Leadership in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and Leadership in the Real World

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Leadership in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and Leadership in the Real World

The theme of leadership in the ward does not mirror the outside world very accurately, as in contemporary society a leader of a society or an organisation is almost always accountable to a person senior to him. This is not seen in the novel, as Big Nurse seems to be answerable to no one, in fact, it is arguable that everyone answers to her. A hierarchy or class system operates inside the ward which can be clearly seen throughout the course of the novel. Patients living within the ward are ‘classed’ according to the state of their mental health or to the condition of which they suffer from. Chief describes the method of discriminating patients from
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McMurphy has a strong, intelligent character and so he is able to manipulate others who are more vulnerable than he is. An example of his manipulation is when he shows some playing cards with pornographic photographs on them to Cheswick:

‘I brought along my own deck…Fifty-two positions’. Cheswick is pop-eyed already…those cards don’t help his condition. (16)

Personality types which can be seen in contemporary society can also be seen very clearly with regard to the characters in the ward setting:

McMurphy’s character is a rebel character who hates authority and authoritative figures. This is, perhaps, why he clashes so fiercely with Big Nurse.

Chief is the veteran of the ward. He has been there the longest, since the start of World War II, with the exception of Big Nurse. He has the mutual respect of everyone in the ward.

Billy Bibbit is insecure and has a stutter. His name is ironic in that it resembles a stutter when said. His problems have probably been caused by his overbearing mother, who was very protective and spoke for him whenever possible.

In a large group of individuals, these personalities are often seen; A rebel character who goes against the system is almost always present in a class inside a school; A veteran who has gained the respect of
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