From the beginning of the novel Randle Patrick McMurphy resists being pushed through the hospital machine. He is an individual and he dies rather than surrender his right to be an individual. For many readers Randle McMurphy is the hero of this novel because he stood firmly against oppressive powers, showing courage and ultimately paying with his life.
One aspect of the novel that supports the point of view of McMurphy as hero is the novel’s celebratory and affirmative humour. The first description that Chief Bromden provides of McMurphy is one that stresses his capacity for powerful laughter:
He stands there waiting, and when nobody makes a move to say anything to him he commences to laugh. Nobody can tell exactly why he laughs; there’s nothing funny going on. But it’s not the way that Public Relation laughs, it’s free and loud and it comes out of his wide grinning mouth and spreads in rings bigger and bigger till it’s lapping against the walls all over the ward. Not like that fat Public Relation laugh. This sounds real. I realise all of a sudden it’s the first laugh I’ve heard in years.
There are many similar references to McMurphy’s liberating laughter throughout the novel so look out for them.