Examples Of Heroism In One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

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What defines a hero? Some may say it is a person who is strong, fast, and fresh from the fight. Others may say they have to be sure, soon, and larger than life. A real hero is someone who self-sacrifices themselves for the greater good. In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey, two heroes are present in the novel, McMurphy and Bromden. Due to McMurphy’s attempts to break down the villainous Nurse Ratched with his particularly disruptive antics despite his selfish motives, and Bromden’s quiet progression to courage, the two are heroes to those in the ward. A former army nurse, Nurse Ratched has the entire ward under her control, going by her schedule and her rules. Everything in the ward has gone by her plan, even the staff was chosen …show more content…

When the staff attempt to wash George and touch him, he throws a fit because of his discomfort. McMurphy exhibits his thoughtfulness for the others by first warning and threatening, and eventually fighting the staff members washing George: “McMurphy shoved the black boy away and went into a crouch, rolling the big shoulders up to guard his chin, his fists on each side of his head, circling the man in front of him” (211). McMurphy defending George proved to the other patients that he truly cared for them. When no one else would stand up for George, McMurphy did so and asked for nothing in return. He received a the punishment of being transferred to the Disturbed Ward and receiving electroshock therapy for standing up for his fellow patient. The heroic action that he took influenced others, particularly Bromden to become a hero …show more content…

The narrator and a chronic patient, Bromden is considered by others to be “deaf and dumb” (1). All of his life, Bromden had been ignored and at the ward he pretends to be mute and deaf. This slowly begins to change once McMurphy arrives. At the group therapy session, Bromden is the final vote for the World Series: “Twenty-one! The Chief’s vote makes it twenty-one!” (111). Normally, Bromden would have ignored what was going on and pretend to not know what they were talking about. In this case, he begins to hint at the fact that he might not be as dumb as everyone perceived him to be. Another significant aspect McMurphy had on Bromden was getting him to speak out loud: “…and told him thank you. It didn’t sound like much because my throat was rusty and my tongue creaked” (167). McMurphy is breaking down Bromden’s walls and shedding a light on his courage. The final notion that exhibited Bromden’s change from zero to hero was when he joined in and helped McMurphy fight the staff member for George. Like the other patients, he could have easily chosen to stand back and just wait for it to unfold, but instead decided to take action when he knew his fellow patient was uncomfortable. It landed him time in the Disturbed Ward and electroshock therapy. This action of standing up for the greater good displays Bromden’s heroic character, brought about by

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