One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Ken Kesey and the Eisenhower Administration

The late 1950s and '60s saw a merging of government and corporation. For the most part, this took place during the Eisenhower administration. This new political climate seemed to be too powerful to many in the beatnik generation. One of these is Ken Kesey, whose views on the "new government" are reflected in his novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Dubbed the "Combine," this idea acts as a ruling power in an insane asylum. The hero's (or anti-hero's) struggles against the Combine parallel the struggles of Kesey and his peers against the policies of the Eisenhower administration.

One of the Eisenhower administration's most powerful platforms was the fight against communism, which is reflected in the Combine. The foremost concern of the administration was to contain communism. This is clearly reflected in the setting: a mental institution. Just as the United States (and other countries) labored to keep communism restricted to the Soviet Union and surrounding countries, as a society we try to keep the ill separated from the healthy, equipping our institutions with window screens such as that "a technician picked up a chair...and beat the screen till the chair was no more than...

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