Analyses of the Extent to Which the Reliability of the Narrator Can Affect the Reader's Understanding of Events in One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest.

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In Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a patient suffering from schizophrenia was chosen to narrate the story, which greatly affects our perception of the events in the novel. The world that Kesey creates in the novel is through the eyes of Chief Bromden, a chronic patient in the ward. Bromden’s observant nature causes for very detailed descriptions of the events in the novel. Chief fakes being deaf, and as a result, he is able to eavesdrop any conversation in the ward, often being able to reveal foreshadowing details, and otherwise secret information. Although these characteristics make him a reliable source and a good narrator, Chief’s schizophrenic episodes and paranoid nature create skewed views of reality, with very little distinction as to what is a literary device, or what is literally a hallucination. If the narration were given through a more rational character, such as McMurphy, the differentiation between delusion and actuality would have been more cogent. Using Chief Bromden as a narrator restricts the reader’s perception of the novel, despite this, a very reliable and creative perspective of the events is then created, which gives a huge edge to the novel. The very detailed accounts of the events make each scene seem more real. As the very descriptive narrator that Bromden is, the world that he describes is very unique. Chief uses the metaphor that the world is a “combine” in that it takes the undesirable or less than perfect members of society, mangles, chops, and slashes them into the proper shape and size for acceptability, and then spits them right back out. In the words of Bromden, “The ward is a factory for the Combine. It's for fixing up mistakes made in the neighborhoods and in the schools and in the churches, the hospital is. When a completed product goes back out into society, all fixed up good as new, better than new sometimes, it brings joy to the Big Nurse's heart.” It’s these kinds of comparisons made by Bromden that are...
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