Conformity In One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

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In the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, author Ken Kesey uses the motif of the Combine to convey the theme that conformity brainwashes people into lacking personality. The Combine is portrayed by narrator, Chief Bromden as a large machine in which all parts are unified in order to work efficiently. Therefore, since all parts depend on each other, they must be programmed similarly. Individuals have been stripped of their own personality and freedom, as a result. Society at the time is portrayed through the hospital; forcing everyone there to conform to its rules. The rules were to remain unbroken and accepted, resulting in a vanish of varied personalities. Taking place in the 1960s, anyone who took an oppositional stance was considered traitorous and daring, in both the novel and in the real world. Randle McMurphy is the freedom fighter of the novel. Kesey incorporates him as a free thinker, in order to open the eyes of others in the ward. As the protagonist, McMurphy helps the men see that their lives are worth much more than what they have been convinced by the Big Nurse. This is hard for them to realize, however, since they have previously been brainwashed of their individuality as a result of conforming to society. …show more content…

Therefore, if anyone refuses to adapt, cruel consequences including shock therapy are given in order to ‘fix’ these outliers, as they are considered disobedient. Bromden, on the other hand, realizes that if he does not watch out, “people will force [him] one way or the other, into doing what they think [he] should do” (180). This goes for all the men on the ward as well. Although Bromden conformed, allowing the Combine to make him feel weak for a long period of time, he overcame this. With the help of McMurphy, Chief was able to regain his power as an individual, rather than a

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