One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest:The 1960’s was the decade when the “Baby Boomers” became teenagers and young adults who rebelled against the relative conservatism of the 1950’s. Ken Kesey is considered one of the pioneers of the Hippie Movement (he is affectionately known as “The Father of the Counterculture”), and his novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, is known as one of the most pivotal novels that reflected the mindset of the young people of the time. In order to understand the spirit in which Kesey wrote the novel, you should research this time period in order to put the book in context. As a starting point, you should visit Kingwood College Library’s website (), which provides an overview of the major events and views of this explosive decade. Keep these ideas in mind as you read the novel.Ken Kesey was inspired to write One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nestafter working for a brief time as an orderly in a mental institution in California. While Kesey was there, he not only spent a lot of time with the patients (the characters in the book are composite sketches of some of the patients he knew), but he also observed the different types of “treatment” the patients received, including various drugs, electroshock therapy, and lobotomies (you should research these treatments if you are not familiar with them already). This story of the inner workings of a mental hospital in Oregon is told from the perspective of “Chief,” a Native American patient at the hospital. Chief suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, so you have to be patientwith him (and with yourself) as he tells you the story. The style of the novel is unusual, and can be bizarre, challenging, and disturbing at times. Stick with it!Just remember that a lot of what Chief says can be metaphorical. Chief is going to tell you about what happens to this otherwise “normal” (remember that “normal” is relative) mental institution when a convict named Randall McMurphy arrives. Unlike the other docile patients, Randall McMurphy is rebellious and directly challenges the authority of Nurse Ratched (“Big Nurse), the head nurse who demands order and routine at all times. Chief details how McMurphy’s actions impact the other patients and how they view their lives.