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McmUrphy's Journey in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Essay


Conflicts or battles can be described as a struggle between two or more opposing forces caused by disagreement or dispute. In the novel One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kesey, the author uses conflict to develop themes. Through the eyes of Chief Bromden, a mute Indian, the novel describes a story of a psychiatric hospital and a new patient by the name of Randle McMurphy and his on-going fight with the sinister Nurse Ratched. When McMurphy enters the ward, many of the patients are confused by his out-going and fun-loving attitude and when he tries to get the patients to start being themselves and breaking them out of their comfort zones, McMurphy has a lot of trouble achieving his goal. When the patients start to follow the ways of McMurphy, they start to recognize that he is an excellent guide in attaining individuality. One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest reveals that a true leader empowers his followers and gives them strength, rather than taking that strength away.

During most of the group therapy sessions, the patients have a small window of time to express their feelings or reveal something that has been on their mind constantly. One session in specific, McMurphy proposes and idea to watch TV in the afternoon and do the cleaning chores in the night because the World Series is on and he wants to watch it. Nurse Ratched, surprisingly, agrees to the suggestion but wants to hold a vote on who wants to change the schedule so the patients can watch the World Series. As soon as the vote begins, hands start flying up and McMurphy is ecstatic. Off down the slope I see them, other hands coming up out of the fog. Its likethat big red hand of McMurphy is reaching into the fog and dropping down and dragging the men up by their hands (Kesey 121). Nurse Ratched counts 20 votes by the acutes and the men are content with their decisions. Nurse Ratched, being the sinister women she is, says that they need the majority of the patients to vote and there are 40 total on the ward. Before McMurphy could find one more vote the ballot was closed and the TV privileges were gone. McMurphy, in an act of rage, decides to watch the World Series even though he lost the vote. Nurse Ratched is furious and immediately turns the TV off, but being the man Randle McMurphy is, he pretends that game is still on and ignores his chores and, especially, Nurse Ratched. Shortly, the patients start to join in on McMurphys act of rebellion and Nurse Ratched is infuriated. Watching the gray screen just like we could see the baseball game clear as day, and shes ranting and screaming behind us (Kesey 125). This event that McMurphy conducted revealed that the patients are starting to rebel against Nurse Ratched and follow the ways of the clever yet menacing McMurphy.

What the men really needed to become one step closer to individuality is to experience the outside world and what life is like beyond the ward. McMurphy decides to organize a fishing trip with the patients so they can understand how the real word is. The fishing trip was a success. The men drank, caught fish, and became more confident about themselves. For example: George became more self-assured because he was named captain of the boat by McMurphy, and felt as if he was a leader. They watched us march into the hall, blood-speckled, sunburned, stinking of beer and fish, toting our salmon like we were conquering heroes (Kesey 219). This demonstrates that the patients have gained more confidence because Chief Bromden describes them as conquering heroes. If it werent for McMurphys act of kindness, which was setting up the fishing trip, the patients would have not felt what is like to earn something and be proud of it. McMurphy shows he is a true leader because he teaches the patients how to fish and congratulates them by saying positive comments and not always yelling and scolding the patients because McMurphy did not get his way.

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