English 11

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Seminar
English 11

Our study of this novel is going to be left mostly up to you. You are reaching an age where you have been given the structure and the skill to analyze a text independently. Therefore, this unit will consist of two major independent components--a reading log and a seminar discussion--that will accompany each of the four sections of the novel.

For each seminar, you will have to be prepared to do the following:

  1. Read the assigned section of the novel for the week and write a response for that section’s questions—these questions are listed below. For each question, make sure you support your answers with details from the text (that means sandwiched quotations!) and sufficient explanation. Your response to each question should be at least a paragraph—be specific, but concise. These will be collected at the beginning of the hour on seminar days, but will be used as the basis for your preparation the preceding day; this means they need to be completed the day before the seminar discussion.
  2. Prepare an argument in response to the Seminar Topic assigned for the week’s section. This claim will be based upon your analysis of the book and our class discussions. Prepare by thoughtfully considering the prompt questions and thoroughly answering in your reading journals. The seminar itself will be a graded Socratic circle.

As you read, consider the following:
Trace Kesey’s use of symbols and images in Part One. Some symbols to consider: The fog/fog machine, machinery images, natural images, rabbits/wolves, McMurphy’s boxer shorts, time…Now, considering the symbolic representation of these images, what do you think it might suggest about the problems in our world?

Seminar Topic: Identifying Problems
Considering the mental ward as a microcosm of society, what might Part One of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest suggest about problems that exist in America? Create a claim and be prepared to discuss using specific examples from the text.


As you read, consider the following:
Examine the progression of the symbols and images in this part of the text. How are they similar or different? What does this progression suggest about how things are changing in the ward?

Seminar Topic: Analyzing Change
Create an argument about how and/or why the characters are changing in Part 2. You may consider how the problems identified last week are contributing or stunting this change. In your discussion, be sure to consider what sections of American society these characters may represent. Create a claim and be prepared to discuss using specific examples from the text.


As you read, consider the following:
Annotate for symbols and images—are there new ones? Changing ones?
Annotate for characters’ actions, motives and consequences to change the ward.

Seminar Topic: Assessing Responsibility
What does the text seem to be suggesting about a person’s responsibility to solve societal problems once they notice they exist? Is it a responsibility or a choice? Should people be taking more responsibility than they currently do? Consider the action or inaction of characters from the text.


As you read, consider the following:
Note final representations of symbols and images you’ve been tracing throughout. How are they utilized at the end? What is their final state? What do they signify?
Seminar Topic: Creating Solutions
Based on the effectiveness of the characters’ attempts to make their world better, determine what types of solutions are the most effective in dealing with societal problems. Create a claim and be prepared to discuss using specific examples from the text.