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Evans Shannon Evans ENG 348: Studies in US Lit 4/2/2012 Paper 2

Sensory Removal Adumbrating Societys Evolution into Ginsbergs Moloch in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest Almost everyone has had a haunting experience; a real or figurative nightmare that you either must get lost in or jolt awake from. In Ken Keseys One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest the narrator, Chief Bromden, lives in this cloudy state of mind almost all the time. After getting through the first few chapters the reader could easily write Bromden (as well as most of the rest of the patients) off as insane, he is hallucinatory and seemingly deaf and dumb (77). However the story is not quite that one dimensional. One can begin to sense that Bromden uses his half submerged consciousness as a soft, concealing, blurred blanket of protection. It is easy to see through Bromdens fear that there is a more than meets the eye story burrowing itself in this fog (78). The story has been brewing for a long time, and its catalyst comes in the form of a big, barreling, obnoxious redhead. McMurphy is the healer; the martyr, the savior, and the reason that gives any/all hope (114). From the point of his arrival he does not waste any time. He reaches his tattooed, muscular arms into the scrawny, limp abyss of powerless patients and teaches them that their lives should consist of less pecking parties (55). and more in collectively breaking the glass/windows (173). They must work together and fight. Fight what exactly? Well it is one thing that can present itself multiple ways. In the most tangible sense it is the dictator-like Nurse Ratched calculating her tactics for mental castration (60). It is the rosary the nurse with the birthmark wears during sex (253). It is the control room (156). It is the cloned colony of children playing crack the whip (204). It is the wolf that eats the lamb (61); the Combine. What Allen Ginsberg presents in Howl as Moloch, the monster/machine in Metropolis and finally, in its

Evans furthest and most horrific form, as Big Brother in George Orwells 1984. It is in the simplest sense society itself. Chief Bromden and McMurphy show that the innocent, accused loons (or in Ginsbergs terms lambs) cannot silently accept what is and continue to hide. They have to try to stand up and fight against this abominable force. Only then can the fog begin to clear and the ringing stop (173). As the book progresses it becomes fairly apparent that Bromden is seeing this fog and hearing these noises because of traumatic instances throughout his life. These images/sounds of fog and buzzing become his metaphysical explanations for his very real battle with sensory deprivation. At first it was the inevitable aftermath from one to many visits to the shock shop but after a while it became ingrained and unconsciously fused by Bromdens mental need for safety (101). It was also his cover, people who think he is deaf and dumb leave him alone with his thoughts (77). The fog is describing Bromdens suppression of his traumas (Americans taking Indians land, himself and his father never being heard, the brutality of Nurse Ratched/ the ward, and The outside world pressures of the all-powerful Combine). Chief Bromdens sensory cues become an analogy towards the bigger picture Kesey is slowly unwinding. He entwines the ward into his thoughts by examining Not a sound across the hospitalexcept for a dull, padded, rumbling somewhere deep in the guts of the building, a sound that I never noticed beforea lot like the sound you hear when youre standing late at night on top of a big hydro-electric dam. Low, relentless, brute power (78). Nurse Ratched does not resemble just any old cranky nurse. She is sly, calculating; a worker bee for a bigger picture. Bromden knows this and has for a long time; there are certain advantages to

Evans acting deaf, he gets to hear everything, even the Big Nurses plans. The fog does not stop with just his consciousness but remains to be a figure in his unconscious. This is shown through his hallucination/ nightmare of the ward as a factory (82); these figurative images become the physical metaphor for what the ward mentally inflicts. He understands the injustice but is too scared to do anything about it. He thinks it would be pointless, so he stays hidden in his obscure fog and buzzing noises, serving as constant reminders that sometime he will need to wake up. This process begins the day he hears that redheads singing; almost strong and clear (83) enough to save them both but not quite. Nurse Ratched is both a ball-cutter, and a wolf (57-60). Her tactics are purely inspired to mentally castrate and denounce the patients humanity (Bromden can also associate this phenomenon with white people in general because of his mother/ the land appraisers (182). She is thrilled with the cries of I lied about trying. I did take my sister! So did I! So did I! And me! And me! (49). This passage is an example of how the ward can make some of the patients oddities and lifestyle choices out to be savage, pernicious crimes they have never committed (but might as well have because they are treated as so). Whenever the Nurse insinuates something it becomes a practically a no-contested condemnation; there is no way to argue once the seed is planted. Many of the patients do not seem insane at all; rather they more likely were just different. The only thing that deserves the word insane in this scenario is the fact that people who live like Harding and Billy Bibbit (257, 168) in the past were put in mental hospitals at all. Yes, it is their choice to stay but just the notion that the outside world is so brutal to them that they feel protected when they are criticized by the same few people in the hospital versus everyone outside it.

