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One Who Flew over the Cuckoos Nest Passage Analysis

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Passage A:

“We must take away a privilege. And after careful consideration of the circumstances of this rebellion, we’ve decided that there would be a certain justice in taking away the privilege of the tub room that you men have been using for your card games during the day. Does this seem unfair?” Her head didn’t move. She didn’t look. But one by one everybody else looked at him sitting there in his corner. Even the old Chronics, wondering why everybody had turned to look in one direction, stretched out their scrawny necks like birds and turned to look at McMurphy -

faces turned to him, full of a naked, scared hope.”(Kesey 163)

Passage B:

When they first used that fog machine on the ward, one they

bought from Army Surplus and hid in the vents in the new place before we moved in, I kept looking at anything that appeared out of the fog as long and hard as I could, to keep track of it, just like I used to do when they fogged the airfields in Europe. Nobody’d be blowing a horn to show the way, there was no rope to hold to, so fixing my eyes on something was the only way I kept from getting lost. Sometimes I got lost in it anyway, got in too deep, trying to hide, and every time I did, it seemed like I always turned up at that same place, at that same metal door with the row of rivets like eyes and no number, just like the room behind that door drew me to it, no matter how hard I tried to stay away, just like the current generated by the fiends in that room was conducted in a beam along the fog and pulled me back along it like a robot. I’d wander for days in the fog, scared I’d never see another thing, then there’d be that door, opening to show me the mattress padding on the other side to stop out the sounds, the men standing in a line like zombies among shiny copper wires and tubes pulsing light, and the bright scrape of arcing electricity. I’d take my place in the line and wait my turn at the table. The table shaped like a cross, with shadows of a thousand murdered men printed on it, silhouette wrists and ankles running under leather straps sweated green with use, a silhouette neck and head running up to a silver band goes across the forehead. And a technician at the controls beside the table looking up from his dials and down the line and pointing at me with a rubber glove. “Wait, I know that big bastard there - better rabbit-punch him or call for some more help or something. He’s an awful case for thrashing around.” (Kesey 116)

In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a novel written in 1962 by Ken Kesey, the overall claim in the small community of the ward, also attributes to the larger society in the outside world. Kesey believes that authorities seek to keep people in a confined set of specifications using the power of fear as a way to keep people from breaking free and that those who deviate from those specifications can also inflict fear in the hearts of those who attempt to oppress them. To better present this idea of fear, Kesey uses punishment and alienation to emphasize how fear is implemented and its effects on the members of an oppressed community and these to passages do the best job of exemplifying that.

Throughout the novel, Kesey presents several forms of punishment that for the time period and setting of a mental institution, however; it was most likely far deeper than simply trying to be accurate. Kesey uses these punishments to show how powerful of a toll it can be to instill fear in others in order to maintain a certain level of order. This is the first example of this is when the big nurse addresses the patients after a “rebellion” and explains “we’ve decided that there would be a certain justice in taking away the privilege of the tub room…”(163). In this case, it wasn’t the patients who were afraid, it was actually nurse Rached. When McMurphy started a fight with the black boys, he was the catalyst was a very chaotic event. This also led to Bromden getting involved and helping to defend McMurphy and causing a panic across the ward both with patients and the staff. The authority, in this case, was nurse Rached who was actually afraid because she is beginning to realize the influence McMurphy has over the others and how this may be able to undermine her authority on the ward. The power someone can gain by simply going against authority is evident here. McMurphy was able to successfully instill fear in the “combine”, as referred to by chief, and the response was for the big nurse to inflict punishments and “justice” to try and re-establish her power. Society uses justice as a way to justify limiting people who do something that had been deemed wrong by either those who are in control or the social norms of the society

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