- 1 sparknotes one flew over the cuckoo's nest part 2
- 1.1 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Summary and Analysis of Part Two, Chapters 19-23
- 1.2 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
- 1.3 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Summary
- 1.4 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
- 1.5 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
- 1.6 One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
- 1.7 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: Metaphor Analysis
sparknotes one flew over the cuckoo's nest part 2
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Summary and Analysis of Part Two, Chapters 19-23
Sefelt, an epileptic, has a seizure during lunch because he refuses to take his medication. Sefelt has been giving his medication to Frederickson. McMurphy asks Frederickson why Sefelt refuses to take his medicine, Dilantin, and he answers that Dilantin makes one’s gums rot. The choice is between having his gums rot or having seizures. One of the boys removes two of Sefelt’s teeth as Scanlon mentions, “damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”
The clean, calculated movements of the ward resume as Nurse Ratched reassumes her complete control over the function and operation of the institution.
Chief Bromden goes with the Acutes to the library. One of the boys brings Harding’s wife into the library. She is as tall as he is and carries a black purse; her fingernails are blood red. Harding introduces McMurphy to his “counterpart and Nemesis.” Harding tells his wife, Vera, how McMurphy stood up to Nurse Ratched. She scolds her husband for making a mousy squeak when he laughs. This comment makes Harding nervous and jumpy. Vera then asks for a cigarette, and Harding tells her that the cigarettes have been rationed. This causes a fight between Harding and his wife; she asks whether he ever does have enough, and he asks her in return whether she is speaking symbolically.
McMurphy offers her a cigarette, and she leans forward to take it so that everyone can see down her blouse. Vera complains that Harding’s friends, “hoity-toity boys with the nice long hair combed so perfectly and the limp little wrists,” keep visiting the house to see him. She suddenly decides to leave. Harding asks McMurphy what he thinks of her, and he replies that she has breasts as big as Nurse Ratched’s. McMurphy gets angry when Harding asks for a more serious answer, telling Harding that he has worries of his own and does not want to deal with Harding’s. Later, McMurphy admits that he has been suffering from bad dreams over the past week.
Several weeks after the vote on the World Series, the patients are taken to another building to get chest X-rays for tuberculosis. McMurphy sees a room that is unmarked. He asks Harding what happens inside, and Harding tells him that the room is the Shock Shop. Although Harding says that they are witnessing the sunset of electroshock therapy (EST), Nurse Ratched is one of the few remaining advocates of it. Harding claims that EST is not always used for punitive means but “for a patient’s own good.”
Harding relates the history of EST. It came about when two psychiatrists were visiting a slaughterhouse and watched how a blow to the head would induce an epileptic convulsion in a cow, and they concluded that if a seizure could be induced in non-epileptics, great benefits might result. Harding claims that the process is painless, but the jolt sets off a wild carnival of images.
Harding also mentions lobotomy, which he calls “frontal lobe castration.” He says that if Ratched “can’t cut below the belt she’ll do it above the eyes.” McMurphy says that if Nurse Ratched is truly the patients’ problem, the solution is to throw her down and penetrate through her sexually repressive defenses. The other patients propose that McMurphy do the job.
McMurphy asks the other patients why they never told him that Nurse Ratched controls whether or not he can leave. Harding says that he forgot that McMurphy was committed involuntarily. Harding tells him that most of the patients are not committed involuntarily, just Scanlon and some of the Chronics. McMurphy asks why Billy is here if he does not have to be—he could be in a convertible “bird-dogging girls.” Billy claims that he is too weak to leave and likes it where he is. He then begins to cry as the scars on his wrist open and begin to bleed.
