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Motifs And Images In One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest By Ken Kesey

1071 words - 5 pages

In Ken Kesey’s, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest there are many recurring motifs and images. One very prominent motif is laughter. Following the motif of laughter throughout the novel, it is mostly associated with McMurphy and power/control. McMurphy teaches the patients how to laugh again and with the laughter the combine loses control and the patients gain their power back.
McMurphy’s first day on the ward, just seconds after entering the room and getting a good look at all the patients, he lets out a rumbling laugh that practically shakes the walls. Bromden, the narrator of the story, tells us that it’s the first laugh he’s heard in years (Kesey, 12). Bromden also tells us that ...view middle of the document...

“-and when he sees how funny it is he goes to laughing, and this aggravates them no end,” (Kesey, 117). But as long as McMurphy continues to laugh, and encourages the other patients to laugh with him, Nurse Ratched has no way of controlling him or putting a stop to all the laughter.
McMurphy’s laughter isn’t the only healing part about him. The energy that his laughter gives off is also healing to the patients. McMurphy comes into the ward full of energy and life from the outside world. The patients are basically lifeless, lethargic, just bodies following the orders of the Big Nurse, going with whatever she has plotted for the day. When McMurphy, this full bodied ball of energy, arrives the patients immediately draw to him, absorbing the energy that he gave off. Little by little the patients who absorbed his energy showed signs of improvement- they were getting better. They began to realize how inhumane some of Miss Ratched’s procedures were and, more importantly, they began to laugh more, out loud, in a more natural way, freeing themselves from her control and in the process becoming more adapted to everyday life- more adapted than Miss Ratched’s plan had gotten them.
The major breakthrough, when the guys really let loose and allowed their laugh to run freely from their lips, occurred whilst on the fishing trip. There was no way for Miss Ratched’s power and scornful look to reach them way out there on the water. Their laughs began the same as they were on the ward, stiff and mechanical, but as the day continued the patients became more relaxed. They all found the truth in laughing to keep from going crazy, “Because he [McMurphy] 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 plum crazy,” (Kesey, 250). The evidence of this was audible in their laughter. “It started slow and pumped itself full, swelling the men bigger and bigger,” (Kesey, 250). The men’s laughter...

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