“One flew over the cuckoo’s nest,” by Ken Kesey is the story of a strong, stubborn Randle McMurphy pitted against Nurse Ratchett; it’s a power struggle between the inmates and the institution. But there’s a twist in the way that the story is told, that really makes it unique. The story is told through the eyes of Chief Bromden, a deaf, mute, Native American inmate.
It was Kesey who said in an interview that, using Chief Bromden as the narrator is what gave the novel it’s spark.
I just read “The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells. It was awesome. A timeless piece of science fiction. H.G. Wells is so classic that he basically coined the idea of the “time machine”. Before him, there was no such thing as a time machine; can you believe that?
But I was struck by how fun, how dynamic, and how powerful is this literary techinique that Wells uses – the same one that Kesey used in “Cuckoo’s Nest.”
Our story revolves around the enigmatic Time Traveller, but we (the reader) are told the story second hand, by an unnamed London gentleman. Our narrator has witnessed certain miraculous events, ones that he can hardly believe himself. He has a story to tell us, as if we were sitting in his living room.
We all know that some narrators are trustworthy, and some are not (“Catcher in the Rye”), but as social animals, we are pre-disposed to “want to trust” one another. We want to believe our friends. Which is why I think this particular technique is so effective in hooking the reader, and giving them an authentic experience.