Masculinity In Ken Kesey's One Flew Over Her Nest

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One Flew Over Her Nest It is a man’s world and the woman 's place is in the house. This popular misconception has plagued American society since the time of the founding fathers. It was believed that the man was expected to be the master, the leader, or the commander in chief, while the woman is supposed to be passive and subservient. Women did not have the right to dictate how they used their money, how they dressed in public, and how they behaved in the presence of men. For a long time, American society suppressed women with these conformations. It was not until the late-1970s that women were allowed to freely express themselves. However, the normal convention of omniscient male dominance is absent in author Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the …show more content…
At the asylum Nurse Ratched created the oppressive environment; she was the judge, the jury, and executioner. She had total control over the men’s lives. In many ways she did not allow the men to attain their basic necessities, which eventually led to the diminishing of their masculinity. The men were unable to assert their virility; when Dale Harding assigns animals to the people around him, he was compelled to call Nurse Ratched a wolf and the men rabbits (Leach). One of the ways Nurse Ratched generated her power was by using her large body proportions and her feminine beauty. Nurse Ratched embodied the American machismo’s worst fear, a strong woman who is unattractive to them (Darbyshire 199). She would use her beauty to manipulate the men into following her every command. Nurse Ratched would also use her alluring body to beguile the men. For example, her ample breasts gave a misleading symbolic representation of both nurturance and sexuality, which she fails to deliver on both counts to the men (Darbyshire 199). Nurses are supposed to kind and affectionate, but Nurse Ratched refuses to nurture the men in the ward (Darbyshire 199). To expand the extent of her power, Nurse Ratched takes away the traditions and customs that allow a man to become a man (Darbyshire 201). For example, she prevents the men at the ward from smoking, drinking, sexual exploits and watching …show more content…
The Chief can not regain his masculinity because of his privileged oppressive white mother (Waxler 225). Mrs. Bromden exploited her husband minority status as a Native American. For example, when she married her husband she refused his name and kept Bromden (Alvarado 357). As a result, throughout the novel the Chief believes that it is not the name of the father, but the name of the mother, that represents the ruling symbolic order (Waxler 228). Throughout the Chief 's childhood his mother a dominating figure while his father becomes “the Other” (Waxler 228). For example, when the Chief recalls his childhood for McMurphy, he says, “My Papa was a full Chief and his name was Tee Ah Millatoona...He was big when I was a kid. My mother got twice his size” (Kesey 186 as quoted by Waxler). This shows that the Chief’s mother continued to gain power as he grew up. Subsequently, the Chief was not able to achieve manhood as an adult, as a result of the inferiority of his paternal

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