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Bromden and his Changing Mind
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Thesis: In One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kesey, Chief Bromden is a character who has to work his way back to being and acting like a real human after so many years of being “dehumanized” (Porter 49) into a machine created by the evil Nurse Ratched.
I. Bromden in the beginning A. Dehumanized by Nurse Ratched 1. structured 2. forbids laughing 3. controlling B. The effect that the Nurse and the ward has on Bromden 1. could not smell 2. thinks of himself as little 3. hides in the fog 4. fears everything 5. sees himself as comic 6. hallucinates II. Bromden in progress A. Gives up deaf and dumb B. Great turn - around C. Begins to smell things D. Regains his laugh E. Loosens up III. Bromden at the end A. Bromden escapes B. Bromden is a hero C. McMurphy is death; Bromden strength D. Bromden becomes big IV. Conclusion A. Modern world; machines destroy B. Nurse Ratched the machine C. Modern world is the combine
Bromden and his Changing Mind In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, Chief Bromden is a character who has to work his way back to being and acting like a real human after so many years of being “dehumanized” (Porter 49) into a machine created by the evil Nurse Ratched. Bromden begins to change as soon as McMurphy tries to get the guys on the ward to open up and Bromden is the one who gets the most out of Mr. McMurphy’s “therapy” (97). Chief Bromden finally beats the evil nurse Miss Ratched by escaping from the institution. So “Broken men - however frightened, beleaguered, splintered, and dehumanized - can be restored to manhood and wholeness” (95). A six foot seven inch Indian named Chief Bromden pretense to be a deaf mute after he watched his father, Chief Tee Ah Millatoona, get ruined by his white wife. Government agents often came to visit his father about his property. The agents would walk right past Bromden like he was not even there. When people stopped reacting to Bromden, he stopped reacting to the people. At the Combine which was the name for the ward, Bromden underwent treatment for his medical condition. The Combine split the patients into two categories, the Acutes and the Chronics. The Acutes were the patients that had the ability to getting better while the Chronics had no chance of getting better because of how serious their medical condition is. In the Combine everybody definitely considers Bromden as a Chronic. While in there and everybody thinking he is a deaf mute, Bromden hear’s information from other peoples conversations that he is not suppose to hear. Throughout the novel Chief Bromden feels small and he is very easily intimidated. Without the help of the newest guy on the ward, Randel Patrick McMurphy, he would of never been able to gain up enough strength to feel good about himself again and escape the ward like he did in the end of the novel. McMurphy helps Bromden tremendously plus everybody else that is on the ward. He guides everybody to be human. McMurphy says Miss Ratched, the Nurse of the Combine, gains her power by making others feel like they have less. She controls everything they do from when they wake up to when they go to bed. McMurphy rebels against Miss Ratched and tries to get the guys on the ward to stand up for themselves too. The patients on the ward are not aloud to laugh loosely according to Miss Ratched. McMurphy says when a man loses his ability to laugh he is not a man anymore. Most of the patients on the ward are dehumanized by Nurse Ratched controlling and orderly attitude. In the novel Bromden shows the most change from McMurphy’s help. Enough change to come back after escaping and retell the story. In the beginning of the novel Bromden was at the point where he was completely dehumanized by Nurse Ratched. Miss. Ratched was the main cause of his dehumanization, but not the start of it. It began is his early childhood with the conflict between his father, the Indian chief, and his white mother that had control over his father. As it says in the Discovering Authors Modules: “Mrs. Bromden was a domineering women who cared little for her husband’s Indian heritage and was instrumental in selling his land to the government.”. Miss Ratched is in a way just like Bromden’s mother. The way his mother wore down his father by making him feel small and little is the same thing Nurse Ratched is doing to Bromden while on the ward (Wallace 8). After Bromden’s father was dehumanized by his wife it is Bromden’s turn, assuming from Discovering Authors Modules that this “novel is a fictionalized account of his childhood experience” (8). If the story Bromden told us about his early childhood background is true and sit is parrallel to the plot of the novel then we can assume that Bromden is going to get dehumanized by Nurse Ratched. So this is how Bromden starts out the novel, dehumanized and feeling smaller and weaker. While Bromden is feeling dehumanized and small Miss Ratched has the ward well structured and running smooth. She has everything running on time and if something is out of place she will fix it right away because to her there is no such thing as unorganized (Kesey 26). As Porter points out, since Miss Ratched is an ex-army nurse she is used to the high demands on order. Her life was always structured and she expects everybody and everything else to be the same way (48). With structure there comes control, because structure is highly unlikely to exist without some sort of control. If there was no control over the patients on the ward then there definitely would be no structure because that is what the patients are there for, a little structure in their lives. Throughout the beginning of the novel Bromden was always complaining that Nurse Ratched has too much control over things. For example, in the novel, Bromden says Nurse Ratched can speed up time or slow down time depending what she wanted to do (Kesey 73). He also says that she is controlling a fog machine when she sits behind the window at her control panel and sometimes it could last hours on end (75). So with all the control she has over the ward the patients really feel pressured to do what ever she says. The one thing that Nurse Ratched has control of that really hurts the Combine is laughter. As Porter says, everybody sees Miss Ratched as a machine and not as a human. They think she is dehumanized herself along with them. To Bromden the tip of each “finger was the same color as her lips. Funny orange. Like the tip of a sodering iron” (Kesey 4) (49). Bromden and all the other patients on the ward are not thought of as human beings. Miss Ratched thinks of them as just objects or pieces of machinery, so she treated them like pieces of machinery. With structure and control a playing a big part in the daily lives of the men on the ward, Miss Ratched does not see how the pressure of her control and wanting a structured environment had an negative mental effect on the patients. Bromden does not have that free laugh. As with McMurphy, Bromden’s “therapist” he had a laugh with no resistance. Porter says, “The inability to laugh therefore is a gauge of the combine’s pressure ...” (97). The patients on the ward never just laugh loosely because they feel the pressure of Nurse Ratched when she is sitting behind the glass window of her office looking at them. With the resistance to laugh Bromden also could not smell the usual things that normal men can smell. All that he could smell was the oil from the machines and the heated machinery (Porter 30). He could not only smell the machines, he often hallucinated allot about them also. Sometimes he would see machines in his room at night when everybody else was asleep. The chief is a “comic character” who literally sees “microphones in the broom handles, wires in the walls, and pernicious devices in the electric shavers” (Wallace 8). Bromden at this point is not human. Leeds says “the Combine, committed as it is to the supremacy of technology over humanity, extends its influence by dehumanizing men and making them machines” (20). The pressure from Nurse Ratched dehumanized Bromden to where now he begins to see and smell things that a normal human being would not. The final effect that Miss Ratched has on Bromden is his fear of everything. Kesey tries to get the reader to notice real quick that they are dealing with a scared and intimidated character. He also wants to produces the impression of a mind that works oddly Kesey opens up the novel with Bromden saying “They’re out there” (3). All these problems that Bromden has comes from Miss Ratched. If she was not so structured and hung up on control Bromden would not be this weak and dehumanized. In order for Bromden to gain his strength back from Nurse Ratched’s dehumanization, he has to overcome her control. One way to break
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