Character Analysis: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest In the novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Kesey makes many allusions to McMurphy as a Christ-like fgure. As the story progresses the religious references increase and become more evident. Any character can be a Christ figure, “where you find them, and as you find them. If the indicators are there, then there is some basis for drawing the conclusion” (Foster, 2003, p. 123). Throughout the novel McMurphys actions parallel the actions of Christ.
From the beginning it was clear McMurphy was different from the other patients. As his visit prolonged, McMurphy began to care for he patients much like Christ cared for his followers. In order to depict this similarity, Kesey used foreshadowing, events, and feelings. Primarily, McMurphy began to resemble Christ as soon as he stepped onto the ward. Upon his arrival, McMurphy received what a shower. This shower was similar to the baptism of Christ. The shower represented the cleaning or purifying of McMurphys soul from the world and its sins.
McMurphys development as a Christ figure continues and becomes more apparent when he took some of the other patients on a fishing trip. He allowed any patients to sign up for his trip and oincidentally, when it was time for the trip, McMurphy was leading, “the twelve of us [patients] towards the ocean” (Kesey, 1962, p. 239). The twelve people can represent Jesus’ twelve disciples. Resembling Christ, McMurphy had gained his own followers. During the trip, McMurphy drew back and let the other twelve patients learn on their own.
By allowing them to struggle at the beginning, they soon learned that they were strong enough to endure the situation on their own. At the conclusion of the trip one of the patients stated that the experience of the fishing trip had gained them courage and changed them in some sort of way. This shows McMurphy leading the patients and guiding them to protect themselves, Just like Jesus led his disciples. Furthermore, Kesey depicts McMurphy as a Christ figure by making him a hero. One of Jesus’ most well-known qualities was to heal the sick.
Jesus made the blind man see and the speechless man speak. McMurphy does the same. One of the patients on the ward, known as Chief hid from everyone the fact that he could hear and speak. McMurphy was the one that encouraged Chief to speak for the first time after so many years of silence, when he said, “Thank-you” (Kesey, 1962, p. 217). This ultimately healed Chief of his illness. McMurphys actions parallel the miracles performed by Jesus. Finally, McMurphy makes the ultimate sacrifice to represent a Christ figure.
After an incident on the ward, McMurphy was sent to another building to receive electroshock therapy (EST) after he refused to admit he was wrong to the Nurse. A denial to one’s actions reminds us of Christ’s refusal to deny his faith and his father. Like Christ denying his faith, if McMurphy had admitted he was in the wrong, he would have been spared his life. McMurphy refused to give up and sacrificed himself for all the patients. While receiving shock treatments, he was placed upon a cross- uffered, one on the cross-shaped table, the other on a cross.
Before one of his treatments, McMurphy even asked for a crown of thorns (Kesey, 1962, p. 283). These references solidify McMurphy as a Christ figure. All in all, Keseys development of his character McMurphy leads us to believe he represents Christ. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is about one man sharing his experiences and changing the people around him in a positive way. McMurphy helped these patients, Just as Jesus was devoted to helping others himself. Through his actions and words, McMurphy was successfully portrayed as a Christ-like figure in the novel.