One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Research Paper

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Is an action truly heroic if it includes personal gain? Author Ken Kesey considers this in his 1960’s novel One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. The novel is told from the point of view of a patient in a psychiatric hospital named Chief Bromden. Chief plays the part of a deaf and dumb man, but all the while has with extreme suspicion of the power system in place. He views those in authoritative positions as part of a larger mechanical system known as the Combine, whose purpose is to keep everyone and everything “in order”. Chief believes it to be invincible and even godly until a new patient comes swaggering in and begins working on destroying the complex tyranny of the Combine. However, this does not come without consequence. During McMurphy’s…show more content…
When Harding begins to explain the physical horrors such as electroshock therapy and lobotomy, McMurphy is disgusted. This shows in the next group therapy meeting when Nurse Ratched tries to punish the men for previous actions against her. After she speaks, McMurphy stands up and walks towards the nurse’s station, claiming he wanted a pack of cigarettes. “...then ran his hand through the glass. It came apart like glass shattering.” (Kesey 201). McMurphy then goes on to smoke and apologize for not noticing the glass while blood runs down his hand and the men look at him in awe. While the glass was whole, it represented a physical barrier between those in power and those crushed under it, and who is safe and who is not. Now, with it shattered, it represents another step towards a balance of power and a sense of safety for all of them. However, in order to break this barrier McMurphy had to go through immediate physical sacrifice and risk stricter and/or more confinement. This is the first time he acts against the nurse after he learns she controls how long he stays, and it deeply inspires the other patients. Demonstrating that heroic actions come with
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