To what extent does the writer present the individual as powerless in the face of society in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"?

Essay by ruskipaulHigh School, 11th grade July 2006

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Ken Kesey, the author of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", portrays a lot of powerless people in the face of society in his novel. I will be writing about on a couple, but mainly focusing on William (Billy) Bibbit.

Who was Billy Bibbit? Billy was thirty-one year old man, who was psychologically an adolescent. Ken Kesey, demonstrates Billy's powerlessness, in a couple of places in the text, which will explain the major things that lead to Billy feeling powerless, in the face of society, by the other patients, by Nurse Ratched, and his mother. Also the feeling of powerlessness, leading to the extent of self-inflicted harm, fear, humiliation and even death.

'If we had the g-guts! I could go outside today, if I had the guts. My m-m-mother is a good friend of M-Miss Ratched, and I could get an AMA signed this afternoon, if I had the guts!'

One of the main key points Kesey is trying to show is that most of Billy's powerlessness comes from the extent of his fear.

He is at that point, shouting at Mc Murphy, explaining to him, that because he didn't have the guts, that is why he is committed into the mental hospital as a voluntary patient.

'You think I wuh-wuh-want to stay in here? You think I wouldn't like a con-convertible and a guh-guh-girl friend? But did you ever have people l-l-laughing at you? No, because you're so b-big and tough! Well, I'm not big and tough.'

Here is Billy Bibbit's confession. It is obvious here that the reason for Billy's powerlessness in the face of society is because of his stutter. How he thinks of other people's reaction to him and his speaking disability, how he thinks they would judge him. The fear of...