Study Guide

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Rebellion

By Ken Kesey

Rebellion

(Click the themes infographic to download.)

McMurphy’s rebellion against the paltry rules that govern the ward throws everybody into an uproar. Patients respond with warmth as they suddenly realize they’ve been dead all these years, lulled into a false sense of security by allowing others to control their every waking moment—and, well, their sleeping moments, too. Rebellion turns out not to be a lighthearted game, but a serious struggle in a life-or-death situation.

Questions About Rebellion

  1. Which patient is the most rebellious?
  2. What is the definition of rebellion, according to Nurse Ratched? Do you agree with her definition of rebellion or do you think another definition would work better? What definition would you suggest and why?
  3. How does Nurse Ratched respond to rebellion? How do other nurses and Dr. Spivey respond to rebellion?
  4. Why is rebellion such a threat to Nurse Ratched?

Chew on This

Although Nurse Ratched argues that McMurphy’s "rebellion" is evidence of his insanity, rebellion against petty rules and regulations is actually a healthy response to tyranny.

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