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How to: Escape a Combine Harvester Essay

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How to: Escape a Combine Harvester

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey explores the tendency of humans to conform to ideals proposed by popular society. The participants in this society process their new members, shunning those who deviate from the norm. Ken Kesey uses the image of a combine harvester to symbolize the organized way society classifies its inhabitants. As a person excluded from society, Chief Bromden feels pressured by the representatives of society who try to ‘fix’ him, to make him conform to the popular ideal. Chief imagines himself lost in a fog when he feels overwhelmed by the demands of society. However, this fog starts to disappear when Randall Patrick McMurphy enters the ward. McMurphy teaches the patients
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It’s for fixing up mistakes made in the neighborhoods and in the schools and in the churches, the hospital is. When a completed product goes back out into society, all fixed up as new, better than new sometimes, it brings joy to the Big Nurse’s heart; something that came in all twisted different is now a functioning, adjusted component” (40). Chief blames the organized groups in society, not nature, of creating ‘crazy’ people. The unique ‘rebels’ of society are the ones who get excluded or bullied in schools and churches and get put in institutions when they deviate too far from the norm. Instead of conforming to society, of taking part in the combine’s process, the ward’s patients reject the rules and become ‘mistakes’. Big Nurse and the ward ‘fix’ the mistakes of society, adjusting them to the popular ideal.
Chief starts to fight the manipulative powers of the fog and the combine when McMurphy enters the ward. Chief recognizes the combine can be successfully challenged when McMurphy stands up to Big Nurse. Chief believes he “saw her whipped” (101), but then realizes she, and all she stands for are too powerful to be thwarted: “I know now there is no real help against her or her combine. McMurphy can’t help any more that I could. Nobody can help. And the more I think about how nothing can be helped, the faster the fog rolls in” (101). Chief recognizes Big
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