I’ll be honest, I was very excited, but also very unsure what this book was going to be like when I started reading it. The only knowledge I had of this book before I started reading it was that it was about some people in a mental institution.
When I had first started reading it I taken in right away by the main character’s (a 6 foot half indian man named Chief Bromden) vivid hallucinations. If I had to guess the character suffers from severe schizophrenia, as he believes there is a shadowy government organization called “The Combine” that he believes is attempting to turn the whole world into a place just like his ward at the mental institution. The head nurse Miss Ratched. Or “The Big Nurse” as the main character refers to her as runs the ward.
Among these general theories he also hallucinates that the pills they give him contain little pieces of machinery that dissolve when they come in contact with air. He knows this because he broke one open and saw the components before they disappeared. Whenever there is conflict or when the patients defy nurse Ratched he also sees thick fog that fills the ward preventing him from seeing and interacting with the other patients.
Chief Bromden also gets to hear and see a lot more interactions and conversations between the staff members as he pretends to be deaf and dumb(mute) even though he is well educated. Since he sweeps the hallways daily in the institute he is privy to some interesting conversations that really give the reader a better idea of what life is like during that time, and how institute is run.
The real change comes when a new patient, a man named Randel McMurphy is committed to the ward. He is a tall skinny irishmen who flagrantly defies the rules and nurse Ratched and fires up the other patients against the rules that they have been forced to follow for many years.
Overall I highly recommend that everyone read this book as it is really quite a page turner. The interactions between the patients and the support staff and Randle’s behavior make for a very entertaining read. The very gritty life on the ward is makes the book feel as though these were real events written by someone as an autobiography. You start out not knowing much at all about Chief Bromden but as the story goes on you do learn more about his past and it really reveals the depth of his character. The author’s very descriptive writing, and how deeply he immerses the reader into the main character’s mind make this book an instant favorite for me as well.