Power In One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

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Having a choice or a say in an important matter is something most people treasure; the fact that we have control over our future. To other, these decisions can be more burdensome than liberating. They can cause one great stress and anxiety if one sees himself unfit to make that weighing decision. Overly-anxious people prefer to give up this decision-making power to another trusted person. The patients Ken Kesey describes in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest are content giving up this privilege that everyone is entitled to, until Randle McMurphy makes them aware of what they’re missing out on. The group of men cling to the ward as if it is their safety net and structure protecting them from the “real world”. They hide among the other patients, in…show more content…
McMurphy comes into this world of secrecy and, like a bird being startled out into the open; he brings the underlying desires of the group into the light. He is the catalyst that opens the men’s minds to an idea that they were otherwise unaware of, the thought of exercising their own free will. Bromden shares an experience of his past that is parallel to the new situation in the ward. “The bird is safe as long as he keeps still” (7), the men, like the bird, share the idea that staying quiet and unexposed protects them from the danger that waits if they show the combine their true selves. They remain in the safety of the nest and are comfortable in that state of being controlled. McMurphy introduces the idea of freedom to them— freedom to make their own choices regarding everything from what time they wake up, when they brush their teeth, to what medicine they take. With this new freedom that McMurphy brings comes great risk: “Then the bird breaks free… jumps out of the cedar into the birdshot” (7). At first the men aren’t quite convinced that have the ability to make these choices themselves, after all, Nurse Ratched has been making all the decisions in the ward without question. As McMurphy fights to get the
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