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How can One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest be linked to the social rebellions going on...

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aayush311 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 6, 2013 at 7:00 AM via web

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How can One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest be linked to the social rebellions going on around the world of the 1950's and 1960's?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 6, 2013 at 10:39 AM (Answer #1)

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I think that one distinct way in which the work can be linked to the social context that envelops it lies in its overarching need to question authority.  In the end, this becomes the dominant feature of the novel.  Nurse Ratched's dominant sense of control and ensuring that conformity is present can be seen as the social setting of the 1950s.  The voices of dissent that were first quieted and then began to mobilize in anger and out of the need to change can be seen as the McMurphy threat to the social and political order.  

McMurphy represents the force of change in the society of the 1950s and 1960s.  He is pushing against the Status Quo of Nurse Ratched.  While he is silenced eventually, he has inspired Chief to take matters into his own hands and establish his own freedom.  This is representative of the social rebellions of the time period that sought to question authority and move the Status Quo from silencing voices to accepting such narratives.  The battle between McMuprhy and Nurse Ratched can be seen as the struggle between the voice of dissent and authority, representing the basic interplay of social rebellions of the 1950s and 1960s and their view of authority structures.

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