The Importance Of Sexuality In Ken Kesey´S Novel One Flew Over The Cuckoo´S Nest

1459 words - 6 pages

The importance of sexuality is one of the most odd and misconceived elements of Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Instead of a war between races and genders, this novel is about the complication of living in a prevailing democracy where one party has ultimate control over the other. The novel includes a democracy where one must be willing to live as a slave or a defender, one must be willing to have it all or have absolutely nothing, and every patient has very little control over that choice. In an Oregon psychiatric hospital; the male patients are divided into the Acutes, who can be cured, and Chronics, who cannot be cured at all. The mental patients are dominated by Nurse Ratched, a prior army nurse who controls the ward with jagged and sterile precision. During daily group meetings, she instigates the patients to attack one another in their most shameful areas, humiliating them into submission. Chief Bromden, the half Indian narrator of the novel, shows us through his delirium that the hospital is not what it appears to be. Beneath the walls of the ward lies a deep rooted sexual repression and the patients are manipulated into believing that the daily torture they experience is for their well being. Although the institution implies that having a healthy expression of sexuality is the key to sanity, in reality, the ward does the exact opposite.
The suppression of life and sexuality inside of the institution are displayed through the Big Nurse. The emphasis on how Nurse Ratched tries to hide her large breasts shows that she feels vulnerable being a female but it also relates to the restraint of sexuality that she puts on the patients. Every little thing about her and the ward is mechanical, bitter, and empty. From Nurse Ratched’s physical presence to the white conventional attire of the employees, the patients are living in fear. McMurphy’s first impression of Nurse Ratched is very unpleasant because he notices that instead of helping the patients during meetings, she is hindering them. In a mild argument with Harding, McMurphy finally puts a name to the nurse’s tactics by saying, “No, that nurse ain’t some kinda monster chicken, buddy, what she is is a ball-cutter” (54). In other words, the ward appears to be an accommodating warm society but instead, it is depriving men. This style of the institution is distinctly conveyed through Rawler’s death. He commits suicide by literally cutting off his testicles and bleeding to death. This shows that the restraints that Nurse Ratched and her staff put on the patients can ultimately lead to death. McMurphy figuratively claims that the nurse is a ‘ball cutter’ and through Rawler’s death an underlying literal aspect is brought to attention.
Nurse Ratched claims to promote sanity through the wards therapeutic philosophy but the inhumane ways that the patients are treated proves otherwise. When Harding is describing the electro shock therapy to McMurphy, Harding says, “Our dear head...

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