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What's important to remember from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey?Like:...

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irislirisl | Student, Grade 11 | Honors

Posted February 15, 2013 at 4:45 PM via web

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What's important to remember from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey?

Like: important character traits, deeper meaning of the ending of the book, etc.

I am sorry for the poor English; I am a Dutch student.

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted February 15, 2013 at 7:36 PM (Answer #1)

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This book, disguised as a funny hero-novel, in which a low person defeats the “System” is in fact a deeper study of “agency”—the rhetorical authority one gets from one’s social standing.  Here Kesey is examining (and criticizing) modes of power:  the bureaucratic power of a government agency, the power of the medical profession to make decisions about individual behavior, the power of society to impose “normalcy” on everyone, all opposed to the power of invention, innovation, free thinking, outlier behavior, individuality, and, in the end, the physical power of an individual (the Indian) to break out of the layers of imprisonment our existence is confined by.  The “hero,” McMurphy, whose weapon against the “giants” of bureaucracy is his insistence on maintaining his uniqueness against such forces as electrical interference with individuality, “laws” designed to thwart deviation from commonness, etc., represented by Nurse Ratchett (her very name suggests a one-way show of force), succeeds in the end because his gets the Indian (symbolically silent, presumably from his treatments and medication) to use his “agency,” brute strength. 

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