Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was published on this day in 1962! Published amidst the movement of deinstitutionalization and psychiatric care reform, the novel tackles themes of power, rebellion, sanity, and societal control. Set within a mental institution, the book also criticizes psychiatric care and institutional processes.
To celebrate the publication anniversary of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, we’re sharing some of our favorite quotes from the book that highlight its themes of power, society, and sanity.
All I know is this: nobody’s very big in the first place, and it looks to me like everybody spends their whole life tearing everybody else down.Randle McMurphy
If you don’t watch it people will force you one way or the other, into doing what they think you should do, or into just being mule-stubborn and doing the opposite out of spite.Ken Kesey
I’ve been silent so long now it’s gonna roar out of me like floodwaters and you think the guy telling this is ranting and raving my God; you think this is too horrible to have really happened, this is too awful to be the truth! But, please. It’s still hard for me to have a clear mind thinking on it. But it’s the truth even if it didn’t happen.Chief Bromden
What do you think you are, for Chrissake, crazy or somethin’? Well you’re not! You’re not! You’re no crazier than the average a**hole out walkin’ around on the streets and that’s it.Randle McMurphy
…he knows you have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from driving you plumb crazy.Ken Kesey