One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

by: Ken Kesey

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quote 4

Except the sun, on these three strangers, is all of a sudden way the hell brighter than usual and I can see the . . . seams where they’re put together. And, almost, see the apparatus inside them take the words I just said and try to fit the words in here and there, this place and that, and when they find the words don’t have any place ready-made where they’ll fit, the machinery disposes of the words like they weren’t even spoken.

In this passage from the beginning of Part III, Bromden, who has been gaining self-awareness since McMurphy’s arrival on the ward, remembers a scarring experience he had as a ten-year-old. Three government officials came to speak to his father, Chief Tee Ah Millatoona, about buying the tribe’s land to build a hydroelectric dam. When Bromden tried to speak to them, he noticed that “[n]ot a one of the three acts like they heard a thing [he] said.” He begins to see the world differently, believing that he can see the seams on people, as though they were inhuman or machine-like.

For Kesey, the drones who do the dirty work of an oppressive society are basically machines. The government officials who visited Bromden’s father were planning to make a profit by destroying nature, represented by the tribe’s ancient connection to the land, the river, and the fish, and replacing it with destructive technology. The brightness of the sun sheds light on the dark fact these officials taught Bromden: that people who do not have “any place ready-made where they’ll fit” are ignored and disposed of. At first the “machinery” disposes of Bromden’s words; then, over time, it seems to ignore his entire being.