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The president of the patients' council and a college graduate, Harding is likely the most educated patient in the institution. He explains many of the workings of the ward to McMurphy. Kesey indicates that Harding may be a closeted homosexual. Harding certainly is dominated by his boisterous wife, who intimidates him with her sexuality and his sexual inadequacy.
This intimidation is certainly repeated in reaction to Nurse Ratched. Harding has good intentions and is extremely intelligent, but he is unable to follow through on what he knows and understands because he consistantly buckles to the Ratched's techniques of intimidation.