McMurphy continually questions authority and challenges the hospital staff why? How might his behavior be seen as ethical or unethical?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

McMurphy's actions evoke a great deal of thought and analysis.  On one hand, his actions can be seen as unethical because he breaks rules and consciously seeks to undermine the structure and order to life at the hospital.  There is little evidence of actions which speak of sustaining order and established patterns of acceptability.  The lack of ethics can be seen in this desire to not follow an established structure of conduct.  However, it is precisely because of this that he can be seen as acting in an ethical manner.  His own sense of moral right and wrong and justice compels him to act in the manner he does.  He consistently seeks to make the life of the other inmates better and tries to impart a spirit of freedom and independence to those around him, most notably with Chief.  McMurphy's willingness to break the rules around him cause him to embrace a higher notion of justice.  This is what can help to allow one to see him as acting in an ethical and just manner, for sake of both himself and community.

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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

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