Since the time of its publication, in 1962, Ken Kesey’s One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest has always been the target of numerous analysis and subject of many controversies. As such, it has prompted many scholars to attempt to uncover its meaning. Over the years, many interpretations have been suggested, by different critics and scholars, as to what the real meaning of the book might mean. Some might even question if it has any meaning at all, given much speculation circulated that the book was written under the influence of hallucinogenic substances, which, as it is widely known, Kesey abused during the 1960s.
One of the many standpoints to consider when trying to assess the different aspects of the novel is that, given the alienation and ordeals suffered by the characters, it could very well serve as a starting point for building a solid critique against the set of ideologies or social molds upon which the national identity of the United States of America is built. Because of the rich history of the country, the American national identity has been affected and shaped, probably more than any other nation in the world, by an intricate process of violent convergence of different cultures and peoples. This idea of a culturally heterogeneous diversity has historically been referred to as a “melting pot”.
The concept of a melting pot was, in the past, thought of as a desirable way in which a nation would be a balance between the many different cultures that cohabited within the boundaries of one country. This osmosis-like process occurs by means of assimilation, naturally or forcibly, in which one culture, namely the dominant one (by and large white European) assimilates or absorbs the smaller, less powerful ones. As opposed to what happens in a melting pot, in a Multicultural society, ideally, ethnic and religious diversity is encouraged by promoting cultural decentralization in order to invigorate equality in terms of power, dominance, political influence, and racial privilege (particularly, white privilege).