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AS and A Level: Ken Kesey

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  1. In Keseys One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, Randall Patrick McMurphys sacrificial death is necessary in order for the patients of the ward to complete their evolution into autonomous individuals.

    As McMurphy goes on to discover, "there are only a few men on the ward who are committed", and although they could check out, they just don't have "the guts". (167, 168) Seeing the need of the patients, McMurphy begins to lead them out of their shells, whether by defying the big nurse: "running his hand through the glass" to take forbidden cigarettes; or by bringing back masculinity and laughter to the ward: initiating the male bonding fishing trip "where men are men and boats are boats" and wheedling "a skinny laugh out of some Acute who'd been scared to grin since he was twelve".

    • Word count: 938
  2. "It's the truth even if it didn't happen" - Discuss the function and effect of Bromden's dreams and distortions.

    Indeed it represents Ratched's oppression of the patients. However, when McMurphy arrives he lifts the inmates out of the chains of their emotional repression and fear and thus lifts the fog. The subsequent clarity of thought is shown by the Chief in the line "When the fog clears...I'm sitting in the day room." The men prefer to be in the fog as they believe they are safer and less easily targeted by the Nurse. However, their institutionalisation is so great that they fail to realise that the fog is actually preventing their recovery from being completed. In this way, Ratched controls the men, but McMurphy can liberate them.

    • Word count: 963
  3. "The hell with you, buddy" - In what way does this exchange between McMurphy and Harding help you to appreciate the various conflicts and confrontations in the novel?

    It could be used as an example of him acting as a 'Christ-like' figure, showing him as someone trying to teach the patients what is wrong with the so-called therapeutic meetings. His 'peckin' party' analogy could be described as a 'parable'. In other words, his story serves as a way of communicating an important point across. It is as though McMurphy has created his own therapy session by trying to highlight the problems with Miss Ratched and her meetings. Even though his story of the chickens is directed at Harding, McMurphy is also aiming it at the other patients around

    • Word count: 969
  4. Show how the Author of One flew over the cuckoos nest uses more than one story to present the central ideas in the text?

    "I used to be big, but not no more" page 170 This beginning to Chief Bromden's story acts as an introduction to the reader into the circumstances within the ward. We are shown early on that the members of the ward live under the same oppressive conditions that Bromden and his Father lived under and that the patients are reduced to former shadows of themselves. For this reason it is easy to see that Bromden's story provides the clearest links between the ward and society.

    • Word count: 935
  5. 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' - Higher question - Narration

    She is furious at the behaviour of her assistants - dubbed ?the black boys? by Bromden ? and in disciplining them, Bromden describes her as: ?Blowing up bigger and bigger, big as a tractor? The hallucination of seeing Nurse Ratched growing in Bromden?s mind is a key aspect of understanding how he interprets things. Not only can he see Nurse Racthed growing physically, but her increasing size represents her increasing rage and power. The bigger she gets the angrier and more powerful she becomes.

    • Word count: 967

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?

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