Ken Kesey 's One Flew Over The Cuckoo 's Nest

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The 1960s was a decade that saw Americans experiment with mind-altering drugs, and test the limits of societal norms and behaviors with respect to what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. As part of Ken Kesey’s participation with drug experimentation, as well as time spent working at a California mental health facility, Ken Kesey formed the basis for his novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, published in 1962. The book was enormously popular, selling nine million copies, especially after the award-winning movie released in 1975. Even in the face of all this success, many school districts have voted to ban this book from their curricula. The reasons for removal have been numerous, but can be summed up by one Ohio school, which said that the book “glorifies criminal activity, has a tendency to corrupt juveniles, and contains descriptions of bestiality, bizarre violence, and torture, dismemberment, death, and human elimination (Baldassarro).” Although the book contains scenes of brutality and abuse to patients, as well as racist, profane, and vulgar language, which could be disturbing to some, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest should be kept in high school curriculum because it questions society’s definition of insanity and shows the importance of expressing one’s sexuality in a healthy and responsible way. The book is set in a mental hospital and is narrated by Chief Bromden, a Native American who has repetitive fits of schizophrenia. The ward is run by the
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