One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Nobody's Hero: The Problematic Status of McMurphy 10th Grade

“A hero such as Mac [McMurphy] needs to be perceived as a hero; and as our eyes and ears in the novel, the conventionally mute Chief Bromden becomes the expression of McMurphy's greatness” (Klinkowitz).

Chief Bromden, as an observant narrator, possesses the eyes and ears that lead readers through the 1960’s American Mental institution in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Bromden unreliably narrates McMurphy’s confident entry into the ward. McMurphy’s tenacity leads people to different opinions regarding his character. Klinkowitz argues that Bromden’s biased perspective makes McMurphy appear heroic; and Kesey uses Bromden’s narration to portray McMurphy as a beneficial leader. However, McMurphy abuses his heroic qualities to take advantage of the other patients, upsets the social dynamic in the ward, and manipulates the patients driving them to dangerous situations. Randal Patrick McMurphy’s presence in the ward leads the patients towards their own demise rather than their freedom, contradicting Kesey’s thesis that McMurphy is a hero within the ward.

McMurphy mocks the unstable patients in the ward, takes advantage of their trust in him, and tricks them into placing unfair bets. For instance, Bromden observes the...

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