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The imagination is the readers most important tool on the path to enjoying a good book. One can only hinder their enjoyment of the story by disregarding the vivid images created by the mind. Nothing can compare to a landscape so exquisite that it would make a cinematographer jealous, or a prison so cold that you can see the inmates hot breath. However, some authors offer help for those who are creatively impaired. In One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, the author, Ken Kesey builds such an effective tone, that the shifts in the attitudes of the characters can be detected. In the first half of the novel, Kesey uses a wonderful device to show oppression that makes the reader feel as if they themselves are going insane. Bromden describes it best.
Shes got the fog machine switched onand the more I think about how nothing can be helped, the faster the fog rolls in, (Kesey 101). This fog is not literally there, but instead appears when Kesey wants to create an atmosphere that is disparaging. This dark tone is also emphasized through Bromdens nightmares. In one of the dreams, the hospital turns into a hot industrial factory where the noise of cold, hard, unyielding machinery is almost deafening, (78-82). During the dream, one of the old Chronics, Blastic, is Hung on a hook and sent away into the machines. The strange thing is that he actually does die. Bromdens dream is actually a metaphor for the quick disposal of those who do not survive the nurses treatment.
It is as if she does not want any evidence that her patients are not recovering. So, the effect the reader is left with is one representative of how unceremoniously a death is dealt with in the hospital. Death and despair also come in the form of shock treatments. A patient was usually given a quick, yet mind-blowing zap for unruly behavior. When Bromden observes the outburst of another chronic, he actually thinks that the guy finally just snapped, and is throwing a fit so theyll give him a fatal shock treatment. While this guy is going out of his mind and attacking the guards, Bromden thinks, What makes people so impatient is what I cant figure; all the guy had to do was wait, (115). Bromden sees that the ward and the nurse herself will kill him in time. So, he looks upon this behavior with disapproval..
Through Bromdens hazy attitude, Kesey makes the reader feel the dark cloud of frustration and despair that hangs over the ward. Fortunately, this doesnt last too long, for a whole new tone is taken on when McMurphy pledges that he will stop at nothing to crush the nurses tyranny. First, it is a tone that often accompanies a heated battle, and it is displayed at its height when McMurphy and Miss Ratched face off at the meetings. Almost like a prizefight, the nurse and McMurphy square off while the other patients look on starry-eyed. Of course, the entire audience is rooting for McMurphy. This strained sparring comes to a head when McMurphy holds vote to change the daily schedule in order to watch the World Series.
The meeting starts out in the deepest fog to date, but it begins to dissipate for good. Bromden describes McMurphys triumph; And then off down the slope I see them, other hands coming up out of the fog. Its likethat big red hand of McMurphys is reaching into the fog and dropping down and dragging the men up by their hands, dragging them blinking into the open, (124). When Bromden himself raises his hand, and breaks the barrier that his false deafness has put on, the tone is completely changed. He may still play deaf for awhile, but the fact that he thinks about playing deaf and acknowledges that he must keep up the faade, shows that he and the tone have changed. After this, Kesey puts an almost nostalgic tone on the story.
The Acutes, Bromden, and the doctor go on an antic filled fishing trip that makes the group seem as if they did this every weekend, and that insanity had never crossed their minds. On the car ride back, Bromden says of McMurphy, His relaxed, good-natured voice dolled out his life for us to live, a rollicking pastfor all of us to dream ourselves into, (218). The men see that they can change and finally go back out into the world that they had been so afraid of. When McMurphy dies at the end, Kesey does not allow his characters to mourn or forget all that they have learned. Instead the story keeps a positive attitude because Kesey is trying to communicate to the reader that life will go on. So, why does Kesey turn a wonderful exploration into the dank side of the human psyche into a light romp that tries to mask the deeper issues at hand? He does this because it is the inherent behavior of humans to mask their apprehensions, especially of impending doom. Everyone, including the reader knows that McMurphy cannot succeed. Kesey hints at it many times. However, it is natural to pretend that it will all turn out for the best.
This is what Kesey truly explores through his tone, among other things, in this novel. What is reality? The novel One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, written by Ken Kesey, explores living in a mental institution through the mind of a patient. As the reader begins the novel, they would naturally think that a patient found in a mental hospital would be insane. As Kesey introduces you to the patients, and you see the institution in their eyes, you believe that they are really normal people, and society is insane. The main character, Chief Bromden is a half Indian man, who is considered schizophrenic. Randall McMurray, the newest patient in the ward, causes many difficult situations for the Nurse. Nurse Ratched is the authority figure for the patients and likes everything to be run her way.
A man who is known as Chief Bromden, the main character, starts as seeming to be a shy, weak man. This is shown in the first chapter on page three, when a caretaker of the institution talks of him while he is present, "Big enough to eat apples off my head an' he mine me like a baby." Chief Bromden is in the hospital because he is schizophrenic, and is considered deaf and dumb, because he never talks or acknowledges people. At the end of the novel, McMurray becomes a vegetable because of all of the shock treatments he had received. Bromden displays that he is caring by smothering him with a pillow, because he knows that McMurray would not want to live like that. One of the reasons that people find him shy is that he would much rather be quiet, and observe his surroundings. Page 26-27 (Bromden thinking of Nurse Ratched) "I've watched her get more skillful over the years.
Practice has steadied and strengthened. her until she wields a sure power that extends in all directions on hair-like wires, too small for anybody's eye but mine; I see her sit in the center of this web of wires like a watchful robot, tend her network with mechanical skill, know every second which wire runs where and just what current to send up to get the results she wants" Chief Bromden is the smartest, most caring and gentle man in this novel. He is the kind of guy that many people would like to know, and associate themselves with. The Chief stands out from the rest of the men of the ward. Physically, he stands out by being half Indian, with long, black oily hair. Also, he is a very large man, standing 6'7" and having a very muscular build, from playing football when he was a teenager. He stands out mentally by being a "chronic." "Across the room are the culls of the Combine's product - the chromic.
Not in the hospital, these, to get fixed, but just to keep them from walking around the streets giving the product a bad name. Chronics are in for good, the staff concedes. Chronics are divided into Walkers, like me, and the Wheelers. What the chronic are, are machines with flaws inside The Chief thinks of the outside world to be a "Combine," which is used throughout the novel. The chief is very different from the men living in the hospital alongside him. Randle Patrick McMurray is the newest addition to the ward. He is compared with two people throughout the novel.
His physical traits are compared with that of Paul Bunyan's. McMurray is red headed, has long red side burns and curly hair. He has a broad chest and jaw and has a distinct red scar that runs along his nose and cheekbone. Another prominent feature of his, is a tattoo on his left hand of an anchor. McMurray's large, beat-up hands and tanned body are a result of many years working on a farm, P. 12, "His face and neck and arms are the color of ox blood leather." He is the most recent addition to the ward, and one of the reasons he was placed there was because he is obsessed with sex and committed statutory rape with a 15-year-old girl.
The second person they compare McMurray to is Christ. He goes through a kind of crucifixion when he begins a series of electric shock treatments. When the attendant places salve on his temples, McMurray says, P 270, "Anointest my head with conductant. Do I get a crown of thorns?" Randall McMurray's role is obvious in the world, described to be a cross between Paul Bunyan and Christ. McMurray's personality is very rejuvenating to the ward. Before he arrived, the men th ....
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