Key Passage Excerpt “Singing! Everybody’s thunderstruck. They haven’t heard such a thing in years, not on the ward. Most of the Acutes in the dorms are up on their elbows, blinking and listening. They look at one another and raise their eyebrows. How come the black boys haven’t hushed him up out there? They never let anyone raise that much racket before, did they? How come they treat this new guy different? He’s a man made out of skin and bone that’s due to get weak and pale and die, just like the rest of us…”-Sage Stubbs pg. 91-92
“We mustn’t let McMurphy get our hopes up any different. Lure us into making some kind of dumb play. She’ll go on winning, just like the Combine, because she has all of the power of the Combine behind her. She doesn’t lose on her losses, but she wins on ours. To beat her you don’t have to whip her two out of three or three out of five, but every time you meet. As soon as you let down your guard once, she’s won for good. And eventually, we all got to lose. Nobody can help that.”-Sage Stubbs pg. 113
Analysis of the Excerpt
“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is a story by Ken Kesey and was a part of Beats literary movement. This was a protest novel in form of a poem that wanted to rejected normal societal norms that had been set in place and also protest the government lack of concern to the society. The excerpt passages are chosen present and addresses aspects that are important to the development of the novel’s themes. Kesey’s literary crafting of the novel portrays themes from the excerpt that shows Law and order and other aspects show the theme of individual vs sanity, the theme of sanity and insanity and the theme of power.
In the development of the theme of power in the novel storyline, the excerpts passage addresses some aspects of power in which passage portrays how Big nurse Ratched has strict rules that see McMurphy struggles against the strict rules. Big nurse Ratched is described by other patients that she’ll keep winning since she has the power of combine behind her. Nurse Ratched who is the antagonist is the most exposed in the society when it comes to men. She is abusing her powers over the men as she still wants to remain in control. When the author states “She’ll go on winning, just like the Combine, because she has all of the power of the Combine behind her. She doesn’t lose on her losses, but she wins on ours.” (Kesey, pg. 100); she is talking of the battle between McMurphy and the nurse. Although she may have been beaten, she is not going to let it affect her eventual goal being ready to regain control of her power again. In highlighting the battle between the two, the author uses a narrative voice as well as description making the passage even more interesting.
The novel also features the theme of individual v society in which the passage is important to show how this theme develops. McMurphy has been shown challenging the rules at the hospital since he had arrived from the upsetting nature of the group therapy procedure that is supposed to be democratic to brushings of teeth before the appointed time. With the hospital setting being considered as a society and its conformity and description of madness among various strict rules McMurphy’s action against the conformist society is noble. In that, he questions the strict and controlling rule together with the ridiculing of the nurse. The passage helps develop this theme I regard to where the other patients arguing that they must not let McMurphy lure them to a dump play getting their hopes up. The patients are aware that the nurse is carefully watching and she is not defeated as eventually she will take back the control of the hospital.
In the setting of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Kesey makes several statements about nature and society. The first statement from the novel is that as a means of maintaining law and order the conformist society, suppresses personal expressions thus man must struggle for his individuality in the society. With a focus on the passage, this statement is portrayed, when the Acutes are surprised that the new guy has not been hushed by the black boys, thinking the new guy is being treated differently. The new behavior of McMurphy surprised the conformist society as they are not used to seeing such without black boys hushing the patients out of there. Which is shown to be the nature of the society they are confined in. The individual struggle is portrayed by the questioning of the strict rules and ridicule of the big nurse by McMurphy who the other Acutes didn’t want to put hopes on as they were preoccupied with the thought that the big nurse always wins (Meloy, pg. 3-14).
The Microcosm of the novel world is often reflected in the real macrocosm of the real world outside. The microcosm is a small society surrounding that represents a community or a situation that portrays the characteristics of a larger symbol. In the novel, the struggle of one individual against the society that is a conformist is righteous action to take and as the hospital presents the microcosm society, McMurphy’s fight within the small world can be related to the outside world. In the writing of the novel, emphasize was made on a conformity society, whereby the writer Kesey, used the word conformity to mean upholding law and order thus the through the fight of one’s individuality against a small society, the connection with real-life contemporary world was raised as standards, law and order of the current world and society at large are in question.
McMurphy’s struggles in the Acute ward led to the breed of questions on how to the society defines sanity, whereby in the setting all people were asked to conform to the same standards of behavior. The world at large does not welcome the ideas of insane an I insanity thus through the novel, this theme is well presented out as to what the society conforms to as insane or insanity and does it conform with the society’s expectations and norms. these questions often arise in an attempt to separate a sense of self from society. The real world outside through the psychiatrists has been over the past century trying to answer such questions that are presented in the small hospital world, with the hope of guiding people to self-realization no matter how the environment differs from the norms of the patient environment (Pink, pg. 641). The novel shows the Hero McMurphy, as a person who sees through the shuns and shows his fellow acute patients on how they can create their own standards of sanity.
Kelsey is able to successfully employ various literary devices in her novel to build on her various themes in the novel. From the setting to the title of the book, one can already get an idea of the serious issues that Kelsey gets to address.
Kesey, Ken. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962).” (1976).
Meloy, Michael. “Fixing men: castration, impotence, and masculinity in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” The Journal of Men’s Studies 17.1 (2009): 3-14.
Pink, Jim, and Lionel Jacobson. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Bmj 334.7594 (2007): 641-641.