The Use Of The Dog In The Hallucinations Of Chief In One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

Throughout “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” Ken Kesey repeatedly uses animals, specifically the dog, in Chief’s hallucinations to symbolize Chief’s mental transformation in the mechanized state of the ward under the inspiration from McMurphy. Ultimately, Kesey warns against the power of technology and encourages people to work together to overcome adversity.

Chief Bromden, the narrator of this book, talks about his experience in the ward. Nurse Ratched, who runs the ward, uses her power to intimidate patients like Bromden into abiding by strict rules, which strip individuality from the patients. When a new inmate, McMurphy, comes to the ward, none of the patients know what to do because McMurphy immediately rebels against the nurse. Meanwhile, Bromden’s hallucinations about nature, specifically the representation of each animal, begin to transform and change when he embraces McMurphy’s nonconformist mindset.

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Kesey describes Bromden’s earlier hallucinations as an embodiment of Bromden’s self-effacing character through the symbolism of a dog and a bird, demonstrating how Kesey elicits the dangers of conformity. Bromden first hallucinates about a dog when the orderlies pin him down and shave him. Bromden imagines hunting a bird with his father.

Each aspect of the hunting represents his feelings about the ward. Specifically, Bromden describes that the bird (being hunted) is “safe as long as he keeps still and stands still” but the hunting dog helps Papa (Bromden’s father) hunt the bird by “sniffing and circling, louder and closer” (7). The Big Nurse’s policies belittle Bromden, so he acts deaf and dumb. Consequently, the stagnant bird in this hallucination represents Chief’s mentality of surviving the ward as long as possible. Bromden believes staying still allows him to avoid trouble, even though he inevitably gives up his individuality. On the other hand, the dog represents the orderlies chasing Bromden, symbolizing how they aid the mechanized state of the ward (Papa’s gun symbolizes the pills the Big Nurse forces the patients to digest without protest). Papa eventually succeeds in killing the bird, symbolizing the Big Nurse’s resources (people and tools) for forcing her patients to acquiesce to any of her demands. Throughout this entire hallucination, Kesey demonstrates the impossibility of survival in the ward due to the overwhelming power of technology. More importantly, Kesey shows how isolating oneself ultimately leads to one’s demise, whether mentally or physically.

This motif emerges again when Bromden looks outside the window and imagines hearing a car approaching, as well as seeing a lead goose and a dog, which ends unclearly: “…that lead goose was right in the center of that circle, bigger than the others… I (Bromden) watched the dog and the car making for the same spot of pavement… The dog was almost to the rail fence at the edge of the grounds” (165). Like the gun in Bromden’s previous hallucination about hunting, the car represents Big Nurse’s technological weapons (pills, electroshock therapy, etc.). Interestingly, in this hallucination, the dog’s significance transforms and now represents the patients, specifically Bromden. On the other hand, the juxtaposition of the geese and the dog shows that the geese are free, representing how the lead goose is like McMurphy’s vie to lead the inmates to stay away from supporting Big Nurse’s absurd policies. The end result of the car approaching the dog represents McMurphy’s fight for freedom in the ward is suppressed by Big Nurse’s omniscient power and emasculation of the patients.

Through this imagination, Kesey warns that if one tries to overtake the machine, that one will be killed. The only way to escape is to work with one another for freedom. Through these two hallucinations, Kesey shows the slow transformation of Bromden and the effect McMurphy has on the patients. These different animal symbols show how important recognizing one’s own fears and working with others will help one overcome his or her fears.

Kesey further develops Bromden’s self-discovery near the end when Bromden realizes confidence in himself leads to freedom and power against Nurse and the ward, demonstrating how one person (McMurphy) can impact many. Specifically, Bromden joins McMurphy’s fist fight against one of the orderlies to protect George (another patient), showing that now Bromden aligns with McMurphy’s values of self-expression without the containment of Big Nurse’s policies.

As a result, the orderlies send both McMurphy and Bromden to electroshock therapy. When McMurphy is about to get his electroshock therapy, Bromden imagines, “Sparrows fluffed out against the cold, scratching among the sparks for seeds. We cut across the crackling grass, past the digger squirrel holes where I saw the dog” (281). This description of the sparrow shows how Bromden is continually searching for his own individuality. Specifically, the sparrow scratching for seeds represents the patients’ desperation for freedom.

Specifically, McMurphy’s desire: the dog’s freedom and free will show the patients’ search for happiness and their passion/reason to live. This particularly references McMurphy’s transformation; he originally harbored a hedonistic and selfish mindset upon his arrival at the ward because he sought an easier alternative to prison. However, the dog’s transitions and adventures illustrate how McMurphy has found happiness by assisting his fellow patients. Kesey shows that while it may take a long time for people to identify their true passion or reason to live, it is crucial to unlock it. Additionally, Kesey highlights that people often need a role model to discover their true selves. Despite undergoing electroshock therapy, Chief remains confident and strong thanks to McMurphy’s presence, exemplifying the importance of friendship and role models. Near the end of the book, after McMurphy is lobotomized, Chief realizes he needs to escape the confines of the ward. Consequently, he runs away.

