Heroism In One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

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Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a novel that takes place in the 1960’s within the walls of a mental institution. The main character, Chief, tells the story without speaking through a majority of the book. The Chief is not the hero of Kesey’s. A man by the name of McMurphy is the hero of the world crafted by Ken Kesey and his villain is a woman by the name of Miss. Ratched, or Big Nurse. Patrick McMurphy comes to the mental institution in order to get away from his life on a farm. Little does he know that he’s about to save the patients from themselves and from the Big Nurse with his own self-aware strength. McMurphy is a character who knows who he is and what he wants. He waltzes among the praises and attention others give to…show more content…
His strength is what keeps the characters going, keeps them believing that they have a say and that they have a choice. So long as they live, so is there hope. Kesey writes that, “…you can’t really be strong until you can see the funny side of things.” (pg. 203). His message is that even carefree people can be heroes. That heroes don’t always have to be wholly serious. McMurphy is a fun-loving guy who throws caution to the wind and is still the hero of the patients at the mental institution. Farther into the book, Kesey says that “Because he knows you have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from running you plumb crazy.” (pg. 212). McMurphy wanted out of working on a farm, so he decided to get himself institutionalized. He is someone who is unafraid to laugh in a building overtaken by somber darkness. Kesey proves McMurphy is a hero in one other way. He uses the line, “…three geese inna flock…one flew east, one flew west, one flew over the cuckoo’s nest.” (pg. 239). A powerful line for corresponding the title with the work, it is also a metaphor for McMurphy and his two female friends, Candy and Sandy. Candy and Sandy would be represented as the two geese who flew east and west, helping the lead goose give the patients some form of hope. They help the patients see what people from the real world are like, let them know that just because they indulge in sex and…show more content…
McMurphy is in no way an ideal hero. He does care for the patients, but his original motive is himself. He is carefree, perhaps almost careless toward the end of the novel. Miss Ratched is the antagonist of the story about mentally ill patients, but also to McMurphy’s story. She is out to snuff out his flame because a spark is all that is needed to start a forest
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