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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey - Barron's Booknotes
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The three black daytime aides-Washington, Williams, and
Warren-are examples of the way the Combine turns its victims
into the victimizers of others. Undoubtedly, they've suffered
racial abuse similar to that which Chief Bromden suffered or
worse-in fact, we're told that at age five one of the aides saw
his mother raped by a white man. And they continue to suffer
under Nurse Ratched, who has instilled in them the same kind
of fear she has instilled in her patients.

But far from allying themselves with the Nurse's other victims,
the aides are anxious to take out their hatred on the one group
of people weaker than themselves. They take advantage of
every opportunity they get to assault the patients physically,
sexually, and psychologically. They demonstrate the power of
the Combine at its most brutal. The Nurse is limited in the
kinds of punishment she can personally inflict. She can't
employ physical force herself and she must disguise her
cruelties with smiles and soft words. The aides are under no
such restrictions. They are "out there performing her bidding
before she even thinks of it."


Those patients who, in the staff opinion, have the potential to
be cured. They include Harding, Billy Bibbit, Cheswick, Sefelt
and Fredrickson.


A Chronic patient, permanently damaged at birth, his cries of
"I'm tired" and "it's all a lotta baloney," are the only true words
spoken at the Group Meeting.


Billy Bibbit's domineering mother, she has kept her son from
maturing into manhood, perhaps (her words and wildly dyed
hair suggest) because she is afraid of aging herself. A close
friend of Nurse Ratched, whom in her desire for control she


The captain of the boat McMurphy charters, he refuses to let
the patients go out to sea because they lack proper
authorization papers: another example of the Combine's
devotion to petty rules.


The Chief's mother, a white woman who felt she married
beneath her by marrying an Indian. Another of the book's
domineering women, she forces the Chief's father to take her
name and to sell his tribal village to the government for a dam.
The Chief blames her for making his father "small."


A would-be rebel, he always backed down because he lacked
allies. When McMurphy arrives, he gains courage; but when
McMurphy begins to obey Nurse Ratched, Cheswick grows so
depressed he drowns himself. His death forces McMurphy to
confront his responsibilities as a hero-figure to the patients.


Those patients who in the staff's opinion are incurably mentally
ill. They're subdivided into Walkers (Chief Bromden, Ellis,
Ruckley, George Sorenson), Wheelers (Colonel Matterson) and
Vegetables (Old Blastic).

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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey - Barron's Booknotes

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