What do the Canadian Honkers represent in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest?

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kmcappello | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

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Ken Kesey's classic novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, is filled with symbols of freedom and imprisonment.  The patients of the psychiatric ward are essentially caged birds, trapped physically by the locked doors and burly guards as well as mentally by drugs, electro-shock treatments, and Nurse Ratched's psychological abuse.

Both the mongrel dog sniffing outside the window and the Canadian "honkers," or geese flying by overhead, represent past moments of freedom for Bromden.  They are reminders that he was once free, and perhaps, that he could be again.

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