"If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law." - Henry David Thoreau .
In "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," by Ken Kesey, the protagonist, Randle Patrick McMurphy arrives at the hospital, his admittance does not symbolize a surrender to conformity. Throughout the novel, one reads of McMurphy's fight to conquer the psychiatric ward. In doing so, he strengthens the timid and meek patients around him. As McMurphy demands justice and struggles to gain back his individuality, the Big Nurse seeks to kill his confidence and his hope. The battle between the wicked Nurse Ratched and the heroic McMurphy cannot be measured in arguments won or lost, but in the lives changed. McMurphy's influential teachings, demonstrated through the reformed patients at the end of the novel, emphasize his win between individuality and conformity and the importance of freedom within society.
After witnessing the harsh punishments and absurdity that occurs at the ward, McMurphy changes his objective and challenges the authority of the staff in order to help his fellow patients. This immediate change of character disrupts Nurse Ratched's peace, resulting in the constant fight for power. Patients at the ward view McMurphy as a savior, which many readers connect to Jesus Christ. McMurphy teaches the Acutes to embrace their rights and question the staff's decisions. By doing so, McMurphy threatens Nurse Ratched's position in the combine. One reads of McMurphy testing his limits when he participates in group therapy. The battle involves sarcastic banter, but later escalates to violence. McMurphy may not have the final say, making it appear as if Nurse Ratched wins, but the example he sets for the other patients changes the way the ward works. Changing the mindset of the Acutes causes a halt to the "machinery". .
Ultimately, the restoration of the mental and physical freedom of the men lies within McMurphy.