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A Close Reading and Critical Discussion of a Passage Selected From Part I of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kasey

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Introduction

A Close Reading and Critical Discussion of a Passage Selected From Part I of 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' by Ken Kasey [Pages 3-5: They're out there.....on the first morning of the week.] Paying Particular attention to the creation of atmosphere in this extract, consider in what ways its themes and narrative style are characteristic of the novel as a whole. The opening to 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' introduces a wide range of themes and ideas which are later developed by Kasey as the novel progresses. The way in which he portrays his ideas within the extract is unique and powerful as he uses a number of techniques such as figurative language, which allow the reader to produce an extremely vivid image of the atmosphere felt within the asylum. The narrative, provided by Chief Bromden, allows the reader to relate closely to the experience felt by those confined within the ward, and therefore sharpens the emotions and imagery put forth by Kasey. ...read more.

Middle

They deprive him of his humanity and treat him like an animal rather than a human being. Any dignity left within a patient is soon taken away, for example, they hand Bromden a mop and simply 'motion to the spot they aim' for him to clean. There is no compassion, it seems that within the hospital humanity has taken a step back and human rights no longer exist. A hellish image is created as the Chief sees the 'eyes glittering out of the black faces' transfixing him with 'fear'. The reader is overwhelmed by the malicious intent of the 'black boys' as they 'detect' his terror. Kasey uses animalistic imagery to further advance the theme of savagery within the hospital. There seems to be a pack mentality as the aides 'all look up, all three at once' and as they mumble 'heads close together'. The idea is taken further when examining the role of the 'Big Nurse' in the group. ...read more.

Conclusion

This theme revolving around sexual abuse continues, McMurphy is continually challenging the sexual oppression, which comes to a climax at the end of the novel when he exposes the Nurses sexuality to everybody on the ward. Kasey introduces the idea of mechanical dominance within the extract. There are many references to Nurse Ratched and machinery, and many more general references to a mechanical system being in place. When she enters the ward, the lock on the door seems to respond to her touch as it 'cleaves to the key, soft and swift' as if it itself knows the importance of the person about to pass through. Her fingernails are 'like the tip of a soldering iron'. This suggests that she is the link, bonding the machinery with her human 'disguise' to create a system working in seemingly perfect harmony. Her bag is compared to a 'toolbox' full of 'a thousand parts'. The concept that she uses these items on the patients further advances the notion that humanity is taken away stage by stage and replaced by machinery that the nurse can control. ...read more.

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