One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey Essay

This passage is taken from the end of part three, in the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. This is a significant passage for what it reveals to the reader about the development of the protagonist Randle McMurphy as well as a change in order that is displayed in this passage. For the remainder of this commentary I will explore the impact this passage has on the plot, tone, mood and characters that is exhibited in this passage.

The plot is an aspect that is developed in this passage as the characters continue to ignore authority and let go. When all broke lose on the boat the reader would expect McMurphy to come to the rescue as he has done up until this point in the novel however he did not in this situation. As a result, the boat was span out of control which caused a sense of complete madness. Until this point in the novel McMurphy has acted as a father to his peers and this is an example of what would happens when McMurphy is not present for even the shortest amount of time. Based on these observations it is safe to say McMurphy is the factor that holds this group together.

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Two vital aspects of this passage are mood and tone, mood and tone in this passage hold a significant meaning as they enhance the meaning of this passage. From the very begining of this passage the tone starts off with action packed that can be seen from the line where the Chief says the lines tangle and they shoot everywhere. As a result this gives the reader a feeling that there is chaos on the deck. Another observation is McMurphy was not outside with the other patients, this ties back in with the idea when McMurphy is not with the other patients bad things will happen.

In the next paragraph when McMcuphy comes back form the cabin the mood shifts form a chaotic to a relaxed tone. This can be seen when the narrator talks about how McMurphy as laughing at everything he could possibly laugh at. This relaxed feeling is confirmed when the Chief says “you have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance”. Finally towards the end of the passage the tone contrasts the tone at the beginning of the novel completely. The tone turns visionary or poetic, another important aspect about the final paragraph is the tense changes to the past. This can be seen as it the passage turns into more of a reflection rather than a narration of events.

Similarly mood plays an important role in this passage. It starts out with a tense and suspenseful mood as it as the Chief describes the disorder on the boat. Due to the mood this passage makes you want to know more about what is going to happen. Once McMurphy comes out of the cabin the mood changes completely, it becomes carefree in a way from all the laughing. The other characters are not used to this so it is something now and some are not sure how to act. In the last two paragraphs the mood changes it becomes very static and descriptive, there is no sense of time movement and the mood becomes very somber.

The final aspect that I will examen from this passage is the ever changing characters in this novel. With this passage we can see clearest development coming form McMurphy. In this novel he has always given himself the responsibility of taking care of the other patients, this has always been very clear up until now. In this passage it is very clear that McMurphy is now “letting go” this is one of the first times that he kicks back and laughs with out paying attention to the situation. This is again shown when the Chief says “you have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance”. This shows how McMurphy has drastically changed over the entire book as a whole.

In conclusion this passage is a importing passage in the book especially in terms of character development. This is a turning point in the way that McMurphy handles different situations involving the other patients. Through the development of the plot, tone, mood and characters this passage conveys the turning point of McMurphy letting go.

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