Analysis Of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest By Ken Kesey

Words: 1267
Pages: 6

Humans are the products of society, manipulated and fixed to fit the perfect ideals of it. In the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, a schizophrenic narrator tells the story of McMurphy struggling to fight against Nurse Ratched and her authority. The author incorporates the idea of a Combine, a force led by Nurse Ratched controlling the patient's’ behaviors, as well as using descriptions of machinery to represent the Big Nurse and the hospital. Ken Kesey uses the Combine and machinery imagery to depict society and how society abuses their authority to deprive citizens of their freedom.
The machine and combine in Chief Bromden’s mind is a portrayal of society and how they handle their power to strip away the people’s individuality.
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The Chief believes that the ward is changing the patients when he states, “this is what I know. The ward is a factory for the combine. It’s for fixing up mistakes made in the neighborhoods, schools, and churches. When a completed product goes back out in society, it is better than new” (40). Chief uses the phrase “fixing up mistakes” to display how the patients start with problems similar to a broken machine and then getting “fixed” to better fit what is expected of them in the ward. Chief also uses the word “product” to demonstrate how the ward is dehumanizing them as machines by using it. In his mind, the patients are machines that are on the process of fixing to better fit the hospital’s image. Chief Bromden compares the patients of the asylum to machines when he says, “Across the room from the Acutes are the culls of the Combine’s product, the Chronics. Not in the hospital, these, to get fixed, but just to keep them from walking around the streets giving the product a bad name… What the Chronics are—or most of us—are machines with flaws inside that can’t be repaired, flaws born in, or flaws beat in over so many years of the guy running head-on into solid things that by the time the hospital found him he was bleeding rust in some vacant lot” (15-16). When he referred to the …show more content…
When Nurse Ratched was furious at the Orderlies, the Chief illustrates the Nurse’s expression with, “...she blows up bigger and bigger, big as a tractor, so big I can smell the machinery inside the way you smell a motor pulling too big a load” (5). Kesey compares the Nurse to a “tractor” and uses the words “motor” and “load” to better characterize her as a machine, not a human, who controls others around her. The Nurse does not have any humanly characteristics, but instead is seen as something, not someone, as shown in Kesey’s use of machinery terms. In addition, in Chief’s dream of Blastic in a factory, he sees “a shower of rust and ashes, and now and again a piece of wire and glass” (85) when his innards were cut. With the words “wire” and “glass”, Kesey emphasizes that Blastic is now not human with his innards being replaced to wire and glass, which is common inside machines. He uses machine-like terms to present the idea of the Combine turning the patients into robots who will obey their rules without question and turn them into ones that will fit their perfect society. The quote is one out of many examples of machinery in the novel, showcasing the importance of how the world is about social order and structure, led by the ideals of society, even today. The machine metaphors portray humans being deprived of their