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Home » People » Joe Braunwarth » POSC 160 » One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

POSC 160 8/30/06


Society says that you need to be a certain way to fit in
            - need order so don’t have chaos


McMurphy as the liberator, represents liberty

-         tells patients they are not crazy

-         Fishing makes them all feel “humanized”

-         That was the therapy they needed

-         Planted seed that they could do things

-         Tried to show them the light


As opposed to the group discussions - Ratched represents authority/order

-         devolved into fighting and yelling

-         Belittles Billy

-         Keeps them there and keep them in line

-         Keep it running smoothly

-         Language: isn’t that why you have problems, why you are here

-         Treats them like little kids

-         Breaks them down by exploiting their weaknesses

-         Has a difficult job of controlling the patients


Patients are all the people in society

-         Voluntary but McMurphy forced to stay there when he rocks the boat

-         Can get driven crazy by society’s gears

-         Crave the regimentation

-         Give up the opportunity to gain freedom in favor of the order/structure/stability


Mental ward as a microcosm of America in the 1950s

-         shift to Civil Rights era


Individuality v. how you are supposed to be

-         voluntarily committed

-         liked the conformity of the ward

-         make you feel different by being institutionalized

-         We’re also being institutionalized by what society expects



-         symbolic of how things change under McMurphy

-         race issue, no speech/dialogue, isolation, McMurphy gets him to open up, realize the advantages of freedom

-         too “big” don’t fit in/conform, get beaten down


Natural aspect of life – sex, fishing

-         opposed to the unnatural/sterile/institutional look of the ward, like overly rational, bureaucratic aspects of life

-         alcohol/party

-         Girls

-         Natural Scenery/Music at beginning and end

-         Fishing

-         Sports


Last Updated: 11/16/2014
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