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One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

by: Ken Kesey

Important Quotations Explained

1
I been silent so long now it’s gonna roar out of me like floodwaters and you think the guy telling this is ranting and raving my God; 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.

We are given this brainteaser from Chief Bromden in Part I. The reader has already gotten a glimpse of Bromden’s paranoia, from the novel’s opening lines, as well as a sense that he is not seeing things from an everyday perspective. For example, Bromden describes Nurse Ratched transforming into a huge machine, and he has to be sedated when the aides try to shave him and he starts screaming “Air Raid.” Up until this point he has not addressed the reader directly; it is as though we are overhearing his private thoughts. But in this passage he asserts himself as not only the narrator but the author of the story. We learn here that he has an important story to tell, even though it is going to be difficult. The ugly and violent images that he has already shown us, he warns us, are just a taste of what is to come.

The last line of the quote is Bromden’s request that the reader keep an open mind. His hallucinations provide metaphorical insight into the hidden realities of the hospital and should not be overlooked simply because they did not actually happen. Although over the course of the novel Bromden regains his sanity, he still witnesses many of the events while in a semi-catatonic, hallucinatory state; we have to trust in the truth of his sharp perceptions, no matter what form they take.