Illustration of Nurse Ratched

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

by Ken Kesey

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How are McMurphy and Candy similar in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest?

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Candy is McMurphy's female friend from the private sector. McMurphy brings her to the mental ward and introduces her to the patients. Candy is present when McMurphy takes the patients on an illegal fishing expedition. Billy Bibbit exhibits a fondness for Candy on the boat, and eventually, Candy provides Billy with his first sexual experience.

Candy is similar to McMurphy in that they both are free-spirited individuals who question and defy authority. They are both adventurous and rely on an uncanny intelligence that can immediately detect disingenuous behavior. However, the most notable characteristic they share is their acceptance of the mental ward patients as ordinary people. Candy and McMurphy have the rare ability to see the inmates as normal people whom they view as equals without exercising judgment.

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Candy is the female version of McMurphy.  She is courageous, daring, and defiant towards authority.  Not too many women would have agreed to accompany McMurphy and a bunch of clinically labeled psychopaths on a fishing trip, but since she is an adrenaline junky always in search of an adventure, she couldn't pass it up. On the trip she and McMurphy show their defiance toward authority figures, such as the Nurse and the boat's captain.

Also, like McMurphy, Candy is a tough, street smart woman with a lot of life experience but seemingly little education.  Still, she shows a compassionate side that makes her connect with Billy Bibbit.  She works with McMurphy to increase Billy's self-esteem; unfortunately, though their intentions are good, they sometimes miss their mark, as in the case with Billy.

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