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One Flew Over The Cukoo's Nest

1540 words - 7 pages

In Ken Kesey’s thought provoking novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, there is much confusion about the presence and meaning behind the fog that clouds Chief Bromden’s mind and his perspective at the mental institution. Throughout the novel the fog is often described as a cloud that comes and goes within the ward. This fog seems to engulf the patients and prevents them from behaving as they would normally choose. After the arrival of R.P. McMurphy, the fog begins to dissipate and Chief, as well as the other patients, becomes more aware of his own confidence and self worth. The fog is a manifestation of Chief’s delusion, brought on by his fears, lifetime of self-chosen seclusion and lack ...view middle of the document...

This behavior is very similar to an adult that would block out traumatic childhood experiences. It is easier for Chief to hide in the delusional world than it is to deal with the trauma he experiences on the ward. Chief would allow the fog to overtake him because it had become a familiar safe haven in his life, a place where he could hide and not be bothered.
When Chief was younger he experienced instances similar to fog when faced with awkward situations. When approached by a girl who showed interest in him, Chief was unable to see her face clearly. A strange mist between Chief and the girl had made her features seem blurry. As soon as she made contact with him however, his vision became clear and her features came into focus (pg 39). This suggests the human element that Chief is lacking is connection with others. It seems as though he spends so much time in his head that he loses touch with the physical aspect of his environment and only through making contact with others does reality return.
Chief also exhibits his acceptance of the fog by his desire to remain invisible to the world. “…the fog, as painful as it might be…you could relax and lose yourself in it” (pg.131). When Chief was ten years old a group of individuals came to his home to assess the property value, when Chief spoke he was ignored and felt as though he did not exist (pg. 210). This and other events led Chief to remain in silence for a large portion of his life. This caused Chief to feel imperceptible to the world around him. Chief was able to find security in his invisibility, in his absence of existence and therefore became submissive to the fog.
The fog itself could also be provoked by the medication given to the patients on the ward. It seems that the heaviness of the fog is dependent on the alertness of the state of Chief’s mind. After taking the medication Chief slips into a relaxed frame of mind and the fog billows into his surroundings. “I can stay off here for good. I’m not scared anymore. They can’t reach me. Just the words reach me, and those’re fading too.” (pg.138). Although Chief is still aware of his environment he can do little to prevent the fog from overwhelming him. There is no evidence that the other patients are experiencing the medication on the same level as Chief. However, because of his tendency to become aggressive when forced to do something he does not want to, Chief may have received specific medication that would stifle his defiant behavior. Whatever drug the patients were receiving on the ward seemed to only strengthen Chief’s delusions and reluctance to escape the fog.
When R.P. McMurphy arrives on the ward his unorthodox behavior attracts the attention of all the patients. Chief observes his behavior closely and recognizes the strength that he possesses. Chief having been on the ward for a very long time has become a slave to routine and with the introduction of an individual who is defiant to the consistent...

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