Chief Bromden in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

Chief Bromden in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

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Chief Bromden is a character who has to work his way back to being and acting like a real human after so many years of being 'dehumanized' (Porter 49) into a machine created by the evil Nurse Ratched.
I. Bromden in the beginning
A. Dehumanized by Nurse Ratched
1. structured
2. forbids laughing
3. controlling
B. The effect that the Nurse and the ward have on Bromden 1. could not smell 2. thinks of himself as little 3. hides in the fog 4. fears everything 5. sees himself as comic 6. hallucinates II. Bromden in progress A. Gives up deaf and dumb B. Great turn - around C. Begins to smell things D. Regains his laugh E. Loosens up III. Bromden at the end A. Bromden escapes B. Bromden is a hero C. McMurphy is death; Bromden strength D. Bromden becomes big IV. Conclusion A. Modern world; machines destroy B. Nurse Ratched the machine C. Modern world is the combine Bromden and his Changing Mind In One Flew Over the Cuckoo?s Nest by Ken Kesey, Chief Bromden is a character who has to work his way back to being and acting like a real human after so many years of being ?

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dehumanized? (Porter 49) into a machine created by the evil Nurse Ratched. Bromden begins to change as soon as McMurphy tries to get the guys on the ward to open up and Bromden is the one who gets the most out of Mr. McMurphy?s ?therapy? (97). Chief Bromden finally beats the evil nurse Miss Ratched by escaping from the institution. So ?Broken men - however frightened, beleaguered, splintered, and dehumanized - can be restored to manhood and wholeness? (95). A six foot seven inch Indian named Chief Bromden pretense to be a deaf mute after he watched his father, Chief Tee Ah Millatoona, gets ruined by his white wife. Government agents often came to visit his father about his property. The agents would walk right past Bromden like he was not even there. When people stopped reacting to Bromden, he stopped reacting to the people. At the Combine, which was the name for the ward, Bromden underwent treatment for his medical condition. The Combine split the patients into two categories, the Acutes and the Chronics. The Acutes were the patients that had the ability to getting better while the Chronics had no chance of getting better because of how serious their medical condition is. In the Combine everybody definitely considers Bromden as a Chronic. While in there and everybody thinking he is a deaf mute, Bromden hears information from other people?s conversations that he is not supposed to hear. Throughout the novel Chief Bromden feels small and he is very easily intimidated. Without the help of the newest guy on the ward, Randel Patrick McMurphy, he would have never been able to gain up enough strength to feel good about himself again and escape the ward like he did in the end of the novel. McMurphy helps Bromden tremendously plus everybody else that is on the ward. He guides everybody to be human. McMurphy says Miss Ratched, the Nurse of the Combine, gains her power by making others feel like they have less. She controls everything they do from when they wake up to when they go to bed. McMurphy rebels against Miss Ratched and tries to get the guys on the ward to stand up for themselves too. The patients on the ward are not aloud to laugh loosely according to Miss Ratched. McMurphy says when a man loses his ability to laugh he is not a man anymore. Most of the patients on the ward are dehumanized by Nurse Ratched controlling and orderly attitude. In the novel Bromden shows the most change from McMurphy?s help. Enough change to come back after escaping and retell the story. In the beginning of the novel Bromden was at the point where he was completely dehumanized by Nurse Ratched. Miss. Ratched was the main cause of his dehumanization, but not the start of it. It began is his early childhood with the conflict between his father, the Indian chief, and his white mother that had control over his father. As it says in the Discovering Authors Modules: ?Mrs. Bromden was a domineering women who cared little for her husband?s Indian heritage and was instrumental in selling his land to the government.? Miss Ratched is in a way just like Bromden?s mother. The way his mother wore down his father by making him feel small and little is the same thing Nurse Ratched is doing to Bromden while on the ward (Wallace 8). After Bromden?s father was dehumanized by his wife it is Bromden?s turn, assuming from Discovering Authors Modules that this ?novel is a fictionalized account of his childhood experience? (8). If the story Bromden told us about his early childhood background is true and sit is parallel to the plot of the novel then we can assume that Bromden is going to get dehumanized by Nurse Ratched. So this is how Bromden starts out the novel, dehumanized and feeling smaller and weaker. While Bromden is feeling dehumanized and small Miss Ratched has the ward well structured and running smooth. She has everything running on time and if something is out of place she will fix it right away because to her there is no such thing as unorganized (Kesey 26). As Porter points out, since Miss Ratched is an ex-army nurse she is used to the high demands on order. Her life was always structured and she expects everybody and everything else to be the same way (48). With structure there comes control, because structure is highly unlikely to exist without some sort of control. If there was no control over the patients on the ward then there definitely would be no structure because that is what the patients are there for, a little structure in their lives. Throughout the beginning of the novel Bromden was always complaining that Nurse Ratched has too much control over things. For example, in the novel, Bromden says Nurse Ratched can speed up time or slow down time depending