Mccarthyism and the One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest

2739 Words Feb 2nd, 2013 11 Pages
Vincent Sham
Text & Context
Prof. Grisafi
Final Paper
McCarthyism and the One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
In the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, the characters of Nurse Ratched and Bromden Chief both serve as social commentary of the government of the 1950s. Nurse Ratched represents the control and dominance of the government in the 50s, and Bromden Chief represents the oppression of non-white people by the government and McCarthyism. McCarthyism was a tool that was used by the government at that time in order to scare and manipulate citizens. Similarly, Nurse Ratched symbolizes McCarthyism because she instills fear and exerts control over the patients in the mental ward.
Nurse Ratched’s character represents the
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Because of this party connection, McCarthy was able to establish his own investigative committee—Investigative Subcommittee of the Committee on Government Operations. Because his committee gained the most media coverage, McCarthy became a “hero” in the public’s eye. Aware of this, president Eisenhower gave significant support to McCarthy’s committee. McCarthy was allowed to run his own agenda, and at time override the law due to his popularity and his support from the President. In the same way, Nurse Ratched was allowed to override the decisions of her superiors because of her relationship with the doctor’s supervisor.
The log book also symbolize a significant part of the history. In the novel, Nurse Ratched reads out various hearsays of the log book that has been written by a patient who has been a “spy” on other patients. She says, “according to the notes listed by various patients in the log, Mr. Harding has been heard to say that she ‘damn well gives the bastards reason to stare.’ He has also been heard to say that he may give her reason to seek further sexual attention.’” Despite whether the fact that the information is true or not, Nurse Ratched uses the various hearsays from the other patients to not only humiliate Mr. Harding, but also in a sense manipulate him. Obviously, Mr. Harding does not want people to discuss what he says in the public, but this is just what Nurse Ratched wants because she
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