One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest-Practice Exam Answer
“The setting that is most accessible and relevant to the reader is one that is grounded in realism”
To what extent do you agree with this statement?
Life in America was very different to today in the late 1950s. The social norm was to conform and behave, a mentality woven into the fabric of society by former generations and oppressive governments. Ken Kesey’s novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, creates a microcosm of this society which is used to replicate the injustices of the outside world and display them for all readers to see. Kesey depicts the ward setting as a controlling, emotionless environment. This is a very real, believable setting as scarily similar values, rules and ideals were prominent during the 1950s and early 1960s. In this the ward setting is absolutely relevant and accessible to the reader.
To fully understand the connections Kesey draws between the real physical world of 19050s and 60s America and the ward we must first understand the idea of the Combine. In the novel the protagonist, Chief ‘Broom’ Bromden often refers to the Combine and its oppressive, controlling methods and nature. The Combine is described by Bromden as a faceless entity that aims to control everyone-their actions, their thoughts and their independence. This links directly to the social context of the 1950s and early 1960s as it was a time where everyone followed the rules without question, the majority ridiculing the minority who chose not to. Bromden goes on to describe the ward as a “factory for the Combine”, “for fixing up all the mistakes made in the neighbourhoods and schools and churches...” this representation of the ward is one very much grounded in realism as the society of mid 20th century U.S.A forced its ideals and beliefs upon everyone through the use of propaganda and military legislation. Kesey utilises the ward setting to challenge these ideas and question authority, much like the youth of the...