The other patients calm Billy as the patients return to the ward. Chief Bromden walks beside McMurphy and can tell that he is afflicted with some great worry. McMurphy asks Sam, one of the boys, if he can stop by the canteen to get cigarettes. At the canteen, McMurphy buys several cartons. During the meeting that afternoon, Nurse Ratched brings up their behavior several weeks ago. She claims that she waited too long to deal with it and give the men a chance to apologize. She claims that her discipline now is entirely for their own good. She is taking away tub room privileges. McMurphy says nothing. He stands up and walks with his normal swagger to the Nurses’ Station and punches the glass in order to get his cigarettes. He sarcastically says that the glass was so clean that he completely forgot it was there.
In Chapter Nineteen, Sefelt chooses not to take his medicine because it causes his gums to rot. This is not a psychosomatic fear; gum problems can be real side effects of the medicine. But because Sefelt refuses to take his medicine, he has seizures, ultimately causing him to lose teeth. Sefelt’s choice is thus between bad teeth or bad gums, as Scanlon puts it—”damned if you do and damned if you don’t.” This fatalism is a disappointing condition in the ward. What Scanlon fails to note is that the bad gums are a price to pay for the benefit of reducing seizures, while the bad teeth are tied to the extra troubles of the seizures. The choice should be easy—to take the medicine—but Sefelt chooses badly.
Chapter Twenty, just a paragraph long, marks the change in the ward after McMurphy gives up his struggle against Nurse Ratched. She once again reasserts her control over the rest of the patients, for McMurphy knows that to oppose her is to ensure that he will never leave the ward.
The confrontation between Harding and his wife in Chapter Twenty-One centers almost entirely around their sexual problems. Vera Harding is juxtaposed with Nurse Ratched. They are outwardly similar (especially in McMurphy’s eyes) because they both have large breasts, but while Big Nurse is repressed and cold, Vera Harding is imposing in her sexuality. Her blood-red fingernails are a complement and contrast to Nurse Ratched’s icy orange polish. Vera Harding intimidates her husband with her sexuality, leaning over to get a cigarette intentionally so that the other patients can see down her blouse. She goes on to complain about her husband’s inadequacies, which he perceives as a sexual metaphor, probably correctly. Vera additionally questions her husband’s sexual preference, mentioning the boys with “limp wrists” who visit their home—a stereotypical invocation of male homosexuality—who are Harding’s friends. Whether or not Harding is a closeted homosexual, Vera seems to be using this idea as a tactic to humiliate her husband by playing on his sexual anxieties.
McMurphy demonstrates some strain in this chapter as well. He seems to be weary of acting as the leader or authority figure for the men on the ward. If Cheswick might have caught a sense of this weariness, it becomes clearer when McMurphy refuses to give his appraisal of the problems between Harding and his wife. McMurphy is under some psychological strain, likely caused by worry that he will never be able to leave the institution.
Harding describes the processes of electroshock therapy and lobotomies in great detail in Chapter Twenty-Two, thus foreshadowing their use. He makes the important point that it is Nurse Ratched who uses these methods, even if they are becoming discredited. Though he notes that such treatment is not always for punitive means, he simultaneously suggests that these methods sometimes actually are used as punishment when Ratched is disobeyed. Harding also uses lobotomies as a metaphor for sexual crippling through “castration” of the frontal lobe. The conversation between McMurphy and Harding once again defines the opposition between McMurphy and Ratched in sexual terms. Nurse Ratched can use lobotomies as the equivalent of castration, while McMurphy suggests sex as the cure for Nurse Ratched’s repression and control. McMurphy also puts himself in the role of sexual liberator.
Billy Bibbit’s mother seems to control his actions, rendering him weak and at least symbolically impotent. There is a link between Mrs. Bibbit and Nurse Ratched; Billy claims that the two women are close friends. Nurse Ratched thus serves as a stand-in mother who can manipulate Billy Bibbit’s weaknesses and insecurities. This vulnerability will become important in future chapters.
When McMurphy realizes that most of the patients have made the choice to remain in the institution, he realizes that personal choice and fear of one’s problems in the outside world have put most of the inmates in the asylum. Only he and a small number are actually committed; the others remain under Nurse Ratched’s control out of fear or habit. This differentiates McMurphy from the other patients; he is sane because he uses his ability to make rational choices while the other patients are coded as insane through their refusal to take their chances out in the world.
