The Stereotypes of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

Essay by The_Wild_RoverHigh School, 11th gradeA+, May 2005

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The Stereotypes of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is not only filled with symbols and references, but with standardized mental pictures that are held in common by members of a group and that represent an oversimplified opinion, stereotypes . Some characters aren't even stereotypes, but they still get subjected to the racism and uncritical judgment that will forever remain pinned to their skin colour. Through his creative use of such characters and their interactions, Ken Kesey shows the reader the benefit of being aware of these things and how the stereotypical groups will remain in human culture.

The black boys. They look, speak and act like the generic sixties black man and are the most stereotypical characters in the book. They play their part and are treated as one would expect, stereotypes are simple. The black boys always do the same job every day, and every day they're subject to the same racist comments, Sam, Coon, it's always something.

The only one who seems to really break the boundaries of stereotyping them would be the Big Nurse herself. She's the only main character who never uses any slang or slurs, instead referring to the individual black boys by their actual names. No specific page is has a better example of the generically done speech of the black boys, one chapter with even a few words from any of the black boys would be sufficient. Ken Kesey didn't just make the black boys so stereotypical for nothing, there's a meaning in all of it.

The Chief may not be a complete stereotype, but he gets treated as one every day. He is of half-aboriginal descent and even the name, "Big Chief Bromden", is a very palpable label. The feel of racist aboriginal stereotypes...