The harsh reality of the truth can sometimes be a rude realization. This theory is exemplified in Ken Kesey’s best selling novel, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Published in 1962, the novel presents controversial subject matter and themes such as sexuality, violence, and criminal activity as the reader explores the sterile, yet quite dirty, environment of a mental institution and all of its inhabitants. Due to speculation and harsh criticism of concerned and outraged parents, there have been various occurrences of the banning of Cuckoo’s Nest due to the “pornographic” scenes, profane language, and the “glorification” of crimes and violence.
The light cast upon the “displeasing” diction, as well as the mature events that one may view as inappropriate and offensive, is substantially overshadowed by Kesey’s literary merit and valuable insight into the harsh and uncensored tendencies of the real world. The explicit content of Cuckoo’s Nest provides the reader with a valuable and important learning experience into the uncensored world of literature and reality, which students should not be deprived of, rather prepared for, despite whether or not an individual is offended, as well as offering truth and insight.
An important and valuable lesson offered in the text and underlying themes in Cuckoo’s Nest is the concept of, despite controlling and oppressive circumstances, to maintain one’s self and true identity. Upon the banning of this novel, students are deprived of this lesson that is the ultimate result of the underhanded method of control demonstrated by Nurse Ratched. “That ain’t me, that ain’t my face. It wasn’t even me when I was trying to be that face. I wasn’t even really me then; I was just being the way I looked, the way people wanted. The unlikely hero of criminal Randall McMurphy constitutes the theme of good versus evil, as his boisterous and excessively confident attitude not only challenges the authority of Nurse Ratched, but also restores hope, happiness, and humor back into the lives of his fellow patients. “The ritual of our existence is based on the strong getting stronger by devouring the weak. We must face up to this. ” The opinion of supporting the concept of anarchy proved to be an issue among parents, as well, and due to the time period of publication, the fear of communism was evident, which only increased the criticism of Cuckoo’s Nest.
However, when evaluating closer, Kesey’s novel is a pure exemplification of challenging authority and providing an allusion to the oppression that government subjects its citizens to. “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. ” Therefore, the banning of this book based upon this reasoning is illogical simply because the act of banning it only proves the authors extended metaphor of government true and provides even more validity to his argument, not to mention more popularity and publicity for his book.
The language, diction, and graphic content do not hinder the literary genius that is Cuckoo’s Nest, but in fact accomplish quite the opposite. The issues of sexuality, suicide, crime, profanity and violence are not fictional or imaginary problems that only appear in this novel, but are real, existing issues that students are going to have to come to terms with and be exposed to at some point in their lives, probably sooner than later. “I don’t think you fully understand the public, my friend; in this country, when something is out of order, then the quickest way to get it fixed is the best way. The banning of this novel based upon its “explicit” content is only depriving young adults of moral rich ideas and life-long lessons that will surely be missed out on upon being banned. This action is also an insult to the maturity level of both high school and college students. The banning and challenging of this novel is the selfish attempt and shielding young adults from the truth.
“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. Not only does this obstruct the basic freedom of expression and right to read what you wish, but demonstrates the oppression of authority like that of the novel. Students should be appropriately exposed to certain issues such as those described in Cuckoo’s Nest in an educational and enlightening environment, rather than be “protected” from the harsh issues that do exist in the real world. To deprive young adults of this is to rob them of preparation they will need to assess and apply information in a mature way, and revoke the enlightenment sought through experience.