One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

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One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest is a 1962 novel by Ken Kesey. It takes place in a mental hospital in the American Northwest. Randle Patrick MacMurphy is a prisoner who has himself transferred to the hospital in order to serve out the rest of his sentence in comfort. He is horrified at how cowed and miserable the other patients are, living in total fear of Nurse Ratched, the head nurse. MacMurphy originally plans to make money by organizing poker games on the ward, but soon realizes how desperately the other men need a hero, someone to stand up for them, since they cannot.

The story is narrarated by Chief Bromden, an American Indian who has been on the ward longer than anyone besides the nurse.

According the Kesey's biography, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Kesey got the idea for Bromden while under the influence of LSD. Kesey also worked in a mental hospital and secretly underwent electric shock treatment in order to better understand his characters.