Democracy, communism, rebellion, conformity, “bull goose loonies,” and deep sea fishing–this novel has it all.
Oregonian author Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a seminal work of the 1960s that broke all the rules, blurring the lines between fiction and truth, prose and poetry, sanity and insanity. The novel takes place in a mental institution in the midcentury and explores a wide cast of characters, including the rough-and-tumble Randle P. McMurphy, one of the most quintessential working-class characters in American literature. In this Honors English unit, we’ll explore America’s history of conformity and rebellion, examining the novel’s cast of colorful characters and the institutions that shape how we think. Get ready for a wild ride.
Historical Context Links
- Oregon Experience: Ken Kesey (documentary)
- Cuckoo’s Nest Historical Context slides (presentation by Ms. Livesay)
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Youtube audiobook (full novel, free)
- Note: If you’re struggling with the text, this is sometimes a helpful tool. However, to retain and comprehend content, it’s best to read and listen at the same time. Do not rely on the audiobook alone.
Major Assignments, Materials and Models
Coming soon! Stay tuned.
- We have the unique and wonderful opportunity to tour the Oregon State Museum of Mental Health at the original OSH grounds in Salem, Oregon. A diverse staff of experts, therapists, and patient representatives provide a well-rounded vision of the hospital’s history and present. The private tour is outstanding and humanizes the experience of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.