One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

In what way does manipulation contribute to each character’s sense of power or powerlessness?

it could show how much it controls one another.

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With the arrival of McMurphy, manipulation is used as a means to broker power. Before his arrival, Nurse Ratched controlled all. Her standard manipulation techniques held the men submissive and complacent to her demands. MCMurphy changed this dynamic to a sort of brokerage of power through manipulation.