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One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest is one of those books that I am glad to have read. This book has lots of twists, turns and unexpected events. Two characters that stick out in my mind are Chief Bromden and Mc Murphy. In the beginning of the story Chief Bromden seemed to be reclusive and drawn into his own imagination. Everything that he saw or felt was paralleled with the likeness of a machine. Then a little bit later Mc Murphy comes along with his direct attitude and masculinity that he felt the need to assert from day one. His character gave me the sense that the cruelty that the other men faced by the hands of Ms. Ratched was soon to be over. But both men surprised me with the way their characters changed in the end. The question posed is, who is the real hero, Mc Murphy or Chief Bromden? Well this is no easy question to answer, but in order for me to begin to think along those lines I have to explain what impression each character had on me.
In the beginning I was not connected to Chief Bromden. I had a hard time relating to and understanding his character, which to me did not stand out as anything significant but fit the typical picture of what a mentally insane person would be. At times it seemed as though his thoughts were erratic, for instance, when he was describing the black boys talking in a huddle as "the humming of black machinery", or comparing Ms. Ratched's chest as a "manufacturers defect." I immediately came to the conclusion that he was really crazy, I did not think that his character would change to be one the strongest in the book. My opinion about Chief Bromden being crazy was quickly changed when I learned of his early childhood, and understood why he did not talk and pretended to be deaf. I figured that because he had to basically keep all of his thoughts to himself there had to be a way to express them.
The character that I had an immediate connection with was Mc Murphy. I think that this happened because of the way he came onto the ward. His laughter and direct attitude was strong and funny; it was a break from the boring gray cloud that seemed to loom over the patients.
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I think that the main thing that I liked about this story was how Chief Bromden and Mc Murphy switched roles. In the beginning Chief Bromden made the impression that he was quiet, not necessarily a weak person, but he did not pose any threat to anyone. The relationship that he developed with Mc Murphy allowed him to obtain strength that benefited both of them later. I would have never thought that he could get the nerve to actually suffocate Mc Murphy after the lobotomy. Although this was sad and unexpected, I was happy that Mc Murphy would not lead a senseless life in a vegetative state. More importantly, I was glad that Chief Bromden was no longer afraid, but stepped out of the shell that he had been in for so long.
As much as I was happy for Chief Bromden's strength, I was saddened by Mc Murphy's sacrifice and decline. I feel like Mc Murphy had contributed so much in the beginning and that toward the end it was sad for him to be overtaken the way that he was. I had not expected him to end up the way that he did. I felt that through all of his cons and games that Mc Murphy was a genuine person. He may not have been the ideal citizen to others, but he was true to himself. I think that his weakness came mentally and physically after the lobotomy but before he had the chance to linger in that state, Bromden took care of him so that he would not suffer.
I like the way he stood up for what he believed in, even when he realized how much he had to lose. I remember when the men were on the fishing boat and they all roared in laughter while Mc Murphy sat back and watched. At this point I think that Mc Murphy had realized that the good had already been done, and that the men were on their way to freedom. Some physically leaving the institution, some gaining mental clearance, and in the case of Bromden I think that he gained both.
In the case of who the real hero is I think that both men share the title equally. I do not believe that one could have found any solace without the aid of the other. If Mc Murphy had not shown up with the attitude that he had, Bromden and the others probably would have still stayed quiet and followed the same pattern. However, had it not been for the selflessness demonstrated by Bromden in the end, Mc Murphy would have served as an example for the Big Nurse to show the other patients. Therefore, leaving his life in limbo and torment.
At the end of the day I feel like Chief Bromden and Mc Murphy had several exchanges. In the case of Mc Murphy I found that he had exchanged his rowdy loud talk for peace and calmness, leadership for friendship, and ultimately in the end life for death, by the hands of his hero, Bromden. For Bromden, I saw the transfer of strength for weakness, solitude for companionship, and bondage for freedom. I think that the freedom that Bromden obtained in the end was good enough for him and McMurphy, his hero.