Destroyed but not beaten.
Ernest Hemingway once said, "A man can be destroyed but not defeated." A man can be destroyed in several ways. One way is physically. Even though a man can be physically beaten and killed, his cause and spirit lives on in the hearts and minds of others. Another way a man can be destroyed is mentally. A man can be mentally disturbed and belittled but still fight and work his way out of it. Both ways of the destruction of man are relevant in the characters Chief Bromden and Randall McMurphy in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Even though Chief Bromden and McMurphy are destroyed, neither of them will in fact be beaten.
McMurphy's character in the book is often viewed as heroic. He joins the mental institution and immediately sees the severity of Nurse Ratched's power over the patients. She controls them in all aspects of life and McMurphys notices that its very unfair.
For the majority of the novel, he fights back Ratched's abuse and tends to make the ward a little hectic. His battles against the nurse are all fun and games until he realizes that he can never win the war. One of the patients says to him, "You have more to lose than I do..I'm voluntary. I'm not committed." As this point, McMurphy realizes he is under the control of Nurse Ratched and he is eventually going to be destroyed. Understanding he will never leave the ward, McMurphy decides to teach the patients a few lessons to help them become sane and in turn leave the ward. These lessons will be the reason why he is not beaten. When on their fishing trip, Chief comments on McMurphy's actions. He states, "Because he knows you have to laugh...