One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

Decent Essays

Many times throughout one of Ken Kesey’s most famous novels, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the book uses animals as symbols to represent the story’s plot. The animals usually relate to individual characters and their current struggles within the story. Animal imagery provides us with great insight to the themes that Kesey is trying to have us explore, and is a very good tool that the reader can use to help better understand and relate to the characters. Ken Kesey uses many different animals throughout his book, such as Cuckoos (a family of birds), chickens, whales, geese, and even a dog. They all mean different things but still symbolize the interpersonal and personal problems related with the characters and novel. The use of animals, as opposed to objects or colors for instance, this is a strong idea because of the vast variety of similarities between the patients and animals. This allowed Kesey to depict a wider range of problems and themes for the characters, while still being able to get the point across to the reader. Probably one of the most important uses of animal imagery in the book comes early on, when McMurphy describes the group sessions as a “pecking party”. McMurphy explains a pecking party to Acutes as:
The flock gets sight of a spot of blood on some chicken and they all go to peckin’ at it, see, till they rip the chicken to shreds, blood and bones and feathers. But usually a couple of the flock gets spotted in the fracas, then it’s their turn. And a

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