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One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest - Book Review

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Previously stated by Martin Luther King Jr.,"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Truly, a man's character cannot be efficiently tested until he leaves his life of relaxation and steps into confrontation. King Jr.'s statement can be validated by Ken Kesey's novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Kesey uses the character Randall P. McMurphy to show an ultimate example of a confident man who works well under pressure. Additionally, Kesey uses the patient Charles Cheswick to show an example of a man who runs and hides when put under pressure. As a result of Kesey's use off constant conflict, each character's personality is tested and their true characteristics are eventually brought out.

In the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, set in a mental asylum in Oregon during the Autumn season during the 1950's, a man named Randall P. McMurphy arrives with an attitude different from everyone else. When McMurphy first entered the hospital he started to laugh. He walked into the dayroom and tried to talk to everyone, "He stands there waiting, and when nobody makes a move to say anything to him he commences to laugh"(12). Before McMurphy even met anyone the patients could tell that he was a different type of person. Before McMurphy when new admissions arrives they would walk against the wall and not speak. Despite the way McMurphy presented him self in the dayroom while hanging out with the patients, the patients didn't believe that he would act that way in front of Nurse Ratched. McMurphy surprised the patients by acting the same way around Nurse Ratched as he did around them. Despite the fact that McMurphy was rambunctious throughout the ward patients still had their doubts. McMurphy destroyed all of the suspicions when he declined the opportunity to escape the ward after the party despite the ruthless consequences he knew he would receive. When Harding pointed out McMurphy's opportunity to escape McMurphy said, "'You kidding me? I couldn't even get my head through that window let alone my whole body'"(312) The external conflict between Harding, who thought it was best for McMurphy to escape, and McMurphy showed that McMurphy was willing to finish what he started even if it meant sacrificing himself. McMurphy did what no other patient could even fathom, defeat Nurse Ratched. Furthermore, during times of conflict McMurphy revealed that he was truly a selfless, noble man who was willing to receive major consequences to protect and save others.

Although McMurphy was truly a noble man, even when faced with controversy, there was a patient who couldn't quite be like McMurphy no matter how much he wanted to be. Charles Cheswick was a very loud and obnoxious patient on the ward who always complained about the ward policy, but he



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