Character Analysis-Chief Bromden

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Chief Bromden, branded “Chief Broom” by the ward because he takes charge in sweeping the floors, is the narrator of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Not only does he tell the story of the hospital life and the Acutes, but he also tells of his journey towards sanity. “They don’t bother not talking out loud about their hate secrets....because they think I’m deaf and dumb. I’m cagey enough to fool them...” (Page 10, lines 3-6) Bromden stands six feet seven inches and is a deaf mute by choice. Chief knows that being deaf and dumb gives him intangible power over the staff and patients. When R.P. McMurphy is admitted to the hospital, Chief is caught off guard by the disruption he brings to the ward. “...and especially with that wide open laugh of his.” (Page 22, line 15) The reader can begin to sense annoyance towards McMurphy, but yet jealousy and curiosity towards his rebellious, free spirit.

In the story, Chief Bromden plays a very discrete role in the story. After Chief breaks his vow to remain deaf and dumb, he and McMurphy have an eternal bond. “I dropped back until I was walking beside McMurphy... I wanted to tell him not to fret...” (Page 169, lines 9,10) Chief is tender towards McMurphy, wanting to assure him. In my opinion, Bromden acts as the big brother to all. Even though McMurphy helps Bromden come out of the ‘fog’, the aftermath of electroshock therapy, Bromden supports McMurphy when he cannot support himself.

In the beginning of the story, Chief Bromden is under a constant fog, thick with guilt of hearing and seeing all. We notice the rise of Chief when McMurphy ‘unchains’ him from the power of the fog and from Nurse Ratched. The reader can begin to notice this substantially when Chief begins to speak once again. “And before I realized what I was doing, I told him thank you.” (Page 185, lines 3-4) McMurphy presents Chief with a pack of juicy fruit gum. Chief is caught off guard by the generosity and kind-heartedness of McMurphy, and his knee jerk...
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