Society Silences Voices Essay

Submitted By oliviaschmitt17
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Society Silences Voices

Ken Kesey uses Chief’s flashbacks in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to demonstrate how society can silence the voices of people by making them feel inferior. For as long as Chief can remember he was silenced by people around him, making him feel like he was ineffectual in society. Chief recalls a time early in his life when those around him shut his voice down when he was too outspoken or tried to give his opinion. Because of this, Chief Bromden felt inferior to society and he coped with this by the only way he knew how, which was staying silent, “...it was people that first started acting like I was too dumb to hear or see or say anything at all...and even as far back as grade school I can remember people saying that they didn’t think that I was listening, so they quit listening to the things I was saying” (Kesey 210). Chief has recurring flashbacks throughout the novel ruminating times in his childhood that had a severe impact on him and his development as a person. Chief conformed to society by being silenced because he was taught at such a young age that his thoughts did not matter. Kesey proves that when one’s opinion does not fit in with society’s “norms,” they are plagued as being ornery, and unable to function in daily life. Chief was deemed different to this society, causing people to think he was dumb and deaf and leading him to believe that he was not fit to function with everyone else. Not only was Chief silenced by his peers, but also by a higher power--the government, forcing him to feel even more inferior to society. Chief grew up on the Reservation being able to roam the country and express himself through the beautiful nature that surrounded him. The freedom he felt from his life centered around nature was quickly taken away from by the imperious land developers, “I stand up and tell the fat man, in my very best schoolbook language, that our sod house is likely to be cooler than any one of those houses in town...they aren’t even looking at me...Not a one of the three acts like they heard a thing I said; in fact they’re all looking off from me like they’d as soon I wasn’t there at all” (213). This is another instance where Chief is silenced by people who felt superior to his thoughts and feelings as an individual. Chief tried to speak up on behalf of his Reservation, family, and himself, and was so quickly and harshly looked over, stunting his confidence and ability to speak up for himself later on in his…