Illustration of Nurse Ratched

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

by Ken Kesey

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How has McMurphy avoided the Combine in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest?

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As the novel progresses, Bromden continues to be amazed at the defiance that McMurphy expresses towards Nurse Ratched and the Combine, the key force behind society and its treatment towards those who it determines need "fixing" and making socially acceptable once again. Bromden begins to stop worrying about the Combine and what it might do to McMurphy because of his larger-than-life character:

I'd think he was strong enough being his own self that he would never back down the way she was hoping he would. I'd think, maybe he truly is something extraordinary. He's what he is, that's it. Maybe that makes him strong enough, being what he is.

What has helped McMurphy avoid the Combine and its various forces shaping him and moulding him, therefore, is the simple act of being completely who he says and the person that he presents himself as being. His evident larger-than-life character is something that remains strong and uncowed in the face of the forces ranged against him (in the form of Nurse Ratched) and he, unlike the other patients on the ward, is secure enough in his own character to not let anybody mould him or suggest that he is anybody other from who he knows himself to be.

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