Reading for Me

The Books I Have Read…..Just for Me

#10: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Ken Kesey)

on May 26, 2015

My feelings about One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest changed throughout my time reading the May selection for my reading project with Jacqs. From the beginning, I found myself confused by the voice of the narrator and unable to identify with the characters Kesey had created. Once I neared the end of part one, however, things changed. I suddenly realized that this novel was not simply about patients in a mental hospital. Instead, Kesey explored those individuals who exercise domination and manipulation in order to gain control over others. The patients became all of us who have been subjected to emotional and psychological abuse at the hands of those in authority — in the work place, in the classroom, in the church. In this light, themes of man’s need to gain personal freedom from oppression and the power of laughter and self-confidence rose to the front of my reading. Suddenly, I found myself standing shoulder to shoulder with Big Chief and McMurphy as they struggled against the vile Nurse Ratched. I quickly identified some Nurse Ratched’s in my own life and I understood that freedom comes in many forms — sometimes tragic — but always resulting in the desired freedom.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a story that speaks to the value of humanity and the plight of the mentally ill and oppressed in our society. Was it my favorite book ever? Not by any means. However, it spoke to me and I will forever be grateful for my time spent in the Ward with these gentle, charming patients.


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