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The final section of the novel is of course one of the most tragic, as the reader sees how McMurphy is finally defeated by Nurse Ratched and is given a lobotomy. However, at the same time, it is clear that the ending of the novel is also a kind of triumph, as it charts how Chief Bromden has reached full health, indicated by his awareness of his size and strength and his ability to move the concrete block that McMurphy asks him to in order to win a bet. However, at the same time, this final section also reveals how Nurse Ratched deliberately triggered an incident with McMurphy and his friends through threatening Billy Babbit with telling his mother about his evening with Candy. When Billy kills himself, this causes McMurphy to try and strangle Nurse Ratched, leading to his own lobotomy. Although it might be tempting to view this final section as a victory for the forces of the Combine, the way that Chief Bromden frees both himself and McMurphy is indicative of the mixed triumph it is for the forces of freedom in the novel. Note the following quote:
I remember I was taking huge strides as I ran, seeming to step and float a long ways before my next foot struck the earth. I felt like I was flying. Free.
Freedom, as this quote from Chief Bromden demonstrates, is something that both Bromden and McMurphy experience, even though in McMurphy's case this is in a tragic and rather sad sense. After all, because of his lobotomy, death is the only freedom he can experience.
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