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October 22, 2014

Homework Help: What does the following ...... mean ??

Posted by English as my second language on Wednesday, November 7, 2007 at 10:08pm.

Since English is my second language, I have difficulty understanding the language overall. So, if someone can please translate the following to simple terms without missing key concepts, that'll be appreciated!


The Masterstroke That Launched A Masterpiece:

In his attempt to convey what he believed to be "the essentially schizophrenic nature of mankind," Kesey, rather than telling the tale from the perspective of an uninvolved "God-Narrator," or from that of R. P. McMurphy, who might have been too involved in the main action, opted to present the story from the point of view of one of the psycho ward's bystanding schizophrenic inmates; "the Big Chief."

By telling the tale through the Chief's schizophrenic eyes, Kesey was able to, not merely "tell" the tale from an "eye witness perspective," but actually "show" the tale in a sort of "poetic-sensurround;" the reader would come to understand and appreciate the healing effect provided by McMurphy's inspiring individualism as the Chief's narration became progressively less "schizophrenic," and more concrete and objective as the story moved forward.

Additionally, it gave Kesey a viable way to provide the story with a mystical, supernatural quality. This, in turn, enabled him to give full force and effect, through the Chief's altered perception, to his allegoric and metaphoric symbolism; allowed him to have the Chief see and hear impressionistic and imaginary stimuli as though they were solid objects and real actions and occurrences, allowed him to turn the verbal and mental sparring between McMurphy and Nurse Ratched into epic battles waged between mythical, larger-than-life titans, between the very forces of good and evil itself. In sum, it enabled Kesey to convey a deeper, more personal and more spiritual reality in his story, on a variety of psychological levels, and in a manner that allows the reader to experience events 1st hand, as a bystanding schizophrenic, rather than merely collect story-related data like a detached observer.




The Mysticism Living In The Metaphors

Being of 3/4 Irish descent (a descendant of Murphys, no less) I feel a spiritual kinship with any Irishman who seeks to use his inbred insanity to dodge the spirit-sterilization wrought on individuals by society's uniformity-establishing combine. In like fashion, the OFOTCN skillfully employs the literary conventions at its disposal; allegory, metaphors, symbolism, etc., to transcend the superficial, rationally-restricted objective-appearance level limitations on the reader's understanding and appreciation of the story's characters and events.

From the moment the reader first "enters" the ward, in scene 1, Kesey awakens the reader to the existence of a spiritual reality just beyond the mundane objectivity of everyday reality, yet whose secret ministry invisibly influences actions and effects event-outcomes rational people mindlessly write off to random chance. It's from this twilight world that Kesey's "mystic-metaphors," when funneled through the schizophrenic perception of Chief Bromden, gain a palpable, presence; take on a supernatural life of their own, and guide the reader to a deeper, more intuitive understanding of his story's actions and events, whose subjective appeal requires that the reader allow them to bypass the invalidating mechanism of the mind, in favor of the superceding veracity of the truth of the heart.




Examples Of Metaphors/Symbols/Allegories Crucial To OFOTCN's Effectiveness:

"Mechanical Noises" --Kesey uses Bromden's perception of "Mechanical Noises" whenever the Big Nurse approaches, to suggest her inhumanity, lack of spirit and lack of individuality; the victory of machines over man.

"Giant Combine" --Kesey effectively uses Chief Bromden's perception of the Big Nurse as a "giant Combine." On a symbolic, intellectual level, it represents the risks & dangers attendant to one's "being an individual" in society; the conformity-police, society's stigmatizing rejection of innovators, leaders and oddballs generally.

Victims who fail to survive "being mulched by the combine," are usually alcoholics, recluses and outcasts, who at one time had been bold leaders, rugged individualists or nonconformists of one kind or another, but whose quirky, unusual social behavior; i.e., maintaining personal integrity, cultivating convictions, standing up for an unpopular view or defending the actions of other outcasts, etc., rendered them visible, easy to single out, track down and gang-up on by the ever-watchful, pack-traveling conformity-jackals.

RPM reminds the Chief of his father; a big, fearless, uncompromising tribal chief who was systematically ground down by the combine, forced to submit to the white man's unnatural laws and society, and move onto a reservation in order to save his tribe. To accommodate the white man's "civil" ways, his wife, who had useful, domestic skills, became the dominant, indispensable family leader, while he turned into a withering alcoholic recluse.

On a literal, schizophrenic level, Nurse Ratched magically takes on the physical form of a combine when she singles out individuals in the ward who don't fit in and fail to conform. In her combine form, she systematically chops down and mulches anything and anybody that "stands out," resists being subsumed or defies established order; doesn't "fit in" or neatly and efficiently blend into Society's generic pattern of sterile sameness, mechanized progress and, above all, consumerly helpfulness.

"Fog Banks" --Kesey uses Chief Bromden's perception of "fog banks" as a dual-function, "living" metaphor. For the reader it translates as, both a symbol intended to indicate the lingering or returning presence of Chief Bromden's schizophrenia, and/or a reversal of the healing process and/or the Big Nurse's reasserted dominance. Kesey imbues the metaphor with a life of its own by providing it with an "actual" physical presence as delusionally interpreted through the Chief's schizophrenic consciousness. The fog protectively enshrouds Bromden and makes him invisible whenever he anticipates conflict or confrontation; it allows him to block out unpleasant people and events and screen out anxiety-causing objects from view.

Crucifixion/Christ Allegory --Kesey revisits and modernizes the "crucifixion/Christ-figure" allegory by having RPM sacrifice his own life so that "his disciples," i.e., his fellow inmates, could be made whole again.

"The Insane Asylum As A Microcosm Of Society" Allegory --Kesey effectively employs the "insane asylum's inmate ward and its inmates" to assert a microcosmic correlation between it/them and their respective counterparts in today's repressive, dysfunctional modern society. By doing so, he asserts that the unnecessary, yet systematic & intentionally abusive methods and ideas used to treat the inmates in the institution, are no different, except on a broader scale, than that used by the state/society in its systematic abuse of IT'S respective "inmates."

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