Illustration of Nurse Ratched

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

by Ken Kesey

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Why is Harding hospitalized in Chapter 5 of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest?

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Judging from the intimidation of Nurse Ratched, Dale Harding is insecure.  Further, in his conversation with McMurphy as he waves his overly pretty hands, Harding suffers from unsureties of his masculinity because of his pretty young wife and because he feels he is "a rabbit."

Failure, we are--feeble, stunted, weak little creatures in a weak little race.  Rabbits, sans whambam; a pathetic notion.

Ironically, then, Harding has checked himself into the hospital because of an emasculating wife only to be further emasculated by the stern and insinuating Nurse Ratched. Nevertheless, he feels somewhat empowered because in this hospital Harding can be the president of the Patients' Council and wield some authority in this role as well as in talking with the others, who are also weak in some area.

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