One Who Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

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Chief is the narrator because if McMurphy were the narrator, he could not quite be telling the story as a fable. He would be empowered to control the path of the narrative--if he were still sane. But Chief, who has not been lobotomized but freed, recounts McMurphy's story and takes the lesson to the outside world. He becomes the messenger.

Chief Bromden believes in the "fog" and the power of the "Combine." The fog is, on an individual level, a kind of mental dimness or confusion that also represents the thickness of delusion and suffering that prevents the inmates from seeing their true situation and their true selves. The Combine is, on a social level, a repressive institution and all the individual wheels and cogs in it that ensures that the inmates stay quiescent.

When McMurphy supposedly oversleeps and is discovered, we must question the depth of his motivation to escape. McMurphy has found deep fulfillment in helping the men in the ward, especially Bromden, despite his increasing personal frustration. But he also has been letting his frustration distance himself somewhat from his initial efforts at leadership. McMurphy may well be the kind of person who is immoderate in his desires and who might end up oversleeping even while he might have preferred to escape.

McMurphy has figuratively disrobed Nurse Ratched, disempowering her and because she has been exposed as human. Her power over the men is further broken, despite her clear victory over McMurphy as an individual. "Thoughts are free," but if part of one's brain has been removed, one does not even have much in the way of thoughts. Ratched has been stripped of much of her authority, her credibility in the overall institution has been further eroded, and Bromden finally gains the independence to escape.

Nurse Ratched is nominally the villain, but she symbolizes a somewhat broken institutional system and the problems of a larger, repressive society that subjugates individualism to conformity. She is part of the Combine, and another upon her demise will likely take her place in the machine. Still, she is particularly cruel at a level beyond that of the other doctors and nurses.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey, each character is a representation of something else. Randle McMurphy represents an outside world/nature and Nurse Ratched represents the inside world and is a manipulator. However, Chief Bromden is different. He is depicted as an adherent, the balance between the outside and inside world, and a follower of McMurphy.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how one can use speech and silence to their advantage in a power struggle. mcmurphy uses his power of speech to rally his fellow patients against nurse ratched who is constantly revoking their privileges.
  • Analyzes how nurse ratched uses her dominant speaking skills to convince the patients that mcmurphy is harming them more than helping them. chief bromden uses silence to his advantage.
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