In Keseys One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, Randall Patrick McMurphys sacrificial death is necessary in order for the patients of the ward to complete their evolution into autonomous individuals.

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The Necessary Sacrifice                                                

Death is inevitable for all, but it is the sacrificial deaths that are told and retold throughout history, their glory unravaged by time. From the Bible to summer blockbusters, sacrificial deaths are revered and honoured. In Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Randall Patrick McMurphy’s sacrificial death is necessary in order for the patients of the ward to complete their evolution into autonomous individuals.

When McMurphy arrives in the ward, he witnesses countless cries for help from the emasculated and repressed patients. Over the years, the men of the ward have been controlled by the big nurse, who Harding admits to be “the master of forcing the trembling libido out into the open”. (68) Harding himself is a hand-talker, but he often “wrings his” white, feminine hands “like a fly” to repress his emotions. (58) His rarely used laugh is “like a nail coming out of a plank”. (59) In a ward devoid of any integrity and strength, the men are not willing to help each other simply because “as soon as a man goes to help somebody, he leaves himself wide open”. (121) As McMurphy goes on to discover, “there are only a few men on the ward who are committed”, and although they could check out, they just don’t have “the guts”. (167, 168) Seeing the need of the patients, McMurphy begins to lead them out of their shells, whether by defying the big nurse: “running his hand through the glass” to take forbidden cigarettes; or by bringing back masculinity and laughter to the ward: initiating the male bonding fishing trip “where men are men and boats are boats” and wheedling “a skinny laugh out of some Acute who’d been scared to grin since he was twelve”. (172, 177, 175)  He provides moral support for the patients, entertaining them “for hours, [sitting] and [talking] and [telling] all kinds of stories”. (129) Through his effort, McMurphy slowly brings out each man, teaching them to be their own person, teaching them to not fear individualism.

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The recovery of the patients with McMurhpy’s help is evident in the later parts of the novel, signifying his role as their shepherd. With McMurphy’s support, the patients collectively bested the big nurse, sitting in front of a blanked-out TV set and pretending to watch baseball while “she’s ranting and screaming behind [them]”. (128) Chief Bromden states “now that McMurphy was around to back them up, the guys started letting fly everything that ever happened on the ward they didn’t like”. (145) Not only did they fight for their rights, they were improving and restoring themselves as well. “Harding began ...

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