In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, why do you think McMurphy breaks the window,destroying his chances of winning his release from the hospital? How is Bromden affected?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think McMurphy breaks the window because of principle and a pride he will not allow to be extinguished.  He had been compliant and submissive because he wanted a chance to get out of the hospital, but has just discovered that a large number of the inmates actually have not been committed to the institution, and could leave if they wanted to.  McMurphy is horrified to learn that the reason they stay is because they are afraid - they do not have "the guts" to try living on the outside.  McMurphy begins to understand that if he submits to the manipulating control of the system long enough, it will gradually undermine his confidence and sense of self to the point where, like the men around him, he will have no spirit, no will to change things and allow himself to live.  I think that in breaking the window, McMurphy is proclaiming his decision to never let that happen to him.  He will keep on fighting the established powers, asserting his selfhood and independence, even if it means he will never get out of the institution.  McMurphy is making the statement that freedom is more than something physical, it is something that must be nourished in the human heart.

By witnessing McMurphy's defiance of the system, Bromden is transformed with hope, and begins to be freed from the demons that bind him.  He watches McMurphy's challenge closely and notes, "the ringing that was in my head had stopped (Part 2).

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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

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