Have you ever felt an innate desire to connect to another human being but you were inhibited by the expectation that you may be rejected by mainstream society. People often crave to belong to a group however; it can be fraught with difficulties. Both the film “My life as a house” and the novel “One flew over the Cuckoos nest” by Ken Kesey encapsulate the difficulties with belonging to a group as they are obscured by multiple barriers presented in the beginning. The film “My life as a house” provides an instantaneous image of an individual inability to belong to another human being. George is confronting his own mortality with the expectation that he must force his son Sam to find a sense of belonging. The inherit difficulty is that Sam’s intense antipathy for George “Why can’t you all die and leave me alone” provides definitive obstacles that will hinder the reality of finding a sense of connection between them. Like “My Life as a House”, the book “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s nest” shows the inability of patients in mental wards to belong with each other due to the dominant figure of Nurse Ratched “She was as big as a tractor”.
Both texts highlight the centrality of the main character to interact with other characters. The immediacy of the character of “Ratchet” from “One Flew Over the Cuckoos’s Nest” expostulates the barrier preventing the patients from belonging to each other. The repetition of “The Big Nurse” is a direct reference to Ratched and her interaction with the character of Bromden as she controls the lives of everyone in the ward. “Wouldn’t that be a frightening experience for anyone”. Like “Ratchet”, the illness George is experiencing also symbolises an obstacle that inhibits his ability to form a meaningful relationship with his son. The continuing persistent of George to form a strong bond with his son becomes somewhat tenuous when he discovers his fathers’ terminal illness “So you knew you were dying from the start?”. The rebuilding of Georges former home is a symbol to rebuilding his relationship with his son “I built myself a life, I built myself a house”.
As the house is slowly built the relationship between George and Sam becomes incredibly close which defines the true nature of belonging. Sam’s negative attitude towards his father using words such as “Shit and Fuck” poses difficultly for them to connect with each other. “Well haven’t we all at some time behaved in a similar manner”. This however as time progresses, Sam was able to think better of George shown through the consecutive long shots of father and son building the house. The first sign of father and son belonging was when they demolished the old house together. This was shown by a mid-range shot of them knocking over a wall together. The destruction the house signifies moving away from the past and commencing a whole new relationship. The true nature is particular challenging within the confines of “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” because the patients are heavily medicated “They got enough of those pills down me so I don’t know a thing”.
The use of jargon such as “Chronicle, vegetable and wheelers” emphasises the difficulty of belonging in the hospital as they are separated into categories. This novel is a reference to the context of the 1950’s as patients were treated badly by being given by continuous shock therapy “Anointest my head with conductant. Do I get a crown of thorns?”. This creates a barrier to the outside world. The protagonist MacMurphy takes the patients on a trip in order to escape the clutches of Ratchet and allow the patients to bond with each other. “At some point in every ones lives, we need this support”
The symbolism of the fog hiding the misdeeds of the character thickens as MacMurphy is determined to provide a definitive sense of belong whether it be treating people with respect or more importantly providing a normal environment the allows an individual to explore his own sense of sexuality. In contrast with the film, the tragic demise of MacMurphy and the implied innuendo that only in breaking out of the institution can belonging ever be achievable. The smashing of the institution window “window with a ripping crash” symbolises the breakthrough of the barrier to the out side world. The challenge of true belonging is often difficult to attain due to the extraneous circumstances that impact on an individual’s existence and creates problems that can be sometimes overcome, but consecutively they also have to power to decimate the belonging in individuals.