One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest

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Ken Kesey's novel One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest takes place in a mental hospital. The main character, or protagonist is Randle P. McMurphy, a convicted criminal and gambler who feigns insanity to get out of a prisoners work ranch. The antagonist is Nurse Ratched also referred to as The Big Nurse . She is in charge of running the mental ward. The novel is narrated by a patient of the hospital, an American Indian named Chief Bromden. Chief Bromden has been a patient at the hospital longer than any of the others, and is a paranoid-schizophrenic, who is posing as a deaf mute. The Chief often drifts in and out between reality and his psychosis. The conflict in the novel is between McMurphy and The Big Nurse which turns into a battle of mythic proportion. The center of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest is this battle between the two, which Kesey uses to represent many of our cultures most influential stories. The dominant theme in this novel is that of conformity and it's pressure on today's society. In the novel conformity is represented as a machine , or in Chief Bromden's mind a combine . To the Chief, the combine' depicts the conformist society of America, this is evident in one particular paragraph: This excerpt not only explains the Chiefs outlook on society as a machine but also his self outlook and how society treats a person who is unable to conform to society, or more poignantly one who is unable to cope with the inability to conform to society. The chief views the mental hospital as a big machine as well, which is run by The Big Nurse who controls everyone except McMurphy with wires and a control panel. In the Chiefs eyes McMurphy was missed by the combine, as the Chief and the other patients are casualties of it. Therefore McMurphy is an unconformist and is unencumbered by the wires of The Big Nurse and so he is a threat to the combine. McMurphy represents the antithesis to the mechanical regularity, therefore he represents...
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