Analysis Of Chief Bromden In One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

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In Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, protagonist Chief Bromden narrates his experience as a patient in a mental ward in which the patients are oppressed and mistreated by the attending staff. Bromden recounts his past that has traumatized him to his current state of being. To remain aloof from the punishments that the staff inflicts on the other patients, Bromden acts innocuous and deaf. The ward remains under the iron fist of the head nurse, Nurse Ratched, until a new, rambunctious patient, R. P. McMurphy, alters the power structure of the ward through actions of defiance. This change causes Chief Bromden to regain confidence in his ability to make his own decisions, and to recognize his size and strength. However, after McMurphy is given a lobotomy to control his rebellious behavior, Bromden determines to free McMurphy from his suffering by ending McMurphy’s life. Although some may consider Chief Bromden a murderer in Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, …show more content…
In collusion with McMurphy, Bromden fights against the black orderlies, whom he had once obeyed without question because of mistreatment of the ward patients with their humiliating cleansing-“...lined up nude against the tile... squirting a stinking salve thick and sticky as egg white” on patients who went on the fishing trip (233). Most crucially, however, in his dreaded meeting of the electroshock therapy, he confronts his repressed memories and realizes his ability to alter them, signifying his emancipated ability to make his own choices. He portrays this conviction upon regaining consciousness: “It’s fogging a little, but I won’t slip off and hide in it. No...never again… I had them beat” (248-249). Herald a hero and gleaming like a beacon of light, Bromden returns to the ward anew: “I walked to our day room… everybody’s face turned up to me with a different look they’d ever given me before”

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