One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a tragicomic novel written by Ken Kesey and was first published in 1962. It is set in a mental hospital during the late 1950s. McMurphy is described as having a "voice loud and full of hell" as well as a laugh that is "free". The issue of authority and the individual are discussed through many characters. The never-ending fight between the individual craving for more freedom and society which is represented by institutions is also portrayed through many.
Kesey seems to follow a fairly straightforward course in unfolding the plot of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Except for a few flashbacks and digressions, the story is essentially told from beginning to end. The first-person ("I") narrator Chief Bromden, however, is a schizophrenic - a person prone to hallucinations and delusions. As a result, the reader is sometimes unsure whether some of the events he describes really happened or not.
The setting plays a pivotal role in the novel, especially because it rarely changes. By keeping the action in one place - the Chronic/Acute Ward of a mental institution - Kesey is able to create a whole society in miniature. As the novel opens, this society is an ordered holding pen for men who have various degrees of mental illness. When the outsider McMurphy arrives, he brings the monotonous, repetitive qualities of this setting into focus. The portrayals of the inmates of the institution, for the most part, are real and believable. Some are modelled on patients Kesey observed while doing night supervisory duty on a mental ward. For instance, the behaviour of George Sorenson, known as "Rub-a-Dub," who is so concerned about cleanliness he won't touch anyone, is an example of obsessive-compulsive disorder
McMurphy bursts on the well-ordered, claustrophobic scene of...