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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey - Barron's Booknotes
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The first example is Billy Bibbit's comment, "If I was d-d-deaf,
I would kill myself." Seemingly casual, Billy's thought of
suicide will be repeated later-and, at the book's climax, acted

More elaborate foreshadowing can be seen in the characters of
Ellis and Ruckley. Ellis is a victim of the already-mentioned
Shock Shop-of electro-shock therapy, a treatment once used on
certain types of mental patients, in which electricity is passed
through the brain. Normally the treatments are short, and their
effect, while disorienting, temporary. But in Ellis' case a
mistake was made and permanent damage was done. Now he
stands spread-armed against the wall, as if his hands had been
nailed to the plaster. (The posture is purposely reminiscent of
the crucified Christ: the connection between the Shock Shop
and the crucifixion-and McMurphy as Christ-will be made
more explicit later in the book.)

Ruckley is a victim of another once common treatment, the
prefrontal lobotomy, in which a portion of the patient's brain is
removed. Ruckley, operated on when the technique was still
new, has been left unable to do anything but stare at a blank
photograph. Now, the Chief says, the operation has been
refined; patients are able to go home and lead normal lives of
a sort. But the Chief wonders if this fate is any better than
Ruckley's. This question, too, will reappear at the book's

Ellis and Ruckley let us know that, while much of what happens
in the hospital is wildly funny, human lives are at stake. At the
end of the third scene, McMurphy has his first encounter with
Nurse Ratched. Everyone must obey, she warns; McMurphy
warns that he will do the opposite. The earlier showdown
between McMurphy and Harding was a joke. This showdown is
real. And while the battles between McMurphy and Nurse
Ratched may seem trivial, fought as they are over toothpaste,
the World Series, and fishing trips, the presence of Ellis and
Ruckley are grim reminders that the war is deadly serious

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

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