Chief Bromden's Escape in Ken Kesey's One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest

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Chief Bromden's Escape in Ken Kesey's One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest

How can you be big and small at the same time? In Ken Kesey's novel, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, Chief Bromden is one of the inmates in an insane asylum who escapes the Institution. Many of the other inmates are afraid of the Institution and cannot escape. How does Chief escape? McMurphy helps him break free. He teaches Chief how to be strong and independent again. He listens to Chief and helps him get back his self-confidence. McMurphy influences Chief to do things for himself. Having this help, Chief finds himself and his self-confidence. This leads to Chief escaping the Institution because he can face the world on his own without hiding under a false identity of being deaf.

Chief Bromden is a six foot seven tall Native American (half) who feels very small and weak even though by physical description, he is very big and strong. Chief does not have enough self-confidence and he is not independent. That is what makes him so small and weak. When Randle McMurphy, the new inmate in the asylum comes in, Chief is reminded of what his father used to be: strong, independent, confident and big. "He talks a little the way papa used to, voice loud and full of hell…" (16) McMurphy helps Chief gains back his self-confidence and teaches him to be independent.

In the control panel scene, McMurphy bets with the other men that he can lift the control panel even though it is too heavy for him. He is teaching Chief and the other inmates that even if you think you can't do something, you have to try. If you try and you fail that will be okay, but if you never try, you don't know what you can do. The other men and Chief have never tried to rebel against Nurse Ratched and the institution. They have watched others fail so they are afraid to try; but they are different. If they try, they might be able to defeat Nurse Ratched. They do not know about their own abilities. They lack the self-confidence and courage to do it for themselves. So McMurphy shows them how to try. "But I tried, though,' he says. ‘Goddammit, I sure as hell did that much, now, didn't I?"(111)

During the second World Series vote, McMurphy gets Chief and twenty of the Acutes to raise their hands up.
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