what she wanted to do (Kesey 73). He also says that she is controlling a fog machine when she sits behind the window at her control panel and sometimes it could last hours on end (75). So with all the control she has over the ward the patients really feel pressured to do what ever she says. The one thing that Nurse Ratched has control of that really hurts the Combine is laughter. As Porter says, everybody sees Miss Ratched as a machine and not as a human. They think she is dehumanized herself along with them. To Bromden the tip of each ?finger was the same color as her lips. Funny orange. Like the tip of a sodering iron? (Kesey 4) (49). Bromden and all the other patients on the ward are not thought of as human beings. Miss Ratched thinks of them as just objects or pieces of machinery, so she treated them like pieces of machinery. With structure and control a playing a big part in the daily lives of the men on the ward, Miss Ratched does not see how the pressure of her control and wanting a structured environment had an negative mental effect on the patients. Bromden does not have that free laugh. As with McMurphy, Bromden?s ?therapist? he had a laugh with no resistance. Porter says, ?The inability to laugh therefore is a gauge of the combine?s pressure...? (97). The patients on the ward never just laugh loosely because they feel the pressure of Nurse Ratched when she is sitting behind the glass window of her office looking at them. With the resistance to laugh Bromden also could not smell the usual things that normal men can smell. All that he could smell was the oil from the machines and the heated machinery (Porter 30). He could not only smell the machines, he often hallucinated allot about them also. Sometimes he would see machines in his room at night when everybody else was asleep. The chief is a ?comic character? who literally sees ?microphones in the broom handles, wires in the walls, and pernicious devices in the electric shavers? (Wallace 8). Bromden at this point is not human. Leeds says ?the Combine, committed as it is to the supremacy of technology over humanity, extends its influence by dehumanizing men and making them machines? (20). The pressure from Nurse Ratched dehumanized Bromden to where now he begins to see and smell things that a normal human being would not. The final effect that Miss Ratched has on Bromden is his fear of everything. Kesey tries to get the reader to notice real quickly that they are dealing with a scared and intimidated character. He also wants to produces the impression of a mind that works oddly Kesey opens up the novel with Bromden saying ?They?re out there? (3). All these problems that Bromden has comes from Miss Ratched. If she was not so structured and hung up on control Bromden would not be this weak and dehumanized. In order for Bromden to gain his strength back from Nurse Ratched?s dehumanization, he has to overcome her control. One way to break the control is learning how to laugh. When McMurphy and Bromden were up stairs waiting for there shock treatment McMurphy offered Bromden a piece of gum and he took it then started to laugh. Ronald Wallace said in discovering Authors Modules said, ?The chief must regain his laugh before he can regain his speech, and his first words to McMurphy when he has stopped laughing are ?thank you.? Having recovered his comic sense Bromden recovers his health? (9). At this point Bromden begins to show signs of sanity because he gives up the deaf and dumb role (Fish 17). As soon as Bromden regains his comic sense and gives up his deaf and dumb role everything else seems to fall right in place. He begins to smell things a man should smell. Tanner say?s Bromden begins to smell different odors. ?... Not until McMurphy came was there ?the man smell of dust and dirt from open fields, and sweat, and work? (98).? Bromden is determined not to let Nurse Ratched destroy him with her ?soul-destroying method? (ken@hotmail.com 1). Bromden recognizes a picture that he never saw on the awards wall of a fisherman on a mountain stream. He begins imagining the smells that the fisherman would smell (31). The things he smells now compared to hot oiled machines are more natural and relaxing. Tanner states that ?This reawaked sensitivity to the world of nature, his home environment, is a positive sign that Bromden is developing a resistance to the machine world of the hospital.? (32) Which means that Bromden is now beginning to resist Nurse Ratched?s control she has over him. Now that Bromden is creating a resistance to Nurse Ratched he is finding out there is more to life than just the institution, and McMurphy tries to show him this by taking some guys on the ward, plus Bromden, on a fishing trip. On their way they stooped at a gas station and two attendants gave McMurphy a hard time about showing up with a bunch of loonies. The patients in the car got depressed because they know what is going on. McMurphy sees in the car that the guys are getting pretty much ashamed for themselves and wanting to say screw it all and go home. From Discovering Authors Modules Ronald Wallace explained that when McMurphy saw this he helps the inmates gain more pride by freighting the attendants. He tells the attendants what the inmates are in for, describing it with great detail hoping to frighten the attendants into thinking they are so nuts they could flip out and kill them any second. ?McMurphy gives him the example of standing up to and occasionally beating the apparently all-powerful Combine? (Macky 4712). Between the black boys and the other patience on the ward Bromden gets picked on right in front of his face just as the two attendants picked on them when they were in the car. McMurphy gave him one example of standing up to that kind of punishment. So no matter how much Bromden was dehumanized by all the punishment the Combine had given him, he did not let that ruin his whole life. Even though he was considered a chronic which meant there was no help for him mentally he is improving as a