What is the significance of the fog that Chief sees?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

On one hand, the fog is a reflection of Chief's own condition.  Being schizophrenic, Chief's views of reality are shrouded in mystery, in their own fog.  We, as the reader, struggle with understanding what is in his reality, and thus we and he live in a world of the fog.  The idea of fog being able to obscure the clear and present understanding of reality is another element of significance.  In the ward of patients, there is a "fog" in terms of what constitutes health and what constitutes insanity.  The dominating control of Nurse Ratched and those who are linked to her machinery is "fogged' by the fact that she maintains order and discipline for the patients.  Her motives are shrouded by her own desire for control and domination, not seen by others.  In this, Nurse Ratched's perception is in a fog, while her intent seems fairly clear to the patients under her rule.  Whether or not Chief himself is who he purports to be is a "fog."  Chief wants to put forth the facade that he is "deaf and dumb," when the reality is quite opposite.  Chief's awakening at the hands of McMurphy is reflective of him coming out of his own "fog" and emerging from the "fog" of how others see him.  In these lights, "fog" carries with it much in way of symbolic meaning in Kesey's work.

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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

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