Ken Kesey: Sometimes A Great Notion

(2375 words)
  • Jill E. Anderson (Middle Tennessee State University)

In the opening of Ken Kesey’s 1964 novel Sometimes a Great Notion (herein Sometimes), Leland Stamper receives a postcard from his hometown of Wakonda, Oregon, written by his cousin Joe Ben. The postcard arrives in the midst of a botched suicide attempt while Leland is in attendance at Yale. The postscript is written, “showing black and blacker, large and larger than all the rest of the message”, by Leland’s half-brother, Hank (Kesey 69). The postscript reads, “You should be a big enough guy now, bub”, and Leland fixates on the implied challenge to his masculinity (69, 70). After a mention of Hank’s wife, Viv, Leland sees the idea of his brother married as “so ludicrous that I found some actual humor in the i…

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Anderson, Jill E.. "Sometimes A Great Notion". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 16 January 2013
[, accessed 29 September 2016.]