Ken Kesey's first novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, is a parable of the human condition, and more specifically, of contemporary American society. It bends normality to make madness the touchstone of reality. Captain Marvel and Kafka inspire the bizarre hallucinations, placing Kesey somewhere between the Absurd and Black Humor. The theme of the novel focuses on the predicament of modern man, which is the conflict between the individual and the system. The metaphor is a mental hospital, which serves as the microcosm to reflect the ills of the macrocosm, society. The characters are the patients themselves and their staff, and the narrator is a deaf-and-dumb schizophrenic Indian. The conflict is between Big Nurse, who represents the system, and McMurphy, who represents humanity, the individual. The purpose of this study is to define and discuss the elements of Kesey's parable, arriving at some conclusions about his view of the human condition and its modern counterpart, American society. Requisite to the discussion is Kesey's concept of the individual and the system. The formal elements of point of view, genre, structure, and character are analyzed in detail to determine their influence upon and relationship to the parable of the forces of Good versus the forces of Evil. A great deal of use is made of biographical information on the author, because of its relationship to the novel itself. The limited studies available on Kesey have been presented accurately, where pertinent to the discussion. The conclusion that develops is that the novel is a parable of the human condition, and more specifically a commentary on sociopolitical ills in the United States. He is the champion of the individual and the enemy of any system which threatens to usurp the rights of the individual, or to divide him against himself. However, the system cannot operate without the willing participation of the individual; thus, Kesey is also emphasizing the importance of individual responsibility for actions, self-awareness and integration, and an acceptance of all aspects of one's nature. Kesey's polarization of values into the forces of Good versus the forces of Evil, as seen in his use of imagery, point of view, and structure, definitely classifies the novel as a parable of the individual struggle for freedom and self-awareness in opposition to the system.