Josh Feinzimer's Reviews > One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
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Nov 11, 07

Recommended for: people who enjoy a fine American classic
Read in November, 2007

This was an outstanding work of fiction. Kesey inserted himself into American classic literary lore with this work. The character development was superb. The way Kesey captures the essence of a mental ward is unique and special. It was as if I was living on the ward right along with the characters.

The most developed character was Chief Bromdem. His transformation from an individual who was frightened by his surroundings and everything about the ward, to an independent, free spirit who sets out to explore a new existence outside of the the barriers of the ward.

McMurphy obviously helps this transformation occur with his outspoken, buck the system attitude. In my mind, McMurphy is the utlimate martyr. His hope when he entered the ward was not only to get the best of Nurse Ratched but to bring life to the ward's residents and allow them to realize their sanity in the wake of a staff that tried to inhibit their development in every way.

McMurphy succeeds but it ends up costing him his own existence. In the end, the nurse takes away the most powerful aspect of McMurphy's being, his independent and infectious voice. It was McMurpy's voice that rounded up the residents and made them realize that there was in fact something beyond the ward's walls. In doing so, he gave Chief Bromden what he was missing for so long, a part of his existence that he forgot was even there, his ability to communicate with others.

In fact, McMurphy traded his voice, and his life for that matter, with the Chief's. The Chief gained the confidence to explore a life that he had longed for for a very long time, and that is the encouraging and happy aspect of a very dark and sinister American classic.
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