Character Development In 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest'

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Taryn Bathurst Ms. Ryan AP Literature - 3 21 March 2023 Chief Bromden’s Character Development In the novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the narrator, Chief Bromden’s development from a silent observer to a runaway rebel illustrates the need to challenge oppressive authorities. From the beginning of the novel, the other patients have already tagged Chief Bromden as useless, telling McMurphy when he arrives at the hospital that the Chief is “just a bi-big deaf Indian”(Kesey 24). From the reader’s point of view, this is ironic because we know that the Chief can actually hear but pretends to be deaf so that he can get inside intel from everyone. The Chief has assumed this fly on the wall role so that people don’t notice him and he blends in …show more content…

Because of this, all the other patients assume he is dumb and just ignore him. McMurphy however sees something special in the Chief and discovers he is not deaf and is actually quite smart. McMurphy sees how he can use the Chief to one day escape the hospital and they form a bond with each other. One day, McMurphy is trying to encourage Chief Bromden to train him to lift the control panel and in his pitch says “There you’ll be. It’s the Big Chief Bromden, cutting down the boulevard-men, women, and kids rockin’ back on their heels to peer at him…” (Kesey 223). Here, McMurphy is inspiring confidence in Chief Bromden by showing him the potential that McMurphy has seen in him all along. By building him up, McMurphy is motivating the Chief to step out of his shell and away from the quiet, meek patient that Nurse Ratched wants him to be. By the end of the novel, Chief Bromden is no longer the docile, tame patient he was in the beginning of the novel. He has become a challenging force to the way Nurse Ratched controls the hospital by killing McMurphy himself. Nurse Ratched initially lobotomized McMurphy in order to set an example for the other patients and keep them in check but Chief Bromden destroys this attempt by putting McMurphy out of his misery saying “I …show more content…

From the beginning of the novel, the mental hospital is set up to be a boring, monotonous place as Nurse Ratched controls every part of the patients lives from having “everything the guys think and say and do [worked] out months in advance” to “the Acutes [lining] up in alphabetical order at the mirrors” (Kesey 31). With everything revolving around Nurse Ratched’s schedule and reign, the hospital acts very mechanically. Everything is hyper organized and everyone in there is part of a machine that causes the hospital to continue to run smoothly and Nurse Ratched controls this machine. Nurse Ratched has been able to maintain this absolute control through methods such as electroshock therapy. The hospital is allowed to use debilitating treatments like this because “in this country, when something is out of order, then the quickest way to get it fixed is the best way” (Kesey 190). In the 1950’s society, mental hospitals are where people who were considered “out of order” were stashed so they did not have to deal with the problem themselves. Electroshock therapy was considered to be a cure at the time so it was allowed because it was meant to fix the patients who needed it, but Nurse Ratched instead used it as a weapon and punishment. By forcing the electroshock

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