Throughout Ken Kesey’s tremendous novel Essay
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It is another meeting though with McMurphy which causes the most drastic and evident change to Chief Bromden’s character. In the midst of a bed time conversation with the Chief, McMurphy gives him a packet of chewing gum, the Chief replies “Thank you. ” The chief then goes on to state this again. This comment from the Chief can be taken in two separate ways; metaphorically the Chief has said “thank you” to McMurphy, but, on the other hand he has thanked McMurphy for the allowing him to open up and talk and realise that he is not, in fact, insane.
As well as that, it also shows how all along McMurphy’s inclination about the Chief was right. During that night time conversation with McMurphy the Chief talks about how small he is, demonstrating how the “combine” has affected him. “You’re… lot bigger, tougher’n I am. ” McMurphy then replies, “You stand a head taller’n any man on the ward. There ain’t a man here you couldn’t turn every way but loose, and that’s a fact! ” The Chief then dismisses this comment “No. I’m way too little. I used to be big, but not no more. You’re twice the size of me.
” This repetitive ‘negative’, “Not no more”, illustrates how he feels negative towards himself too, and how broken a man he is due to his time spent in the combine. McMurphy realises that, with the size of the Chief, he could use him to lift the control panel which he hadn’t been able to lift at the beginning of the novel. He begins to build up the chief’s morale by complementing him in a descriptive metaphor, giving an image of how life will change for the good, “Oh man I tell you, you’ll have women trippin’ you and beatin’ you to the floor.
” He offers him a free place in his “special body-buildin’ course,” and as McMurphy walks down the hall to sign the Chief up for the fishing trip he pulls the covers off him and states “Look there, Chief. Haw what did a tell ya? You growed a half foot already. ” This again is used by McMurphy to build Chief Bromden’s self image. Due to the character building of McMurphy and the Chief’s ability to find the cause of his illness he grows into a new man, a man able to be rebellious and able to pull away from the tight grasp which the “combine” has upon him. This point of rebellion expresses the Chief’s refusal to mop the hall.
“They stuck a broom out for me to do their work up the hall, I turned around and walked back to the dorm, telling myself, the hell with that. ” This emphasises the change in Chief Bromden’s character as he is now confident enough to refuse duties from the “black boys. ” This alliteration in the description of the boys is used extensively throughout the novel, emphasisng there colour, in 1962 (when it was first published) there was a lot of racism, white people were far more superior, and also their age, showing how even “boys” are running the institute, telling the ‘white men’ what to do.
But the main change to the Chief is his ability to laugh. “I could look down and see myself with the rest of the guys … and watch them, us, swinging in laughter. ” This is an effective use of imagery, as this metaphor emphasises how the Chief has grown mentally stronger as a man, as earlier on in the novel he states, “You can’t really be strong until you can see the funny side to things. ” His mental strength is illustrated through his physical strength in the shower room. “So I picked him off and threw him in the shower. He was full of tubes; he didn’t weigh more’n ten or fifteen pounds.
” Demonstrating how McMurphy’s plan of making the Chief ‘grow’ back to his real size is working. The character of Chief Bromden develops even further as when he notices a fog being produced by the combine and refuses to, “slip off and hide in it. No… never again,” as he knows, “this time I had them beat,” thus emphasising how he has nearly recovered from his sickness. Finally the Chiefs transformation is complete, when McMurphy comes back down to the ward after his lobotomy the chief kills him out of compassion and escapes by throwing the control panel at the screened window.
After the lobotomy, McMurphy states that he cannot do things like he used to, “hobbled like this”, the metaphor highlights that the institute has now got total control over McMurphy, even though he is not literally hobbled, as in cannot walk properly, he cannot think for himself, is a vegetable, he is “hobbled”. However though, the path the Chief ventures out on after escaping from the hospital is the same as the ill fated dog took earlier on in the novel when chasing a goose as it met the oncoming headlights of a vehicle, thus emphasising the battle between animals and machinery and how machinery will always win.
In conclusion Chief Bromden’s character develops extensively through out the novel from being a fully fledged member of the “chronics” to conversing with McMurphy and even going on a fishing trip with the other patients. As the novel develops the Chief “grows” back to his original size, commits an empathy killing on McMurphy to save him from the life of a chronic and escapes from the grasp of the “combine.
” However, the reader is left in a state of uncertainty at the end of the novel as they are unsure whether the story is being told by the Chief as a free man out with the hospital or if the combine have taken him back into their tight grasp and he is telling the story from recollection to another inmate. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Ken Kesey section.