the File

Name: __________________________
English 11
Date: ___________________
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Essay
Directions: Choose ONE of the following essays tied to Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the
Cuckoo's Nest. Use evidence from the book in your answers, and completely answer
the essay question by analyzing the book (we do this, once again, by using literary
devices [symbolism, conflict, characterization, point of view, setting, simile, metaphor,
[Grading based on addressing task; use of evidence; structure; literary analysis;
Choice 1:
Early in the book, Chief says of his bizarre story, "But it's the truth even if it didn't
happen." Explain this quote, especially how his first-person narrative contains elements
of truth about the real (or as he calls it, "outside") world.
Choice 2:
Chief finds escape and refuge in "the fog." Explain the significance of this symbol, what
he believes the fog to be, and what he gains by hiding in it. How does McMurphy pull
him and others out of it? How does this relate to the "outside world?"
Choice 3:
Other patients believe Chief is deaf and dumb. In an essay, explain why he first began
acting "deaf and dumb," what the Chief gains through this act, and why he eventually
gives it up.
Choice 4:
From the book's opening scenes until the end, laughter has a power that gradually builds
in the ward. What is the power of laughter that McMurphy demonstrates? In your
answer, name at least two other characters who have benefited from its power.
Choice 5:
McMurphy returns to the ward after a lobotomy ordered by the Big Nurse. Why must the
Chief kill McMurphy before he escapes the ward?
Choice 6:
The Chief is obsessed by his belief in "The Combine." Explain how "The Combine" has
ruined America in his eyes, and its symbolic importance in the book.
Choice 7:
Electroshock Therapy (EST) and lobotomy are two extreme solutions to deal with a
patient who has failed to be "processed," or treated, in Cuckoo's Nest. Explain their use
in the book and how these methods are symbolic of authority's power.
Choice 8
One of the symbols in the book is of castration, or emasculation. How does this fear tie
into the men's perception of authority?
Choice 9:
Part of our discussion of Kesey's book is the parallel between the mental institution's
rules, the rules of society, and the rules of school. Using lyrics from The School of Rock
and passages from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, explain how the book's criticism of
society can also be perceived as a criticism of school.
"School of Rock" – Jack Black
Baby we was making straight A's,
But we was stuck in the dumb daze,
Don't take much to memorize your lies,
I feel like I've been hypnotized,
and then that magic man he come to town,
he done spun my head around,
said recess is in session,
Two and two make five,
and now baby,
I'm alive,
oh yeah,
I'm alive.
And if you wanna be the teacher's pet,
Well baby you just better forget it,
Rock got no reason,
Rock got no rhyme,
You better get me to school on time.
Oh you know I was on the honor roll,
got good grades,
ain't got no soul,
raise my hand before I can speak my mind,
I've been biting my tongue too many times,
And then that magic man said to obey,
do what magic man do,
not what magic man say,
Now could I please have the attention of the class,
today's assignment,
kick some a--!
and if you wanna be the teacher's pet,
well baby you just better forget it,
rock got no reason,
rock got no rhyme,
you better get me to school on time.