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Please give examples of arguments defending Nurse Ratched's actions on the ward in One...

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nickr | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted August 23, 2013 at 3:40 AM via web

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Please give examples of arguments defending Nurse Ratched's actions on the ward in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and refute responsibility for wrongdoing against  a malpractice and fraud lawsuit filed by the families of the Chief, Harding, Bibbitt, Ruckly, Ellis, Fredrickson, Sorensen, and Mc Murphy.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 23, 2013 at 6:15 AM (Answer #1)

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Any such arguments would have to focus on the way that Nurse Ratched in the novel is shown to be a representative of the forces of the Combine, and as such represents the ideas of society at large about mental illness. Nurse Ratched can therefore defend herself by arguing she was merely following established practice and thinking of the day with regard to the treatment of mental health. Note how the text clearly associates her with the Combine, which is Chief Bromden's image of society and how it treats those who do not fit in. The following quote comes just after McMurphy has managed to gain permission to have a second room to be a designated games room, against Nurse Ratched's wishes:

She'll go on winning, just like the Combine, because she has all the power of the Combine behind her. She don't lose on her loses, but she wins on ours.

As the representative of "the Combine," or the powers of society, her ultimate defence is that she was merely following standard procedure. In a sense, you could argue that she was right all along, as if this procedure had been followed and McMurphy had not been allowed to create such chaos in the ward, there would not have been the suicides that occurred through the raising of hopes. The defence of Nurse Ratched therefore needs to focus on her adherence to policy and rules and regulations, that she at least would argue are designed for the good of the patients.

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