Examine how Kesey's message is evident in the novel.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The original question had to be edited.  I think that Kesey's message is evident in the novel through McMurphy.  One of the novel's most critical themes is individuals asserting their voice no matter how overwhelming forces of social control and oppression might be.  McMurphy represents the idea that all people have the right to speak and be heard.  Regardless of the machinery and apparatus of control that subsumes individuals, it is the ability the individual to speak and be heard that defines their humanity.  This message is evident in how the other inmates are essential silent, dormant beings who buckle under Nurse Ratched's control.

Yet, this changes when McMurphy enters the ward.  He recognizes that she is "running things," but he will not be intimidated or silenced because of it.  He is able to embody the force of change by demanding that his voice be heard and seeking to form solidarity with others in demanding that they have their voices heard.  It is here where Kesey's message is so poignantly clear.  McMurphy is not content with having his own voice heard.  He wants the other inmates along with him to be heard, to have their experiences validated, and to rebel against Nurse Ratched.  McMurphy's use of voice is not simply an individualistic one, as it seeks to forge bonds of solidarity with others.  This becomes the important message from Kesey's work.  When individuals seek to broaden social alliances and generate solidarity, greater success will be evident.  Chief is able to rebel and break out because of McMurphy's willingness to reach out to him and create a sense of social cohesiveness.  It is here where the message of the novel is evident.

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