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The Role Of Perception In "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest".

1127 words - 5 pages

What is truth? This is a question that has been pondered upon by philosophers throughout the ages. Gustave Flaubert once said: " There is no truth, there is only perception". This point of view can easily be defended but, on such a vast subject, one must dig deeper into the question to find the answer. On a problem such as this, there may be many truths applicable to different situations and circumstances. Are all truths based solely upon one's perception of the actions around him or are there some universal truths that are valid in every situation? In the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, the theme of truth is explored and corresponds well, for the most part, to Gustave Flaubert's hypothesis; that truth is in the eye of the beholder.Society has always imposed truths by enacting laws or via popular opinions. These truths, known as doxas or unwritten laws have such a bearing on how people think that they actually define how one may act towards someone who does not conform to them. Regardless of whether one has experienced these "differences" in the way an other leads their life, we are all inclined to follow the doxa, to agree with it and therefore support it. Society enforces these rules by excluding those who do not follow them and such is the case in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The characters of this novel are barred from society for this precise reason.However truths change and consequently, cannot be applied to each and every generation. Most scientific advances have been achieved by throwing out these so-called "truths", which allowed new ones to be established. The Chief in this novel has encountered people that base their actions on truths that no longer apply. "They don't come to our village because they probably think we still scalp people." (p.179) The general idea transmitted by the Chief's hypothesis is true. People have always been afraid of new and different things and consequently do not try to approach those who are different as in the Indian village. Another example that supports this theory is the reaction of the gas station attendants when they find out the truth about the passengers of the car. " I could tell that they had decided to sell us gas..."(p.200). The fact that they are workers at the asylum and not patients convinces the attendants to sell them gas. This is another example of how the truth affects the way people react to certain situations. "I had to keep acting deaf if I wanted to hear at all." (p.178) This is perhaps the most flagrant illustration of how the truth affects the way people act. The fact that his hearing determines how much people speak around him, or fail to do so, exemplifies how acts can suddenly be changed by a variation in the truth.The answer to how society should deal with the differences that are present within it may never be answered. In this novel we do, however, get the response to the question of how society currently deals with those differences."I discovered at an early age...

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