Biography of Author

Ken Kesey was born in La Junta, Colorado but his family later moved in Springfield, Oregon, where he attended public schools, and later the University of Oregon at Eugene. He has received the Woodrow Wilson scholarship to Stanford University, a Saxton Fellowship, and won the Fred Lowe Scholarship awarded to the outstanding wrestler in the northwest. Mr. Kesey was king of the Merry Pranksters, a group which traveled the West Coast staging happenings. As a leader of the group, Mr. Kesey appeared as subject and star in the best seller, The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test, by Tom Rolfe.


Literary Components

The story takes place in a mental hospital out in the country, somewhere in the northern Oregon area. The time period is the early nineteen sixties. The story is set in a dreary mental institution where life tends to drag on. The patients tend to live in fear of the big nurse, until Mcmurphy is committed to the ward and he brings much humor and adventure to the hospital.
The plot of the story is trying to get the best of Nurse Ratched by antagonizing her and going against the rules. Using these tactics, they gained will power and right to their freedom. The theme of the story is standing up for what you believe in, no matter what the consequence might be. This theme is demonstrated, when McMurphy is sent for electro-shock therapy on account of being caught with having alcohol and women in the ward and having a party.
Randle McMurphy is the leader of the acutes on the ward. He is described as having muscular stature, and being very strong minded. He is also a loud mouth whose wise cracks fill the story with humor and fun. He is also deemed as somewhat of a nymphomaniac.
The next character is Chief Bromden who's the narrator of the story. The Chief has pretended to be deaf and mute as long as he's been in the ward. Physically he's about seven feet in height. He had not spoken to another person until McMurphy entered the ward.
Harding is an outspoken character in the story, which at often times maybe called a ?worry wart.? He's a skinny man with pretty boy features. He is often the character who tries to contradict McMurphy and talk him out of trouble.
Cheswick was a character who was always outspoken as well. He quickly becomes McMurphy's disciple, who is quick to mimic McMurphy's words.
Billy Bibbit is a young character who seems to be mildly retarded and has a large stuttering problem. His mother works in the ward, which works against him in the long run.
Nurse Ratched is head of the ward and she tries to keep the patients in line. She is said to be a woman in her mid fifties with a large build, and is taunted by the patients.



Summary
The story begins with Randle McMurphy being committed to the ward as a new patient. He quickly realizes the deep darkness of the hospital's aura and the nurse's evil deception. Chief Bromden, the narrator of the story, finds the patients become quickly attracted to him by his loud attitude and wild antics. The Big Nurse realizes his influence on the patients and becomes overwhelmingly concerned in keeping her ward tidy. McMurphy quickly takes his toll on getting under the Nurse's skin by organizing the acutes into voting against her long standing rules, reeking havoc for the nurse's staff. In the end , Bill Bibbit kills himself after becoming devirginized, and the chief kills Mcmurphy because the nurse puts him through so much shock therapy, that he is a vegetable.

Evaluation


One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a story that teaches the reader to handle issues. Ken Kesey blends issues of friendship, overcoming fear, growing up, and standing up for what one believes in. Reading this book would help the reader to cope with everyday stresses of modern society no matter what age you are. I myself learned that when I feel alone and have nothing that, I can always find a friend.
I enjoyed this humorous story because it deals with issues that affiliate with people of all kinds. Once I began to read this book, I could not put it down. I