Cuckoo Essay

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade May 2001

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Who is the Real main Character? Life in a mental institution is not always what it is cracked up to be. Imagine the treatment of a sickness, being the cause of the sickness. In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey, Bromden, a.k.a. Chief Broom, is a patient in a mental institution, which he refers to as the Combine. Bromden shares his experiences as a patient in the Combine from his perspective, which sometimes can be a little Cuckoo. From my point of view, Bromden is the main character of the story. All the encounters inside the Combine are described from his point of view. Because he is the narrator, there is an automatic bias and flavor that only he can give to the story, because of this, the story revolves around him. Many would argue McMurphy to be the main character, but because the story is told from Bromden's point of view it will never have the same thought process and perception that Bromden has.

"Here's the Chief, the soo-pah Chief, fellas. Ol' Chief Broom. Here you go, Chief Broom"¦" (9) This is showing that he is the narrator and is stating how he views his surroundings. "Stick a mop in my hand and motion to the spot they aim for me to clean today, and I go." (9) This shows his position in life and how he deals with his situation and job. "Haw, you look at "˜im shag it? Big enough to eat apples off my head an' he mind me like a baby." (9) It is funny how Bromden could easily tear the black boys apart but does whatever they say. It is more important to him to have them think he is deaf and dumb, and for them to treat him like a baby then for them to think of him otherwise.

Bromden was stuck in his, so-called, "fog". The fog to him is losing sanity. The thicker the fog the more insane. At first, the fog comforted Bromden, but as the fog gradually got lighter, and finally disappeared he began to enjoy being without it.

"I was seeing lots of things different. I figured the fog machine had broke down in the halls when they turned it up too high for that meeting on Friday, so now they weren't able to circulate fog and gas and foul up the way things looked. For the first time in years, I was seeing people with none of that black outline they used to have, and one night I was even able to see out the windows." (140,141) This reveals that Bromden is the main character because he is the one making the realizations of his surroundings and his thoughts and feelings are the ones being expressed.

"I moved to pick up the pillow, and the eyes fastened on the movement and, followed me as I stood up and crossed the few feet between the beds.

The big, hard body had a tough grip on life. I fought a long time against having it taken away, flailing and thrashing around so much I finally had to lie full length on top of it and scissor the kicking legs with mine while I mashed the pillow into the face. I lay there on top of the body for what seemed days. Until the thrashing stopped. Until it was still a while and had shuddered once and was still again. Then I rolled off. I lifted the pillow, and in the moonlight I saw the expression hadn't changed from the blank, dead-end look the least bit, even under suffocation. I took my thumbs and pushed the lids down and held them till they stayed. Then I lay back on my bed." (270,271) This is one of the most important events in the story. Bromden kills McMurphy to set him free from being a vegetable, which serves as an act of mercy. Because Bromden causes the most important event, he is the most important character in the novel.

Despite popular ideas, McMurphy is not the most important character in the novel. Bromden has the most effect and achieves the greatest gains of any other character. Bromden achieves other understandings that no other achieves. His fog is lifted in the end and he is free from the Combine that held him captive for so long. "Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last!" (M.L.K.)