The day Ken Kesey sat down at his desk and started to write his 6,500,000 copy best-selling novel "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest" he decided to make the narrator, and the central character in the story, a 6'8" tall, paranoid, schizophrenic, native American named Chief Bromden. He pretends to be deaf and dumb, and is cagey enough to fool everyone in the ward. And throughout the novel Chief Bromden keeps talking about a Combine, which seems to have an everspreading effect that can and will eventually reach everyone. But when Ken Kesey was writing the novel he surely didn't intend readers to think of the Combine as a power-operated harvesting machine that cuts, threshes, and cleans grain1. By definition a Combine is some sort of a system or association of people united together for the furtherance of political interests2.
However Kesey must have had something else in mind that he wanted Chief Bromden to convey through the novel.
In doing so Chief Bromden starts to hallucinate about the Combine's presence in different parts of the novel. The first mention of the Combine is made at the beginning of the novel when Chief Bromden called the Black boys that work in the ward as the bastards who work for the Combine, (p12) inferring that the employees are merely parts in a much larger and much more controlling machine. Chief Bromden also introduces Big Nurse as a woman, whom he describes as, carrying a large wicker basket in which she does not carry lipsticks, makeup, or other feminine beauty products. Instead Chief Bromden believes that she uses the bag to carry replacement parts for the Combine.
The Chief goes on to make another mention of the Combine, this time, during the meeting where McMurphy continues to annoy the Big Nurse...