Traditional stereotypical roles in society have been adopted and transformed from the beginning of civilization to contemporary times. In Ken Kesey's, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, the reversal of those traditional roles such as, men vs. women and black vs. white, are incorporated into his novel to elicit his views of the asylum and its inhabitants as a microcosm of American society during the post-war era. .
Knowledge of Ken Kesey and his use of psychoactive drugs plays an important role in understanding his delivery of thoughts to his audience. Kesey believed that drugs such as LSD and Mescaline (peyote), which he used as part of governmental experiments, opened up the human conscious to such ideas that couldn't be expressed or described in a sober state of being. The majority of Kesey's time was spent under the influence of such drugs while writing his book. Most of his thoughts came from real life experiences during his work on a psychiatric ward in Oregon. Even while he was on drugs, he made his friends give him electro convulsive shock treatments so he could identify with his patient's thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
During the years he wrote his first novel, society appeared to be going through many gradual but significant post-war changes. In today's world, everyone must conform to society's standards, otherwise be faced with strict societal penalties. .
Throughout past centuries society has viewed females to be inferior to their male counter parts. Kesey takes these attitudes towards women seen in society, and reverses them. Assumptions portraying women as being "ball cutters" and "twitches" (58) are first presented as the novel opens. Ronald Walace, a criticizer of Kelsey's book, believes " If men have traditionally oppressed women, now the women oppress the men. In the asylum, the weak, ineffectual men are controlled by, strong domineering women, rendering the sexual roles themselves comic" (Walace 225).