Monday, September 9, 2013

Book Review: One flew over cuckoo's nest by Ken Kesey

Title:One flew over the cuckoo's nest
Author: Ken Kesey
Publisher: Penguin modern classics
Page: 320
Price: Rs 350
Genre:Fiction
Source: Online
Rating: 4 out of 5


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Summary:
Tyrannical Nurse Ratched rules her ward in an Oregon State mental hospital with a strict and unbending routine, unopposed by her patients, who remain cowed by mind-numbing medication and the threat of electric shock therapy. But her regime is disrupted by the arrival of McMurphy – the swaggering, fun-loving trickster with a devilish grin who resolves to oppose her rules on behalf of his fellow inmates. His struggle is seen through the eyes of Chief Bromden, a seemingly mute half-Indian patient who understands McMurphy's heroic attempt to do battle with the powers that keep them imprisoned. Ken Kesey's extraordinary first novel is an exuberant, ribald and devastatingly honest portrayal of the boundaries between sanity and madness.

Review:
Set in a mental asylum , One flew over cuckoo's nest somehow transcends a  message that it is fun to be crazy.. The story moves through the eyes of Chief Bromden a schizophrenic pretending to be deaf and dumb so that he goes unnoticed by others.The somber mood swifts off as Randle McMurphy is admitted as the new inmate Mc Murphy chooses a life in hospital to that of the hard labor at the farm , he has many good and not so good things to his credit, he is a breeze of fun, breaking rules is his favourite pass time, he is also allegedly accused of raping a juvenile..McMurphy befriends other inmates just like that , he even  get intimate with many, he lights up the whole environment by means of gambling and many other activities, in short he becomes a ball of energy ..Though one may not agree with his actions, nonetheless all are entertaining..
Of course things doesn't go on in this jolly spirit especially when the whole hospital is supposedly under the strict regime of Ratched the chief nurse who runs the hospital with iron fist..I happily and instantly disliked her..Many a times Mc Murphy pushes his way playing around with Ratched.. But the problem is Mc Murphy can get into serious trouble as Ratched can get him lobotomized which is her extreme end of action towards patients..The problem is no matter Mc Murphy tries his way, the fact would be that he is a patient and Ratched being the nurse  gives her the upper hand over any situation and force him or any patient  for that matter  to go through any kind of medication in the name of therapy..Ratched does manages to keep McMurphy on check for few days...When Ratched almost thinks that everything is under her control things go hayward ..
Mc Murphy ways are bit off track, for example he carries cards that has sexual positions in place of kings, queen and jacks, he even smuggles  wine and finally get prostitutes into the hospital premises...He helps Billy (another inmate) with prostitutes company...This doesn;t go unnoticed by Ratched but what follows was something none could imagine, Ratched  itimitade Billy and he commits suicide, accuses Mc Murphy for his actions..Then on there is a situation of conflicts between Ratched and Mc Murphy finally one day Mc Murphy is taken to lobotomy ward and gets back to the ward in a vegetative state..Bromden unable to bear to watch him in this state kills him and relives him off the agony..Brombden escapes the hospital hikes a ride and set a new path towards his freedom...
Though McMurphy tries to breathe an air of happiness into the lives of inmates at the hospital , on a closer watch the book is a mix of gender bias and racial discrimination ..This might because of the era the tale was set in..Even when you don't agree with Ratched, there are instance when McMurphy works hard to prove  that Ratched is just a woman..
On a positive note, the novel explores the fine line between insanity and sanity and how people can be easily pushed to a state of so called of insanity by the surrounding and how seclusion can only aggravate the situation than help.
Kessey highlights on the liberation of mind invariably of the situations. Kessey has succeeds  in creating an image of hospital , ward, nurse and inmates just like one is watching a movie... I read somewhere that Kessey underwent an electroshock just to get the feel so that he could write about it better, now call that going extra mile on what you do...

1 comment:

  1. Great commentary VB.

    Of course I have seen the film. I had heard that the book was extraordinary.

    I wonder if anyone pointed out the gender and racial bias at the time of publication. Times have changed, but I think some folks were aware of this at the time.

    ReplyDelete

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