Charles Cheswick Analysis & Physical Description

Instructor: Margaret Stone

Margaret has taught both college and high school English and has a master's degree in English.

Charles Cheswick is a timid man, and that's just the way Nurse Ratched likes it. The nurse rules her ward in the mental institution with absolute authority, until a new patient inspires Cheswick and the other patients to challenge her in Ken Kesey's ''One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest''.

The Rabbits

Charles Cheswick, described as 'pop-eyed' upon his first appearance in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, is a patient who is charmed by the charismatic Randle McMurphy's appearance on the ward. McMurphy is everything that Cheswick is not; McMurphy is willing to challenge Nurse Ratched, while all the other patients are afraid to engage in battle with her.

Harding, another man on the ward, describes Cheswick to McMurphy when McMurphy first arrives at the institution. 'Cheswick there is a rabbit,' he says. When Cheswick tries to dispute this description by claiming that he says the same things about Nurse Ratched that McMurphy says, Harding responds: 'Yes, but you said them very quietly and took them back later.'

Harding employs zoomorphism, or the portrayal of humans as animals, to describe all the men on the ward. He singles out Charles Cheswick and Billy Bibbit, however, as the 'rabbits' because they are the most timid and fearful of the residents on the ward.

Group Therapy

Cheswick cheers McMurphy on as he continually antagonizes Nurse Ratched. 'Yeah,' Cheswick says, 'tell her to go to hell.' Cheswick shakes his fist, willing McMurphy to engage in combat with Nurse Ratched, a fight he is too afraid to lead. He is always ready to support McMurphy, however, when McMurphy leads the charge in the group meetings.

Cheswick voices support for the second day room--something the nurse opposes--and his is the first hand raised in favor of McMurphy's proposal to change the television schedule so the men can watch the World Series.

When he sits by McMurphy in group therapy, Cheswick is described as 'pleased to be sitting next to McMurphy, feeling brave like this. It's the first time Cheswick ever had somebody along with him on his lost causes.'

Without McMurphy's support, however, Cheswick is not brave at all. When he complains about Nurse Ratched confiscating the men's cigarettes, he looks to McMurphy for backup. 'I ain't no little kid to have cigarettes kept from me like cookies! We want something done about it, ain't that right Mac,' Cheswick says. McMurphy, having just learned the full implications of his commitment to the institution, is lost in thought and does not respond.

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