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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey - Barron's Booknotes
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Kesey's decision to tell the story of the Cuckoo's Nest from
Chief Bromden's point of view, and his mastery of that point of
view, are often credited for much of the book's success as a
literary work. The Chief's seemingly random and irrational
hallucinations, confusing at first, gain clarity when we see that
in fact they are carefully organized to give us an understanding
of the hospital we would never receive from a more traditional
narrator. If we compare the characters' surface appearances to
the deeper portrayals of them the Chief gives us, we can see his
value. Nurse Ratched may appear a smiling, middle-aged
woman to the Public Relations man and his tours; the Chief
makes us understand immediately that she has something of the
monster about her. If we passed McMurphy on the street, we
might think he was nothing more than the scarred veteran of
too many bar brawls; but through the Chief's eyes, and so
through ours, he is a saviour. Even the Chief himself gains
stature because we see him in such close detail. To the aides
and other patients he is a towering but deaf and dumb and
terrified Indian, irreparably damaged; we know that he is a
sensitive, intelligent, noble man, a man well worth all of
McMurphy's efforts to save him.

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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey - Barron's Booknotes

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