GOVT 120 Grossmont College One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest Discussion

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GOVT 120

Grossmont College



One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is an allegory of larger society. This discussion board asks you to relate those concepts raised in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to specific material from chapters one and two of your Novel Approach to Politics and, at least for you “A” students, some “real world” political concepts as well.  

Source material:

  • Chapters One, Two, and Three of Novel Approach to Politics as well as corresponding Power Point presentations,etc.
  • Relevant “real world” political examples.

If you have trouble getting started, here are some questions you may want to consider in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: What are the major political themes addressed in the Cuckoo’s Nest? What role does Nurse Ratched play? McMurphy? The Patients? The administrators and psychiatrists? How does Nurse Ratched maintain order on the ward? Is the purpose of the ward to cure insanity? What does it mean to be insane or to be dangerous? Why the basketball, fishing, drinking, and sexual references?  

If you are having trouble relating these topics to the textbook, you may want to consider topic such as: power v. freedom, idealism v. realism, collective action, Classical Liberalism v. Traditional Conservatism, Security, Anarchy, Hierarchy, Alliances, Groups and Group Identities, etc. 

Tips for Success:

NOTE TO TUTOR: here is a link for reading "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest".

Unformatted Attachment Preview

Introduction to Politics and Political Analysis Braunwarth One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Written by Ken Kesey • • Grew up in Oregon, Most likely to succeed • Won fellowship to creative writing program at Stanford • Became a volunteer to test new drugs at the local VA hospital • Discovered LSD and became interested in alternative methods of perception • Worked in a mental institution and spoke extensively with the patients • • • • • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest OFOCN explored themes of individuality and rebellion against conformity Common themes at a time when U.S. was actively committed to opposing communism and totalitarian regimes But Kesey directed criticism at American institutions themselves Revolutionary approach that would find greater expression during the 1960s Novel was published in 1962 and was an immediate success OFOCN • Started a commune in CA and became an LSD guru • Led the Merry Pranksters on a road trip across the U.S. with numerous subversive adventures • Movie was released in 1975 without Kesey’s permission • Nominated for 9 academy awards and swept the 5 major categories OFOCN This film is an allegory • • Everything in this film is symbolic of some aspect of society • What is the major conflict? • What are the major political symbols? • What does Nurse Ratched represent? • The psychiatrists and administrators? • What about McMurphy? • The Patients? • The Chief? Nurse Ratched • What does she symbolize? • How does she maintain order on the ward? • How does she get people to her desired outcomes? • Does she solely rely on physical force? • Why do the orderlies follow her? • Is she dishonest? • What is your opinion of her? • Does she have to maintain order? • Would you like to go to her job every day? Randall McMurphy • What does he symbolize? • Is he a threat to the order of the ward? • Is he dangerous? • Is he crazy? What is crazy? Who decides? • Does he know what he is up against? • What happens to him in the end? Freedom/Liberty • Why the basketball game/fishing trip/betting/drinking/sex? • Why too much f***ing and fighting? • Why is it important that McMurphy “tries”? • Does McMurphy want to tear down a system or build a better one for the patients? The Chief • What does he symbolize? • Why the big man/small man language? • What happened to his father? • What is Kesey trying to say about the modern society? The Patients • What do they symbolize? • Do you feel sorry for them? • Do they take responsibility for themselves? • Do they have power? • Why don’t they leave? • What empowers them and what emasculates them? • Have they really changed at the end? Power/Order/Security/Conformity • Where do the nurse and McMurphy get their power? • Do people crave order and conformity and security? • Can order lead to oppression? • What about critical thought? • What does this say about democracy? • If we are to avoid oppression, we must remain active and vigilant
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Explanation & Answer

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Outline for political concepts


Politics is the act of exerting power control over a group of people by devising rules and
regulations that must be adhered to. Collective action must be made familiar to individuals to
avoid dehumanization. A good hierarchy understands its people and appropriately enforces

First paragraph description

All individuals in a country wish for a democratic society. . A country living in peace
because of good leadership and place policies made by the government favors the majority.

Second paragraph description

Nurse Ratched represents the theme of dehumanization in our modern society. Her job is
to maintain law and order in the asylum, but she centrals the patients wrongly. In the book, we
can perceive the thesis of hierarchy; a group of individuals come up with activities that should be
adhered to, to accomplish what they want, similar to Nurse Ratched.

Third paragraph description

Randall McMurphy represents the spirit of freedom. He understands the patients and
takes good care of them. This can be related to classic Liberalism in the novel. The political
culture foregrounds that the government should understand the people and try to make agreeable

Fourth paragraph description

McMurphy also exercises the spirit of self-determination in the asylum. He tries to help
the patients attain independence and understands their weakness. This can...

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