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


The Chief's vision of the huge machinelike organization that
runs the hospital and seeks to run the entire world. Nurse
Ratched is a part of it; so are the government agencies that
destroyed the Chief's tribal village. Although a product of the
Chief's illness, the Combine represents actual forces at work in
the modern world: people and groups who value efficiency
over individuality, the mechanical over the natural, and control
over freedom.


The home for patients more troubled than the men in Nurse
Ratched's ward below it, it's run, ironically, by a Japanese-
American nurse much more kindly than Nurse Ratched. The
Chief and McMurphy stay there on their way to electro shock


A treatment in which electricity is sent through the brain in an
effort to calm the patient. Once commonly used, it is now out
of favor-except with Nurse Ratched. Numerous references link
the treatment to Christ's crucifixion.


A Chronic Patient damaged by an overdose of electro-shock
therapy. His spread-armed stance against the wall is one of the
devices linking the therapy to the crucifixion, and so linking
McMurphy to Christ.


An Acute patient who, like Cheswick, often tries to rebel but
always backs down, Fredrickson is so afraid of epileptic
seizures he agrees to take his friend Sefelt's dose of anti-seizure
drug as well as his own, despite the drug's side-effects.


The Chief's Indian grandmother, she gives the book its title
when she chants her rhyme, Tingle Tingle Tangle Toes, during
the recollections brought on by the Chief's electroshock


A daily meeting at which the patients are expected to discuss
their problems with each other and with Nurse Ratched and Dr.
Spivey. Nurse Ratched has twisted this potentially useful
therapy into another means of maintaining her control over the
patients, by leading them to attack one another. McMurphy
describes the meetings as "pecking parties."


Dale Harding's wife, she terrifies her husband with her
voluptuous figure, her sexual demands, and her attacks on his
weakness and effeminacy. In some ways one of the castrating,
domineering women of the book, in other ways not-for far
from repressing her sexuality, she exaggerates it, and after
McMurphy meets her, he suggests that Harding treats her as
badly as she does him. When Harding leaves the hospital, he
returns to her.


This nurse, in charge of the Disturbed Ward, is one of the few
fully sympathetic staff members (and women) in the novel. She
knows that Nurse Ratched's rule is destructive, but is unable to
help the Chief and McMurphy. When Nurse Ratched is
hospitalized after McMurphy's attack, she substitutes on the
ward and makes long-needed changes.

Table of Contents

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

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