He describes this experience as a release from Big Nurse’s mechanized state. While fleeing, Chief articulates his newfound freedom: “I remembered seeing the dog go, toward the highway… I felt like I was flying. Free… But I didn’t stop” (324). Big Chief recollects the dog, serving as a demonstration of the relief he feels from Big Nurse’s power. Due to McMurphy, Big Chief feels stronger and more confident, enabling him to abscond from the ward. Just like the dog, Chief escapes onto the highway. For the first time, no mention of a machine needing to be confronted is made, indicating that Chief has managed to evade the machine by running from it. Through Chief’s escape from the ward, Kesey cautions against a direct confrontation with machines, instead advocating for finding empowerment through struggles and breaking free from them. Kesey exemplifies through Chief how curiosity and confidence can help to escape the current circumstances. Through these quotes, Kesey shows that personal transformation is possible when guided by someone ambitious and bold.

Through Bromden’s hallucinations, Kesey reveals how his insecurities metamorphose into a confident true self. Hence, Kesey warns that technology may provide leverage to some extent, but it can always be countered by collective force. He underscores the importance of individuals working together towards a common goal. McMurphy cultivated a shared goal of resisting Big Nurse’s oppressive policies and replacing them with patient-respecting ones. Similarly, Kesey encourages individuals to build up their own confidence and not be deterred by failures.

Juvenile Justice System And Juvenile Delinquency

Juvenile Delinquency is defined as the committing of criminal acts by a young person who is well below the age of being able to be prosecuted criminally. It is also referred to as juvenile offending. These behaviors are usually beyond the control of their parents or guardians, causing law enforcement to step in. Juveniles can never be convicted and sentenced to death or life in prison unless they are tried as an adult.

A status offender is defined as a juvenile being charged with an offense that otherwise wouldn’t be considered an offense if they were an adult. Some examples of this include drinking, smoking, staying out past curfew hours, or running away. Status offenders are usually not incarcerated for their first offense. Usually, they are given some other type of sanction, depending on the circumstance. Some officers may use the ‘counsel and release’ tactic, where they give them a warning not to repeat the same behaviours or any other behaviours for that matter and let them be free to go. They can also hold them until a parent comes to get them and release them into their custody with recognizance. If these measures don’t work or if there have been many offenses, they can then be referred to court.

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Juvenile offenders are always referred to the courts by law enforcement. These cases could reach law enforcement through the contact of their family or through an arrest. The procedure for handling juvenile cases is slightly different from adults. However, they ultimately vary depending on the state and its court discretion. Initially, most juveniles that have gotten into trouble are instantly viewed as being delinquent, but some officials may be able to change that perception in their defence.

Once the juvenile reaches court, it is up to the officials as to what they want to do with the case, depending on many factors, such as the seriousness of the act, the juvenile’s age, amount of evidence for a potential case, and the gender of the offender. Statistically, about 20% of cases are dismissed, and 25% are handled informally, while the remaining 55% go through formal court proceedings. During informal cases, the juvenile may be subjected to counseling, paying a fine, or doing community service. If they do not follow through with their informal duties, the case can then be sent to court and be arraigned. A difference with juvenile court versus adult court is the terminology they use. They typically have similar or the same meanings but are simply worded differently. In most cases, during arraignment, the judge usually lets the offender remain in their parental custody unless they pose a threat or they believe they may leave town.

Once a minor is arrested, they must be given one of three options almost immediately, otherwise, they can’t be detained beyond 48 hours. At the police station, they are entitled to a call with their parent/guardian, as well as one with their attorney if possible or needed. If the minor is a repeat offender, they have no choice but to have a petition for a case filed.

Mental health problems are very prevalent among juveniles and often go unnoticed. It’s important to assess mental health conditions at the earliest signs. Many juveniles are inappropriately placed within the juvenile justice system; some may not understand their actions or may lack competency during questioning. Consequently, their statements may be used against them unfairly. It’s reported that over 70 percent of juveniles in the system have mental health disorders each year in the United States, equating to one in five juveniles out of the two million affected. If a juvenile is determined to be mentally impaired, they must be treated with care, and may require additional support to grasp their situation. The three most common disorders among these youths include emotional disorders such as mood swings and depression, anxiety disorders encompassing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and schizophrenia, and behavioral disorders such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Before decision-making, proper testing and assessments should be undertaken to prevent these youth from being incarcerated if other rehabilitation options might present better outcomes for them.

If an adequate assessment is conducted beforehand to ascertain true mental incompetency, I do not believe juveniles should be charged or incur criminal records, especially not for a first offense. They should be referred to specialists and advised to seek counseling to address their issues. If the process is successful, it may have a positive impact on them. However, if they persistently repeat the same actions despite numerous treatment options, they should then be given a criminal record to prevent them from exploiting leniency.

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