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One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

By Ken Kesey

When I read this book in high school, I loved the anti-establishment theme. I think the writing is what I loved this time around. I loved the voice of Chief Bromden and the way Kesey shows us the world of Miss Ratched’s ward through his eyes. Finally I have to love McMurphy…..every reading.

What strikes me as a problem this reading is that all the women in the book are “ball-cutters” or “whores.” Women are the source of all the misery in the book: they emasculate, manipulate and intimidate the male characters. The men who enforce Nurse Ratched’s control are all black and hateful language abounds. The misogyny and racism were less of an issue for me when I was 16, but now I just can’t cheer a skewed story like this without comment.

The book was written in 1962 and is considered a classic. The characters are unforgettable. There is a theme of sacrifice and unity among the patients that is wonderfully touching. I loved the writing and trying to see the world through the eyes of a very damaged narrator. The writing makes the book worth reading despite the drawbacks.

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