One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
by Ken Kesey
Character Role Analysis
Harding to McMurphy
Harding is contrasted to McMurphy in a couple of ways. He’s been in the ward longer and was the natural leader of the patients until McMurphy showed up. Harding, however, recognizes the power of Nurse Ratched in a way that McMurphy does not. Further, he is in the hospital voluntarily because he doesn’t want to be Outside—a major contrast to McMurphy, who’s aching to get loose. Though Harding enjoys McMurphy’s rebellion and urges him on, Harding himself cannot lead the rebellion, maybe in part because he knows what a man stands to lose when he goes up against Nurse Ratched.