One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

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Fog Symbol Icon
Chief Bromden’s hallucinations are dominated by a thick, debilitating fog that only begins to wane with the arrival of Randle McMurphy to the psych ward. Bromden’s sees the world as becoming increasingly mechanized, and describes the greater society outside and including the ward as The Combine. This fog is symbolic of the waste that our mechanized society has created, and how it pollutes our ability to live naturally. Bromden literally feels as though he cannot see until the antithesis of mechanized control arrives to the ward: McMurphy, a man who looks to his instincts and natural desires for action.
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Fog Symbol Timeline in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

The timeline below shows where the symbol Fog appears in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part One
Sanity v. Insanity Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Human Dignity Theme Icon
The Combine: Machine, Nature, and Man Theme Icon
...and they put something on his temples he becomes hysterical and starts hallucinating a thick fog, cold snow coming down. Bromden can hear Nurse Ratched rushing towards him through the thick... (full context)
Sanity v. Insanity Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Human Dignity Theme Icon
The Combine: Machine, Nature, and Man Theme Icon
Bromden wakes in the dayroom as the fog is beginning to clear. He knows he wasn’t taken for shock therapy, but he mildly... (full context)
Institutional Control vs. Human Dignity Theme Icon
The Combine: Machine, Nature, and Man Theme Icon
...to either super fast or super slow. Bromden says the time-control only stops when the fog machine comes on, and you get lost in it. Bromden notes that the ward hasn’t... (full context)
Institutional Control vs. Human Dignity Theme Icon
The Combine: Machine, Nature, and Man Theme Icon
...not to lose his temper with staff, and that he doesn’t seem affected by the fog. (full context)
Sanity v. Insanity Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Human Dignity Theme Icon
The Combine: Machine, Nature, and Man Theme Icon
Emasculation and Sexuality Theme Icon
...place this nice. Bromden is finding it more and more difficult to see in the fog, but he believes the fog makes him feel safe. He thinks that McMurphy doesn’t understand... (full context)
Sanity v. Insanity Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Human Dignity Theme Icon
Social Pressure and Shame Theme Icon
The Combine: Machine, Nature, and Man Theme Icon
The group meeting begins and Bromden feels the fog starting to thicken in the room, which he believes Nurse Ratched turned on because she’s... (full context)
Part Two
Sanity v. Insanity Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Human Dignity Theme Icon
The Combine: Machine, Nature, and Man Theme Icon
...Ratched after her outburst while she sits in the nurse’s station. Bromden notes that the fog has disappeared. He remembers he’s supposed to clean the staff room during the staff meeting,... (full context)
Sanity v. Insanity Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Human Dignity Theme Icon
The Combine: Machine, Nature, and Man Theme Icon
...it does over everyone else. He says that for the first time in years the fog isn’t persistent, and he’s seeing people clearly. One night, for the first time in a... (full context)
Part Four
Sanity v. Insanity Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Human Dignity Theme Icon
The Combine: Machine, Nature, and Man Theme Icon
...inundated with childhood memories. When he wakes up, he is able to fight off the fog for the first time after having received shock therapy, and he knows that “this time... (full context)