Nest Every person has a right to a different way of mental processes, a right to express their beliefs in ways they believe is morally and ethically right; however, we see in novel, “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Keyes, that the patients of the mental ward are stripped of their rights and beliefs and labeled as outcast and troublemaker. Keyes tells the story about how individuals who were locked up in an asylum because they were different, grow and conquer the authoritarian figure, Nurse Ratchet, through the eyes and ears of the narrator, Chief Broaden.
Chief Broaden, or “Chief Broom”, is the son of Chief Tee Ah Immolation, which means “the pine that stands the tallest on the mountain, and a white woman named Mary Louise Broaden. In the beginning of the novel, we see Chief Broaden as weak, paranoid, bullied, and constantly hallucinating through his words and thoughts. However, through the actions and defiance of McCarthy, we see him recover and grow into a confident individual who no longer bends under Nurse Ratchet’s control.
From the very beginning of the book, we can see that Chief Broaden is paranoid y fear of being seen by the three angry black aides of Nurse Ratchet: “When they hate like this, better if they don’t see me. ” This leads us to see that the narrator is very keen on his surroundings and that he instinctively shrinks in fear to make himself unnoticeable, which is quite unlikely, thanks to his six feet seven height. Chief Broaden is often surrounded by a hallucinating fog which is a result from his medicated state and his desire to hide from those who control him.
Moreover, we see that Chief Broaden is the key to helping us understand the symbols of the metal capital through his descriptions of the oppressed and the oppressors, in and out of his medicated state. For example, he notices that there is a higher power above Nurse Ratchet, which symbolizes society, whom he calls the “Combine”. When he speaks to McCarthy for the very first time, he says “they (the Combine) start as quick as they see you’re goanna be big and go to working and installing their filthy machinery when you’re little, and keep on and one and on till you’re fixed! This shows that he believes that the Combine is like a big machine and while everyone is part of that machine, those in the mental ward are the broken pieces that are either thrown away or sent to be fixed. This shows that Chief Broaden is actually one of the most dangerous patience in the ward because he has the ability to be “cagey’ and understand the bigger picture of the control that society has on the different and oppressed. As the novel progresses, the hallucinating fog begins to lift off of Chief Broaden and he begins to understand that he is “way too little” mainly because he believes himself to be.
He grows in confidence through McCarthy and even risks his own fatty and the secret of him not being deaf and mute by protecting and supporting McCarthy multiple times. After realizing that he is not a helpless, weak victim, he begins to “grow taller” and larger and when Murphy begins to fight with the black aides, he picks the one hanging on McCarthy back and “[throws] him in the shower” (275). We see that as he grows in confidence, his strength that was once stripped from him, returns and the black aid who once caused him to shrink in fear, is only a being “full of tubes” because he “didn’t weight Moreno ten or fifteen pounds”(275).
Chief Broaden was a paranoid, bullied and heavily medicated patient of the mental ward who was stripped of his confidence, sanity and his very being until the arrival of McCarthy. His Journey towards sanity, his actions and thoughts all lead us to believe that the strongest of them all was not McCarthy but Chief Broaden. He believed he was weak but when he began to realize the unreasonable control that Nurse Ratchet imposed upon the patients; he began to regain his inner and outer strength until he was able to overcome the control of the “Combine”, save McCarthy from a devastating future and escape from the mental ward.
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