Evans The world outside is the big operation here, the hospital is the test subject for a future world where everything will run in accordance to total societal control. Free-will will cease to exist and constraint will become the new norm. One sees through Cuckoos Nest just how strong this idea is once it has momentum and people (i.e. factory workers) behind it. It gets very close to becoming impossible to overcome. Big Nurse with her enamel and plastic face (263) loves this power trip and is a dear advocate for the cause. Her control room (156) symbolizes her role as master puppeteer in the ward. That is why Bromdens flipping of the control panel was a really important event. He showed that although it is hard, it is not impossible for an individual, or a rebellion to come and overthrow something that looks very much industrial and permanent. Bromdens hallucinations are reminiscent of the representation of society as the monster-peopleeating-factory portrayed in Metropolis. This connection foregrounds the path for Moloch to stomp in and take the attention. In Allen Ginsbergs poem, Howl, one sees how society is represented as this child-eating monster. This monster represents government, religion, education, money; the list could go on and on. A good indicator when trying to judge if something is Moloch is to ask key questions. Was it put in place by society? Could it be a manmade institution? Could it be a product of sole motives to control and blindfold the human race? Does it put down any people who live their lives differently, ones who might threaten the balance of their influence? If so it is probably a part of the ever growing system that is Moloch. Through Part 1 of Howl, Ginsberg addresses the torturous ridicule that unorthodox lifestyles are subjected to (lions eating lambs, wolves eating rabbits (61)), Bromden reflects on how Big Nurse thinks society is what decides whos sane and who isnt (48). Part 3 in Howl shows a case study of this point; Ginsberg is sympathizing with his mad friend Carl who has been admitted to an asylum. He empathizes with his punishment because he sees it as unfit to

Evans punish someone for acting untraditionally. In Cuckoos Nest the Big Nurse is described as having fantastic mechanical power (265) and McMurphy claims those Chinese Commies could have learned a few things from you lady (236). There is such irony when she scolds First Charles Cheswick and now William Bibbit! I hope youre finally satisfied. Playing with human lives gambling with human livesas if you thought yourself to be a God! (266). It is really a loaded statement because she has been the one playing god the whole time, she plotted their demise. She is Moloch personified, but she is only a small part of a very big operation where Moloch is everywhere and is everything. Big Nurse is the precursor; she is just the high ranking official for them (165). She is the feminized little sister to her abominable Big Brother. The setting that Kesey presents are all his own; but as for the ideas, well those seem very Orwell-esque. Bromden warns the reader that You can never tell when just that certain one might come in whos free enough to foul things up right and left, really make a hell of a mess and constitute a threat to the whole smoothness of the outfit. And, like I explain, the Big Nurse gets real put out if anything keeps her outfit from running smooth (41). This idea is the whole premise for a totalitarian society. The ward is the small scale example, a pre-Oceania. Chief Bromden enlightens one to a seemingly uncontestable point Shell go on winning, just like the Combine, because she has all the power of the Combine behind her As soon as you let down your guard, as soon as you lose once, shes one for good. And eventually we all got to lose. Nobody can help that (101). This is what both, McMurphy is battling against in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and what Winston succumbs to in Nineteen Eighty-Four. The reader has hope for McMurphy because society is only in the middle stages of this control,

Evans whereas the ending for Winston is ominously hinted at throughout the story; he has no hope because he lives in the final stage. Lobotomies and torture are necessary means for control; when people will not willingly oblige, it seems that society feels its only solution is force and using it to turn people into vegetables (McMurphy and Winston both meet this end). The end-all be-all for the rebellious is mental castration, If she cant cut below the belt shell do it above the eyes (165). As Chief Bromden exits the hospital, one remembers that both this novel and 1984 (although built on real, somewhat-conceivable concepts) are works of fiction, warning fictions, but still fiction none-the-less. So for the sake of our optimism one must see the hope that Chief Bromdens recovery ignites. When Bromden hears the AIR RAID (238) it is his final signal to abandon the fog and come back, he enlightens And when the fog was finally swept from my head it seemed like Id just come up after a long, deep, dive, breaking the surface after being under water a hundred years. It was the last treatment they gave me (242). He has faith in McMurphy and willingly lets him pull himself out of his half-consciousness back into reality for good. He needs to be awake in order to fight; he learns through his persevering mentor that mental illness could have the aspect of power, power (202). Ironically it is Bromden who ends up having the power McMurphy had held all along. McMurphy is the martyr, his mockery question of Do I get a crown of thorns (237) is sad indicator of what is to come. The end of the novel represents that neither the patients (rabbits) or the ward (wolves) can win while the other perseveres. Although the hydro-electric dam still runs, the Chief will still find a way to go about spearing salmon (272). One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest represents the intermediate stage (Before 1984) foreshadowing possible outcomes for the future. After finishing the novel one can see that as long as there is rebellion (breaking of glass (173)), and fighting for free will that this

Evans is the only way prevent what seems like the inevitable. There may be casualties along the way (Billy Bibbit, McMurphy) but as seen through Harding (and others), and Bromdens departure, Moloch will never truly be able to rule the world.

Evans Works Cited

Ginsberg, Allen. "Howl." Sept. 2009. Web. 2 Apr. 1991. <http://www.wussu.com/poems/agh.htm>. Kesey, Ken. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. New York, NY: Signet, 1963. Lang, Fritz. "Metropolis." Kino Lorber: Experience the Best in World Cinema. Web. 05 Apr. 2012. <http://www.kino.com/metropolis/>. "Nineteen Eighty-Four." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 04 Apr. 2012. Web. 05 Apr. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteen_Eighty-Four>.