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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.
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The Chief is also the narrator of the novel. He tells the reader everything that is going on within the walls of the ward. Even though he is the narrator and is telling the stories of the other men in the ward, he is also telling his own story about his journey back towards sanity. The Chief suffers from paranoia and hallucinations and has been in the ward longer than any other patient. Even though he is six feet seven inches, he tries to hide himself. He pretends to be a deaf mute at the ward as a tactic to prevent harassment by the other men and Nurse Ratched.
There is much strength associated with both speech and silence. One can use either to their advantage in a power struggle. In the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Randle Patrick McMurphy and Nurse Ratched employ the power of speech and Chief Bromden uses the power of silence until the end of the novel when he gains the power of speech. These cases prove that the greatest power is not held in speech or silence alone, but in the effective combination of the two. Many people believe verbal communication to be a very powerful way of expressing oneself. Words gain their power when the volume is raised and lowered alternatively to make a point. Additionally, the influence of speech can manifest itself in a number of ways. It can be used to humiliate, to intimidate, to flirt and to threaten, all of which are integral and pragmatic strategies to win a power struggle. McMurphy uses his power of speech to rally his fellow patients against Nurse Ratched who is constantly revoking their privileges. He also uses it furtively to acquire all that he desires, by conning the other patients. Throughout the movie he is very loud and is known for his unwavering ability to speak his mind and confront those that oppose him. Nurse Ratched uses her voice throughout the movie to intimidate the patients. She is the antagonist of the movie. The patients obsequiously follow Ratched’s command, until McMurphy comes along. They all fear that she will send them for shock therapy if they don’t obey her. Nurse Ratched is the most daunting person of the movie, due in large part to the use of her voice. . Throughout the novel both McMurphy and Nurse Ratched are continually trying to pull each other down. Nurse Ratched using her dominant speaking skills tries to prove to the patients that McMurphy is conning them with his vocalizations, “Look at some of these gifts, as devoted fans of his might call them. First, there was the gift of the tub room. Was that actually his to give? Did he lose anything by acquiring it as a gambling casino? On the other hand, how much do you suppose he made in the short time he was croupier of his little Monte Carlo here on the ward? How much did you lose … I think you all have some idea what your personal losses were, but do you know what his total winning came to, according to deposits he has made at Funds? Almost three hundred dollars.” The Nurse begins to convince the patients that McMurphy is harming them more than helping them. Chief Bromden uses silence very effectively to his advantage. Everyone thinks that he is deaf and dumb, however, his or her perception proves to be erroneous, as we learn at the end. Chief Bromden is a very large man who falsely thinks of himself as being rather diminutive. For him, Chief Bromden’s silence is extremely potent. He is able to hear everything that went on in the meetings where the doctors and nurses discuss the future of the patients. The doctors and nurses don’t think that Chief Bromden can hear what they are saying. They don’t hesitate to say anything in front of him. “They don’t bother not talking out loud about their hate secrets when I’m nearby because they think I’m deaf and dumb.” This is very beneficial because chief Bromden knows what takes place in the ward, and knows what it takes to survive. Silence, however, is not the sole manifestation of control that Bromden utilizes. After Chief Bromden gains all the information that he needs he has no way to act upon it unless he demonstrates the utility of speech. He can protect himself without this ability, but he can’t prevail without it. For Bromden, speech is just as much a key to success as silence is. Thus the combination proves to be the most potent. McMurphy’s realization that Chief Bromden is not really deaf and dumb marks a significant turning point in the movie. It is the first time that anyone hears Chief Bromden speak since he entered the ward fifteen years earlier. The Chief starts talking to McMurphy and his fog disappears. After the Chief begins talking he relishes conveying tales of his childhood and other experiences to McMurphy. As a child he was treated as though he was invisible, enabling him to perfect his skill of listening and not responding, therefore, his pretending to be a deaf mute is rather facile. Ever since Bromden’s revelation that he is not the deaf mute he is perceived to be, he slowly gains more power. Conversely McMurphy and Nurse Ratched are enervated. In the conclusion of the movie, McMurphy loses his sanity and attacks Nurse Ratcheds. Fortunately, the other patients have recovered, due to his efforts, and do not require his services anymore. Even the Chief is restored to his full mental capacity, acting with both logic and sanity, thanks to McMurphy. However, McMurphy’s fate is not as promising. In light of his violation of Nurse Ratched, McMurphy is subject to a lobotomy. The fact that McMurphy is forced to endure such a surgery is strangely ironic. It is McMurphy who has propelled Chief Bromden’s “Psychological restoration,” and now he, physically, is subject to the same ail nesses that were fallaciously believed to plague the chief. Nurse Ratched too suffers a similar fate as McMurphy, as she can no longer verbally communicate, due to the injuries she sustained from McMurphy’s attack. In a paradigm of role reversal, Chief Bromden has become the apex of the ward’s power triangle. He is the sole individual, who is able to utilize both speech and silence. Ultimately, Bromden escapes the ward, effectively fleeing from his past, and is on the path to a more promising future.