The most oft-cited aspect of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is Ken Kesey's inspired choice of a secondary character, Chief Bromden, to be narrator. Since Chief has fooled everyone into believing he is deaf and dumb, it frees him to be a fly-on-the-wall observer, and his first-person, present-tense perspective drives the narrative. The chief narrates in a style that came to be called "steam of consciousness" which characterized many novels of the late 1960s and '70s.
Another outstanding aspect of Kesey's writing in this novel is his masterful blend of narration and dialog. In one passage, Chief relates a disagreement between protagonist McMurphy and other hospital patients:
The guys don’t agree with McMurphy. They say they know what the trouble with things is, then get in an argument about that. They argue till McMurphy interrupts them.
“Hell’s bells, listen at you,” McMurphy says. “All I hear is gripe, gripe, gripe. About the nurse or the staff or the hospital. Scanlon wants to bomb the whole outfit. Sefelt blames the drugs. Frederickson blames his family trouble. Well, you’re all just passing the buck.”
Kesey uses narration like a camera scanning the room, then dialog to focus the camera tight on a certain scene. McMurphy talks in a casual, authentic style, and most impressively, Kesey keeps Chief Bromden from becoming an Indian caricature.