“Anointest my head with conductant. Do I get a crown of thorns? ” (p. 283). This quote in One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, is used by Ken Kesey, the author, to represent the Christ like healing powers of R. P. McMurphy on the patients of the mental hospital. One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest takes place in a mental health facility in Oregon. A new patient named McMurphy gets transferred to the ward, secretly trying to get out of labor duty in prison. What ensues during his stay changes the lives of all on the ward.
McMurphy’s therapeutic healing power, his fishing trip, and his self sacrifice represent him as a strong Christ figure in the story. McMurphy has a strong healing power throughout the story, much like Christ. For example, the narrator of the story, known as big chief, never spoke before McMurphy entered the ward. “It didn’t sound like much because my throat was rusty and my tongue creaked. ” (p. 218). Chief is thanking McMurphy for the gum he gave him. Up to this point Chief hadn’t spoken out loud and everyone assumed he was deaf and dumb.
This belief didn’t stop McMurphy from giving chief attention and treating him like a normal human being. Giving Chief confidence to talk clearly demonstrates a Christ like healing power in the respect of showing compassion for others. In addition to a therapeutic healing power McMurphy has another obvious Christ like quality. Mac took 12 men on a fishing trip, allowing a sense of confidence and pride to creep into the 12 men he took. “As McMurphy led the twelve of us toward the ocean. ” (p. 239). This quote is very representative of Christ taking his 12 apostles to the ocean to fish.
This trip is significant because afterwards the patients, much like the apostles to Christ, have gained more faith in their leader McMurphy. The third and most obvious Christ like trait McMurphy has is his sense of self sacrifice. When Billy Bibbit commits suicide in the end, Mac knows the nurse will try and use this to regain her control over the patients. In a last ditch effort he attacks the nurse, which leads to his lobotomy, and ultimately, his demise. By attacking the nurse he did successfully instill strength and confidence in the patients allowing many to get up and leave the ward.
“Sefelt and Fredrikson signed out together, against medical advice, and two days later another three Acutes left the ward. ” (p. 319). His acts of self-sacrifice inspired many men, just as Christ did my getting on the cross. It is because of Mac’s therapeutic healing power, his therapeutic fishing trip, and his extraordinary sense of self-sacrifice that allows him to be categorized as one of the strongest Christ figures throughout all of literature. Mac was able to inspire and change the lives of seemingly hopeless men, giving them confidence and a sense of pride. He gave them someone to look up and aspire to.