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One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest By Ken Kessey

1253 words - 6 pages

Ken Kesey’s, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is based largely through the conflict between Nurse Ratched and Randle Patrick McMurphy. Kesey explores the themes of individuality and rebellion against conformity, ideas that were widely discussed at the time about psychiatric hospitals. The book is narrated by “Chief” Bromden, a gigantic and half- Native American patient who is thought to be deaf and mute. Bromden focuses on the antics of the rebellious Randle McMurphy, who is out to manipulate the system to his advantages. The head nurse, Mildred Ratched who is known as “Big Nurse” or “Nurse Ratched” by her patients; rules the ward with an iron fist and with little medical oversight. From the ...view middle of the document...

That women during this time period was not necessarily seen as authority figures, with her womanly breast it shows her one weakness and that she is still a women. Although this does not affect her authority figure, Kesey makes the point that she’s a woman.
The day Randle McMurphy arrives is a day that everyone in the ward would remember. His rowdy, brassy voice and his confident swagger walk precede McMurphy’s appearance. While he was getting toured around the ward he laughs when the patients are stunned by his entrance; the man who is explaining the ward as a “cheery atmosphere and claiming that the ward is ran without the brutality exercised in pervious generations” (Kesey, 16). This was the first honest laugh that the ward had heard in years.
Randle McMurphy, a large redhead with a devilish grin, swaggers around the ward in his dirty work farm cloths as he proceeded to introduce himself to the ward, “ My name is McMurphy, buddies, R.P. McMurphy, and I’m a gabling fool. And whenever I meet with a deck a card I lays my money down,” (Kesey, 17) as he proceeds to a cards game and laughs. He requested to be transferred to the hospital to escape the labor of the Pendleton Work Farm thinking he would be able to intimidate and manipulate his way around the hospital.
The first meeting between McMurphy and Nurse Ratched came during the group meeting. She opens the topic of Harding’s difficult relationship with his wife, McMurphy realizing how she goes about her patients he laughs at her and makes vulgar jokes. At the nurse’s expense she fires back by reading McMurphy’s file out loud, focusing on his arrest for statutory rape. McMurphy not allowing Nurse Ratched to win he makes joke about his sexual feelings for his fifteen year old lover. Even Doctor Spivey, the head doctor at the ward laughs at McMurphy’s jokes. From this point on the power struggle between McMurphy and Nurse Ratched turns to war. Randle McMurphy continues his rebellious ways throughout the book; he runs a card table, comments on Nurse Ratched’s figure, takes the patients on a fishing trip, and persuades the other patients to take a stand against her. He actually conducts a democracy like vote on watching the World Series during a time where they are not allowed to watch TV. McMurphy doing whatever he can to screw up and ruin Nurse Ratched’s ways of dictatorship around the ward. McMurphy agrees with Bromden that Ratched is cruel, vicious women. He actually makes a bet with some of the patients that he could make Nurse Ratched lose her temper within a week....

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