One Flew over the Cuckoo's Next: McMurphy's impact on the patients

Essay by adidasguy255High School, 12th gradeA+, April 2003

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A leader has the ability to rally confidence and conviction in his fellow supporters. Leaders are scattered throughout history, influencing changes and leading oppressed masses to freedom. Every movement has its leader, its focal point, the one person that leads by example, serving as a role model in times of difficulty and hardship. In Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Randle Patrick McMurphy is thrust into a leadership role in a psychiatric ward. McMurphy begins to rally support and initiates a change in the daily lives of the other "patients" in the ward, inching away from the previously immovable institutionalized oppression. As Kesey demonstrates the essentiality of a leader to the breaking of oppression, he also shows the dissipation of the patients' confidence and conviction once the leader's active participation has ceased. Kesey's implementation of McMurphy as a leader in the psychiatric ward demonstrates man's inability to initially buck oppression without a leader, emphasizing that the leader is only effective if the followers learn to lead themselves.

The fading of the courage and confidence that McMurphy instills in the psychiatric patients during the fishing trip shows that a leader is necessary to break free from oppression, an oppression that reclaims its victims once the leader stops leading the way. On the way to the open seas, the patients stop at the gas station, where their green uniforms are noticed right away. Along with the recognition of the mental green color comes disrespect and oppression by way of the gas station attendants. McMurphy sticks up for everyone and the patients follow perfectly on cue. There was a new sense of confidence surrounding the patients, and it was because McMurphy had "shown us what a little bravado and courage could accomplish, and we thought he'd taught us how...