One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Paranoia

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As Phillip K. Dick had once said, “Strange how paranoia can link up with reality now and then.” This quote tells one that the paranoia of a person can change how everything can be perceived. Since the paranoia a person has can cause them to think in absurd ways and react differently to what happens around them, they are essentially using their paranoid mind to change their perception of reality. In Ken Kesey’s One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, paranoia and its effects become prevalent themes in each of the novels. The narrators, Chief Bromden in Kesey’s novel, and Holden Caulfield in Salinger’s tale, are shown to be affected by their paranoia frequently throughout each story. Therefore, paranoia acts as…show more content…
The quote tells of Bromden believing in the “Combine”, a machine that controls everything and makes people “normal”. The paranoia is making him more aware of his surroundings in the sense that he notices all other people outside of the ward to be similar in every way. Chief Bromden views others as if they were perfectly molded by the Combine. This paranoid activity affects Bromden because it gives him a more cautious behavior and his reliability as a narrator decreases because he becomes influenced severely in every way due to his fear and paranoia relating to the Combine.
Furthermore, in J.D. Salinger’s tale, Catcher in the Rye, narrator Holden Caulfield seems to be plagued with paranoia of his own. Caulfield’s paranoia is more realistically based than that of Chief Bromden. Examples of this heightened realistic paranoia can be found in the quotes “I could feel him standing on the shower ledge, right behind my chair, taking a look to see is Stradlater was around.” (Salinger, 26) and “I felt something on my head, some guy’s hand. Boy, it really scared the hell out of me. What it was, it was Mr. Antolini’s hand. […] Boy, I’ll bet I jumped about a thousand feet. […] –boy was I nervous! I started putting on my damn pants in the dark. I could hardly get them on I was so damn nervous.” (Salinger
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Shown in the first quote, Holden Caulfield’s paranoia is expressed by his ability to “feel” exactly who was around him. Due to Holden being able to sense who was near him, readers view insight to his edgy behavior caused by the constant paranoia. To continue, in the second of the above quotes, Caulfield shows his nervousness and paranoia to the reader. When Mr. Antolini gave a reassuring pat on the head to a sleeping Holden, he was met with utmost rejection of the act by Caulfield. This rejection shows Holden Caulfield to be more aware of what is happening, even though he may have misinterpreted the action done. Holden’s realistic paranoia that makes him more aware affects his behavior by causing him to be more on edge during situations, and it reduces his reliability because he views the wrong in the situation even if the intention was of a positive

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