I have posted about the significance of laughter in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest which is important because the overall mood of the novel is so gloomy. In the repressive hospital there is an undercurrent of fear and constraint constantly present. McMurphy tries to break the gloominess and get the patients to laugh, but the predominant mood is never broken for too long.
Kesey also creates a feeling of great sadness in the novel. He successfully gains the reader’s sympathy for the repressed patients who are treated so poorly and deprived of their human dignity. Kesey is able to create a feeling of heightened sadness by developing the needless string of deaths portrayed in the story, including that of Cheswick, Ruckly, Billy, and McMurphy. The only thing that breaks the sadness is the happiness that the reader is made to feel when Chief Bromden gets well and is able to escape from the hospital.