One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest

834 words - 3 pages

Male aggressive dominance McMurphy is linked with the mythical frontier American when he engages in battle with Harding for the position of "Bull Goose Loony": "Then you tell Bull Goose Loony Harding that R. P. McMurphy is waiting to see him and that this hospital ain't big enough for the two of us. I'm accustomed to being top man. I been a bull goose catskinner for every gyppo logging operation in the Northwest and bull goose gambler all the way from Korea, was even bull goose pea weeder on that pea farm at Pendleton-so I figure if I'm bound to be a loony, then I'm bound to be a stompdown dadgum good one. Tell this Hardy that he either meets me man to man or he is a yaller skunk and better be outta town by sunset!" Hardy leans further back, hooks his thumbs in his lapels. "Bibbit, you tell this young upstart McMurphy that I'll meet him in the main hall at high noon and we'll settle this affair once and for all, libidos a-blazin'." Harding tries to drawl like McMurphy; it sounds funny with his high, breathy voice. (21-22) A further linkage of McMurphy with the heroic (male) American past is forged by the fact that he wears a pair of shorts decorated with "big white whales" which recall Melville's Moby Dick.Indeed, so that the reader does not miss the allusion, Kesey has McMurphy relate that the person who gave him the shorts was "'a co-ed at Oregon State, Chief, a Literary major'" who made him the present "'because she said I was a symbol'" (69). Melville is a by no means unambiguous writer. Indeed, in Moby Dick, the white whale may be seen as a symbol of impenetrability which forms the book's focus over its "hero" Captain Ahab.Kesey, however, appears to associate Moby Dick with male aggressiveness/dominance as is shown in this later confrontation between McMurphy and Big Nurse: "What do you think would have happened if one of the young nurses had come in early and found a patient running round the halls without a uniform? What do you think!" The big black boy isn't too sure, but he gets her drift and ambles off to the linen room to get McMurphy a set of greens-probably ten sizes too small-and ambles back and holds it out to him with a look of the clearest hate I ever saw. McMurphy just looks confused, like he don't know how to take the outfit the black boy's handing to...

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