Nurse Ratched has reasserted her control over the institution in Chapter Twenty-Three, again a mother or a warden who dominates the men. She speaks to them in utterly condescending terms, even referring to them as “boys” and treating them as children who cannot accept any sense of responsibility. Having treated these men with such great disrespect and taking away something of value to McMurphy, she triggers his anger. He responds with impudence. When he breaks the glass, this is the first physically aggressive action he takes against Nurse Ratched. This brings the confrontation between the two characters back to the fore, for McMurphy is aggressively acting out on behalf of the privileges of the patients. He is taking a risk in that the act will mean a longer stay in the institution, but at this moment his anger or rebellion is stronger than such a fear.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Summary
"Chief" Bromden, a schizophrenic Native American man who pretends to be deaf and dumb so that everybody will ignore him, narrates One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The novel begins the morning that a new "Admission," Randle McMurphy, is introduced to an insane asylum where Chief is the longest-residing patient. McMurphy is larger than life, intelligent, and observant. He stirs up the ward immediately by introducing friendly competition—gambling—and encouraging the men to rebel against the petty rules created and enforced by Nurse Ratched (often referred to as "Big Nurse").
McMurphy places a bet with the other men on the ward that he can break Nurse Ratched without a) getting sent to the Disturbed Ward, b) getting treated with electroshock therapy, or c) being lobotomized. Slowly, McMurphy undermines Nurse Ratched’s system of control while remaining Mr. Nice Guy. She’s no fool, however. What McMurphy doesn’t understand is that Nurse Ratched has a lot of control over the situation. Since he’s a patient in the asylum, she can keep him locked up as long as she wants. As long as he’s under her rule, she has the power to send him for electroshock therapy or a lobotomy. The question is simply whether she’ll utilize her power against him or not. When McMurphy figures this out, he steps back and begins to behave — but not for long.
Just when Nurse Ratched thinks she has the upper hand, McMurphy steps back up to the plate and challenges her authority again. This time, though, he goes too far. He sneaks two prostitutes into the ward, gets everybody drunk, and also breaks into the prescription drug cabinet.
After the incident, Nurse Ratched guilt-trips all the men back into her control. Speaking of going too far, Nurse Ratched goes way, way too far. She threatens one of the patients, Billy Bibbit, by saying she’ll tell his mother about his visit with a "cheap" woman. Bibbit panics, which demoralizes the other inmates. Bibbit suddenly commits suicide after reflecting on the shame that Big Nurse is about to bring down on his head.
Of course, Nurse Ratched blames McMurphy for Bibbit’s death, which McMurphy doesn’t take so well. In fact, he’s so angry that he shatters the glass over the nurse’s station for a second time. Then, in one of the biggest scenes in the novel, McMurphy tears Nurse Ratched's shirt off and reveals her breasts. Why’s this move so important? Well, McMurphy has proved that the Big Nurse is "only" a woman: in the 1960s women were considered the "weaker sex" by men, and therefore less powerful than men on the ward. McMurphy also mangles Nurse Ratched physically, choking her badly.
The momentum of the crazy situation allows Nurse Ratched to send McMurphy upstairs for a lobotomy. When McMurphy returns to the ward, he’s a vegetable. Chief realizes he can’t let McMurphy suffer for years in the prison of his body. That night, he smothers McMurphy to death. Chief then escapes from the hospital after breaking a window. His getaway is only possible because of McMurphy, who previously had taught Chief how to lift a heavy panel in the tub-room and break the windows. Chief reaches the highway, where he catches a ride with a Mexican guy and heads to Canada and freedom.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
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While on the boat, everyone catches large fish and gets drunk. When they return to the dock, the captain is waiting with some policemen. The doctor threatens to inform the authorities that the captain did not provide enough life jackets, so the policemen leave without arresting anyone. After a short fistfight, McMurphy and the captain have a drink together. The men on the dock are friendly with the patients when they see their impressive catches and after they learn that George is a retired fisherman. Billy is infatuated with Candy; when McMurphy notices this, he arranges a date for them at two in the morning two weeks later, on a Saturday night.
