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Book Analysis

How Does Chief Bromden Change As The Novel Progresses? - Shreya Sachdev

Chief Bromden appears to be an interesting character throughout the whole story of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. At first, the audience is introduced to him as somebody who is quite clever. Despite the fact that the other patients view him as somebody who is deaf and dumb, and bully him to the point where his feelings become completely insignificant, he still realizes that the advantage to being deaf and dumb is that he gets to hear everybody's secrets in the ward. 

The audience learns from very early on in the novel that Chief Bromden appears to possibly have heavy hallucinations whenever Nurse Ratched speaks. Chief Bromden states that that he sees fog whenever Nurse Rached speaks and begins to emasculate the patients. He also admits that he remains behind the fog as he feels comfortable and safe behind it as standing up to Nurse Ratched would be too big of a step for him. 

Things clearly begin to change the moment Randle McMurphy enters the ward. When Randle McMurphy enters the ward, he begins to question Nurse Ratched as a caring and loving nurse but rather begins to see her manipulative ways of staying in power. Chief Bromden states that ever since McMurphy has stepped inside the asylum, the fog machine hasn't been turned on. The fog machine is clearly an escape from reality and a way for Chief Bromden to hide behind his real life. However, McMurphy wants the patients to see Nurse Ratched for who she really is and he does this by questioning Nurse Ratched and testing her. 

The first instance in which the audience truly begins to see Chief Bromden change is when all the patients in the ward play basketball together. Chief Bromden is hesitant to get involved in the game but with McMurphy's support, Chief Bromden joins in and ends up being a superstar in the game due to how tall he is. 

The second instance in which the audience truly begins to see Chief Bromden change is when McMurphy demands for himself and the patients to be able to see the World Series. The patients need one more vote in order for Nurse Ratched to allow them to watch the World Series. Chief Bromden clearly wants the timetable to change and wants the patients to have more freedom in the ward and thus raises his hand. This is the first proper interaction the Chief has with the rest of the group. 

The third instance in which the audience sees Chief Bromden change is when Randle McMurphy and one of the black assistants get into a fight at the ward. Randle McMurphy and one of the assistants begin to beat each other up, but Chief Bromden steps in to McMurphy's aid and brutally beats the assistant up. Unfortunately, the consequences of this event is that both McMurphy and Chief Bromden have to suffer through electoshock therapy. 

The fourth instance in which the audience sees Chief Bromden change is during the fishing trip. This fishing trip clearly has a large impact on Chief Bromden as Chief Bromden is recorded saying that this was the first time that he truly felt as if he was a human being and not a crazy person in the cuckoo's nest. 

The fifth and last instance in which the audience sees Chief Bromden change is when McMurphy sadly dies. McMurphy had a large impact on Chief Bromden and Chief Bromden frees himself by lifting up the control panel that McMurphy was unable to do, breaks the window with it and finally runs away. This is clearly a symbol of how much McMurphy was able to impact Chief Bromden and Chief Bromden's new personality and how he realizes that he is finally a human being that deserves to be treated with respect. 

Shreya Sachdev