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An imposing, red-headed Irishman, R.P. McMurphy enters the institution with a history of hostility, disobedience, and a recent conviction for statutory rape. Still, it is obvious from the start that he is a sane man who simply chose to accept institutionalization rather than live on a "work farm" as part of the judge's sentence. McMurphy is charismatic, sexual, and boisterous to the extreme--a "gambling fool" who looks out primarily for his own self-interest and matches wits with Nurse Ratched in the book's primary conflict. He also seems to care deeply about his fellow inmates, often putting justice and their well-being over his own desires to escape the institution--which inevitably costs him his sanity. McMurphy represents freedom and self-determination versus societal repression--a battle McMurphy ultimately loses in order to pave the way for the rest of the patients to see the light. In many ways, he becomes a sacrificial lamb for the sake of enlightenment and awakening, both within the novel and for readers. McMurphy's character is remembered as a martyr who inspires real-world social change.