One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s NestKesey’s purpose/ MessageKen Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is a multidimensional novel withmany important messages in which Kesey strives to relay to the readers.
Kesey did notwrite this novel for the sole purpose of entertainment, even though it was veryentertaining, but did write it with the intent to show the readers many realities of life. Firstof all Kesey shows in this book that how people are perceived in society may not really behow that person is and that things are sometimes different than what they seem. SecondlyKesey sends the message that a single person can be significant and make a difference inother peoples lives, and finally Kesey shows readers that the spirit a person has can live onand make a difference even when that person is gone. One message relayed by Kesey is the fact that in society people who may bethought of as good people who are trying to help (nurse Ratched), and people who areconsidered bad people by society (McMurphy, Acutes), may in reality be the opposite ofwhat they seem. Just because society puts a label on people doesn’t necessarily mean it’strue.
In this novel Kesey shows the true evil of nurse Ratched. He shows in detail theway she mechanically tares the men’s courage, pride and eventually all of their manhooddown to nothing. She even goes so far as to driving two men to suicide. Outside of theward the Big Nurse is perceived as a good person and as someone who has dedicatedher life to helping others. This view of nurse Ratched is reflected in the awards won bythe ward that she has total control over and also by the Public relations man who guides agroup of people through the ward telling them how nice of a place this is and how farthese institutes have come.
Readers of this book are show that in reality the Big Nurse isnot the caring women that she is thought to be but that she is the opposite of that. Theopposite of this is shown in McMurphy. McMurphy is thought to be a bad personbecause he gambles, smokes, drinks, has sex, and was put in jail for violence. The readersof this novel realize that McMurphy is really trying to help the other men and is willing tosacrifice pain, suffering and eventually a lobotomy and death for the benefit of the rest ofthe men. McMurphy is not the bad person that the outside world sees.
Secondly Kesey intends to show the reader that a single person is significant andcan make a difference. A single person can inspire and motivate (McMurphy) and alsooppress and control people(Nurse Ratched). When McMurphy came onto the ward all ofthe Acutes worked against each other, never stood up for themselves and were terriblyfrightened of the Big Nurse. Nurse Ratched was strong enough to tare down themanhood of all of the men, put fear in them, and to totally control their lives.
McMurphy,eventually with his own strength, single handily made the men realize that they aren’t tooweak to take control over their lives and to stand up to Nurse Ratched. McMurphyinspired the men to the point were they took control back in their lives and eventuallyworked together, left the ward and or stood up to the no longer so powerful NurseRatched. McMurphy showed that it was not impossible to beat the seemingly invincibleBig Nurse. McMurphy helped change the lives of most of the men on the ward when itseemed they were in a situation were change was not possible.Kesey finally shows readers that even after a person is gone the strength and spiritof that person can live on and make a profound difference. McMurphy had so muchstrength and spirit and was so big in the eyes of the Acutes that even after he was dead hisspirit stayed with the men.
Nurse Ratched thought that by giving McMurphy a lobotomyand by taking away a man who was like a god to the Acutes she would regain all of hercontrol and put fear back into the men. What she did not realize was all of McMurphy’sstrength, courage and spirit would stay with the men. McMurphy , even after he wasgone, still gave the men the strength to stand up for themselves and not let the Big Nurseregain her control of the ward.Although Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest was very entertaining healso had many point to get across to the reader. Ken Kesey drove home many truths oflife, such as, a single person can make a difference in other peoples lives, things aren’talways what they seem, and finally that a person’s spirit can live on and stay with peoplecausing them to change in seemingly impossible situations. This book was written to bevery insightful and also extremely entertaining.