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The Ward as a Symbol

             It is clear that Ken Kesey wasn't happy with American society around the time that he wrote One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. He saw the way that some people were treated in the world, and he felt that they should stick up for themselves. In the book, he uses a mental institution and its patients to represent society. Through events in the story, he condemns and challenges society. In large part through the character R. P. McMurphy, Kesey attacks conformity and how society strips people of individuality, he denounces society's suppression of desires, and he also challenges the people to break themselves free.
             Kesey sees society as oppressive and as a force, which strips people of their individuality. Life in the ward clearly reflects this view. The patients, instead of being helped, are mistreated and driven into submissiveness. The Nurse has no real intention of helping them. She would rather just keep them on the ward and maintain the control she has over them. Also, the patients are shocked when McMurphy sings, because they aren't used to anybody attempting to bring happiness to the mental hospital. They are afraid to react to his singing, because they know it is not acceptable. Another example is that the Chief has been ignored and presumed stupid for so long, he doesn't even attempt to speak anymore. He sees the way his kind are treated on the ward, so he thought it would be less painful to just basically not exist than to go through the tortures that the others had to endure. He made his own self-conscious decision to strip his own individuality, but you can be sure that if he didn't, Nurse Ratched would have. .
             "So she really lets herself go and her painted smile twists, stretches to an open snarl, and she blows up bigger and bigger, big as a tractor, so big I can smell the machinery inside the way you smell a motor pulling too big a load- (pg. 5). .
             Ratched represents domineering society.

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