Study Guide

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Language and Communication

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Language and Communication

One of the first things you realize when you see inside the mental hospital of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is that none of the patients can communicate with each other. It's clear that they all have mental issues, but none of them are really able to understand each other's problems or offer support. They're just a bunch of disconnected folks yelling about their pain. In some cases, it seems as though the failure to communicate is one of the things that separates sane from insane people in this movie. Nurse Ratched, for example, communicates herself very clearly, and this actually seems to be her greatest source of power over the patients.

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. Who do you think is the best communicator in this movie? Who's the worst? Why? 
  2. Do you think the patients' problems would be solved if they could communicate better with each other? Why or why not? 
  3. How is Nurse Ratched's power connected to her ability to communicate her thoughts clearly? Where do we see her showing this power?

Chew on This

In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, we find that the ability to communicate clearly often separates the sane from the insane.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest shows us that communication doesn't do any good if people don't know how to listen.

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