human being from McMurphy?s help. McMurphy is helping Bromden to improve by giving him a little pride for himself. The end of Bromden ?therapy? (Porter 97) McMurphy has brought Bromden back to strength again. The guys on the ward were getting checked and cleaned for crabs (Kesey 260). One of the patients on the ward named George was scared to get cleaned by one of the black aids. McMurphy told the aid just to forget about him and move on to the next guy. When the aid refuses McMurphy starts a fight with him. One of the black aids pin McMurphy down to the floor (261). Right now Bromden sees himself in a different light then he did before. He begins seeing this when McMurphy is pinned on the floor by one of the black aids (McCreadie 505). Bromden joins in the fight to help McMurphy defeat the black boys. After more of the aids got the situation under control, McMurphy and Bromden were sent up stairs to receive shock therapy. After the shock therapy McMurphy through a party for the patients just so they would have some fun before he escapes the next morning. When morning arrived McMurphy forgot to leave because he fell asleep and later on he finds out that one of the patients had killed themselves (Kesey 304). Nurse Ratched blames his death on the whole ward making everybody fell like it was their fault by them playing God (304). McMurphy gets so angry that he breaks down her door and ripped her shirt off so her big breast would be shown (305). Nurse Ratched then orders for McMurphy to have a lobotomy. The next time the patients see McMurphy is when he is brain dead. At this point Bromden is fully back to strength again. It is symbolically represented when Bromden tries to put McMurphy?s hat on and it does not fit because he has grown to full size. Peter Fish said at the end of the book the chief has switched places with McMurphy (17). This means McMurphy is now becoming weak and he is beginning to lose against the Big Nurse while Bromden is making progress. McMurphy ultimately loses against Nurse Ratched when she gave him a lobotomy. When Bromden saw this he felt that since McMurphy helped him out by teaching him to become more of a human being, he would help him out and not let hum sit there in bed for the rest of his life and suffer. So Bromden smothered McMurphy with his own pillow. Ronald Wallace said in Discovering Authors Modules that Bromden is ?comic, and he is also a hero. ?I kept getting this notion that I wanted to sign the list. And the more he talked about fishing for Chinook salmonthe more I wanted to go. I knew it was a fool thing to want; if I signed up it?d be the same as come right out and telling everybody I wasn?t deaf. If I?d been hearing all this talk about boats and fishing it?d show I?d been hearing everything else that?d been said in confidence around me for the past ten years. And if the Big Nurse found out about that, that I?d heard all the scheming and treachery that had gone on when she didn?t think anybody was listening, she?d hunt me down with an electric saw, fix me where she knew I was deaf and dumb. Bad as I wanted to go, it still made me smile a little to think about it: I had to keep on acting deaf if I wanted to hear at all? (Kesey 197). The quote from the novel above proves since Bromden has written the novel, it is Bromden himself who exposes his own comedy. The plot traces Bromden?s growth toward the kind of comic perspective that enables him to write such a novel. When he can turn the combine into a comedy, he has defeated it.? In the novel during the fishing trip Bromden wanted to go, but he had no way of signing up because he did not want to give up his deaf and dumb role. Bromden learns to look at his life as a ?comic fiction? and then to ?transform that fiction into art.? After Bromden had smothered McMurphy he lifted the control panel which McMurphy tried to lift previously in story. When he picks up the control panel he is overcoming the control that the ward had on him. He is taking all that control they had over him for so many years and he is throwing it out of the window. When Bromden escapes he does not see the dog that has always been around the window, but only the footsteps. Leeds explains that when Bromden escapes, he is associated with the geese that were flying overhead. The dog that was not there, but only the footsteps was associated with McMurphy. He says this means that when Bromden escapes he is really flying over the cuckoo?s nest following in McMurphy?s footsteps (29). So by the end of the story it is evident that Bromden did overcome the control, gained his strength, and returned to his true size. From when McMurphy arrives at the Combine, to when Bromden makes his escape he is changing all the time. He is changing for the better. He started out as a machine that just respond to stimuli in the ward, and then he slowly progressed until he had enough strength to make his escape. Bromden defines the combine as a modal of the world. Miss Ratched wants to robotize the men in the ward so when they leave they are an example to society (Leeds 20). So no matter how bad Bromden got dehumanized he succeeded to come back strong. ?In the modern world, machines destroy nature, efficiency comes before beauty and robot-like cooperation is more valued then the individual freedom? (15). This is the same thing Nurse Ratched is trying to do to the Combine. She wants everything to run how it is suppose to first, then if there is free time that comes last. People today are the same way. They want everything to run perfect with no error. That is why people now build robots to do the work for us because they realized that people aren?t perfect. Now since the robots are now getting all the jobs allot of people are out of work which means they are now low on money. Without money you can?t do anything in this world because nothing is for free.


Bibliography:

Kesey, Ken. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. London: Pan, 1973.
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