In my early reading and digestion of the novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey, I have come across many strategies, devices, and descriptions seemingly worthy of the attention of my literary analysis paper. The one topic that particularly struck me was Kesey’s skillful use of setting. The setting of this novel is the mental ward of some sort of institution, and the different rooms and surrounding areas are woven into a beautiful and striking form that amazes me with every page turn. Kesey illustrates, “A patient’ll be in a corner all by himself, when all of a sudden there’s a squeak and frost forms along his cheek, and he turns in that direction and there’s a cold stone mask floating above him against the wall. He just sees the black face. No body. The walls are white as the white suits, polished clean as a refrigerator door, and the black face and hands seem to float against it like a ghost” (Kesey 31). The striking comparison between the black boy’s face, who is a helper to the nurse, and the white walls, creates a vivid image in your head of the cleanly and bare nature of the institution. At many points in the novel, Kesey crafts imagery like this that leaves readers scrounging for more.
One disagreement I have with Kesey’s rhetorical decisions is with the way he describes procedures that the nurse carries out on the patients. Oftentimes, I am left confused with the extraterrestrial fashion in which he describes the occurrences. They seem alien and of a higher dimension than the rest of the book. Patients evolve to have unrealistic actions and crazy dialogue, which confuses me, and contrasts with the rest of the novel. Although with time, my understanding and appreciation of the technique might evolve and improve, currently I don’t love it. While the rest of the book is described in a way that could certainly be understood in the context of our real world, these few situations cannot, and therefore make me disagree with their inclusion in the novel.