To What Extent Does The Writer Present The Individual As Powerless In The Face Of Society In "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest"?

1615 words - 7 pages

Ken Kesey, the author of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", portrays a lot of powerless people in the face of society in his novel. I will be writing about on a couple, but mainly focusing on William (Billy) Bibbit.Who was Billy Bibbit? Billy was thirty-one year old man, who was psychologically an adolescent. Ken Kesey, demonstrates Billy's powerlessness, in a couple of places in the text, which will explain the major things that lead to Billy feeling powerless, in the face of society, by the other patients, by Nurse Ratched, and his mother. Also the feeling of powerlessness, leading to the extent of self-inflicted harm, fear, humiliation and even death.'If we had the g-guts! I could go ...view middle of the document...

'I can't wipe the razor-blade scars off your wrists or the cigarette burns off the back of your hands. I can't give you a new mother. And as far as the nurse riding you like this, rubbing your nose in your weakness till what little dignity you got left is gone and you shrink up to nothing from humiliation.'This is Chief Bromden's example of Billy's powerlessness. This is while the patients are doing there weekly meetings, where the Nurse would pick out someone, and reflect onto their weaknesses, or their conditions. But from the Chief's point of view, the Nurse was trying to degrade Billy to make him feel more powerless. Until he can' face society and forever would stay in the hospital. It is also obvious from this quote, Billy Bibbit had turned his powerlessness to the extent self-inflicted harm. I think that he believed that maybe since he was powerless in the face of society, that him harming himself, maybe gave him power over his feelings and emotions. That maybe every time he cut himself or burnt himself, it gave him the feeling that maybe he wasn't all the powerless, that he could still feel, or mask the pain. Maybe the scars reminded him that he was still in power of his body, unlike his mind, which has been demolished by the society.'What worries me, Billy,' she said - I could hear the change in her voice - 'is how your mother is going to take this.'Billy had been found in the morning, waking up from a mattress on the floor, with one of the girl's that had come during the night, Candy. In this part of the text, Nurse Ratched, is bringing up his mother, in hope to get Billy feeling more powerless, and to degrade and bring fear into him. And she got the response she wanted. Billy flinches and puts his hand up to his cheek, like he'd been burned with acid. For some reason Billy's mother seems to be an object in society or even maybe the cause of Billy's powerlessness. Was she ever physically violent? Or even emotionally? But even so, Billy is terrified of her, and this fear leads to Billy taking his life, cutting his throat in the doctor's office with one of the doctor's instruments.Another person in OFOTCN, who Kesey presents as powerless in the face of society is Mc Murphy. Yes Mc Murphy who was a con man who though this text became a modern-day rebel and hero casted in the mode of the cowboy hero of the American Western. He was appealing and manipulating, and a forceful character. But despite all his characteristics, there was a key and turning point in this text where Mc Murphy did feel some of that powerlessness that had plagued his fellow patients.'Mc Murphy was doing the smart thing. I could see that. He was giving in because it was the smartest thing to do.'Here Mc Murphy changes, he isn't the loud mouthed guy anymore, who stuck up for the patients. Now he was changed. He now felt powerless to help them, he knew he had to be in the hospital for a long time. Also he didn't know he was committed. Mc Murphy felt powerless in the...

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