One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: PowerPeoples’ ability to use power to control and manipulate situations andpeople is a skill not many people have. Unfortunately this skill can lead toconflict as it did in Ken Kesely’s novel One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest whenMcMurphy and Nurse Ratched meet each other.McMurphy has been after Nurse Ratched’s power right from the beginning.After the first group meeting he pointed out that the meeting was like a”pecking party”. The Nurse starts it with pointing out something wrong withsomeone and then the men join in with their criticism.
Her book was the sameidea. The men would listen to each other and when one said something that theyshouldn’t have they write it down so it can be brought up for “therapeuticreasons”, but when McMurphy came all that changed. That made the nurse furious,that was her way of keeping perfect control and power over the patients.McMurphy had complete power over the patients from when he first came in.Nobody like him had ever been in the ward before. He came in singing andlaughing, something that no one had heard in a long time. He walked around theroom shaking hands, introducing himself to everyone, even the chronics.
Hetaught the acutes how to play cards and he taught them to gamble. His veryfirst bet though was that he could get the best of nurse Ratched within the week,and he did. She wasn’t going to back down though. To try and stop all thegambling going on she rationed the cigarettes, so they no longer had anything tobet, but that never stopped them, they used money instead.The patients admired McMurphy because no one had ever stood up to herbefore, and he would do things for them such as arranging basketball games.
Hewas also the one who enabled the patients to use the tub room for card games,and so they could get away from that horrifying music that the nurse alwaysplayed. The tub room is also significant in the power struggle because it wasthe doctor who helped McMurphy obtain it. The Dr. was the one who came up withall the solutions for the problems that the nurse would bring up to try and stopthe men from using it. McMurphy and the Doctor even went to the same highschool and the nurse caught them reminiscing about old times, laughing, yellingand having a great time.The doctor, the one who is suppose to help the nurse, helped McMurphy intaking the men on a fishing trip that the nurse clearly didn’t approve of.
Shedid her best to try and persuade the men to stay. She cut out articles ofpeople dying, crashing in ship wrecks and how terrible the weather was and putthem on the bulletin board to scare the men so they wouldn’t go. It almostworked.
McMurphy needed one more person, after he signed up the Chief he made adeal with George that if he came he could be captain of the ship, so George came.But then McMurphy had two girls that were suppose to come with cars, but onlyone showed up. The nurse thought that she had won, and she had, until thedoctor offered his car and services if he could come to even when the nurse toldhim not to.The nurse did have her two moments of glory. She points out to the menthat McMurphy always seems to get something out of doing things for the men. Hegot money and most of their cigarettes from gambling, and he was even making aprofit from taking them on the fishing trip. That makes all of them stop andthink. But as Harding says, they don’t mind him getting some money, it is worthit for them.
But they do mind. Her second moment is when McMurphy realizes thathe is one of the only people committed and he gives up.McMurphy does do stupid, little things to keep the power such as,punching through the glass twice, and breaking it again with the basketball. Hemakes comments to her about her breasts, and he rips her front open as a finalvictory and to show the others her feminine side.Towards the end though he does things for others instead of himself.
Hearranged for Candy to come for Billy, although the consequences weren’t good theintentions were. He got the Chief to realize that he was a huge man and that hewas capable of doing lots of things, even lifting the control panel.And mostimportantly he helps George out in the shower when the black boys were trying toscrub him down, which leads to severe punishment from Nurse Ratched.He got the men to stand up for themselves and each other. He got themdoing things they may have never done in their whole life, and they loved himfor that.
If it wasn’t for McMurphy I believe that they would have stayed inthat hospital maybe until they died, because all the nurse seemed to do wasbring down their self-esteem, probably to make herself look better and feelbetter. English