Everyone is in high spirits when they return to the ward, but McMurphy seems pale and exhausted. They had taken a detour to pass by an old, run-down house where McMurphy lived as a child. Caught in a tree branch was an old rag, a remnant from the first time he had sex, as a ten-year-old with a girl who was perhaps even younger than he. She gave him her dress to keep as a reminder, and he threw it out the window, where it caught in a tree branch and remained to this day. Bromden remembers seeing his face reflected in the windshield afterward and remarks how it looked “dreadfully tired and strained and frantic, like there was not enough time left for something he had to do.”
McMurphy’s rebellion grows more overt as the patients begin to defy Ratched on their own terms. McMurphy still maintains a somewhat humorous edge to his resistance, as his request for an Accompanied Pass demonstrates. By asking to be let out for a day to consort with a prostitute, McMurphy both asserts his sexuality and reminds Ratched that she has failed to emotionally castrate him. By gaining Spivey’s approval for the fishing trip, McMurphy demonstrates to Ratched that he does not deem her the highest authority on the ward. Nurse Ratched can only resist his growing influence by trying in vain to frighten the other patients with the newspaper clippings, which fail to suppress them and their newfound individual thinking.
Meanwhile, Bromden begins to attain greater self-knowledge through McMurphy’s influence. He remembers the racist government agents coming to his house, and he realizes the origin of his sense of inadequacy and invisibility. Bromden feels himself becoming stronger as he talks to McMurphy and slowly becomes a man in his own eyes. McMurphy’s offer of Juicy Fruit to Bromden illustrates the value of good relationships between the patients, and Bromden’s decision to speak demonstrates the extent to which goodwill has helped to heal his wounds.
In contrast, Geever’s discovery of Bromden’s gum is a reminder that the hospital continues to function like a totalitarian state. The patients are still subject to strict supervision and the invasion of their privacy. Once faced with the conniving Geever, Bromden knows that McMurphy will keep his most precious secret: that he is not deaf and dumb. McMurphy’s own childhood experience of playing mute shows that the two of them are more similar than they might appear.
McMurphy’s own program of therapy for the other patients involves reviving their faith in their sexuality. He notes, jokingly, that Bromden’s erection is proof that he is getting bigger already. McMurphy presents the patients with a woman who can reawaken their repressed sex drives; the pretty Candy Starr, unlike Nurse Ratched, exudes sexuality. McMurphy seems to recognize that the patients, Billy in particular, can become individual, powerful men only if they can experience sexual feelings without the sense of shame that Ratched and the rest of the ward seem to inculcate.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
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The tables are turned in the ward as everyone watches Ratched in the glassed-in Nurses’ Station after her outburst. She cannot escape the patients’ stares, just as they can never escape hers. Ratched strains to regain composure for the staff meeting she called. Bromden says the fog is completely gone now. He always cleans the staff room during meetings, but after his vote, he fears that everyone will realize that he is not really deaf. He goes anyway, knowing that Ratched is suspicious of him. Doctor Spivey attempts to get the meeting started while Ratched uses silence to assert her power. The staff, misreading Ratched’s silence as approval, decides that McMurphy is potentially violent and should be sent to the Disturbed ward. Ratched disagrees; she declares instead that McMurphy is an ordinary man, subject to the same fears and timidity as the others. Since McMurphy is committed, Ratched knows she can control how long he spends in the hospital, and she decides to take her time with him.
Ratched assigns McMurphy the chore of cleaning the latrines, but he continues to nettle her in every way possible. Bromden marvels that the Combine has not broken him. One night, he wakes up and looks out the window and gazes in wonder at the countryside. Bromden observes a dog sniffing around the building and a flock of geese flying overhead. He watches as the dog runs toward the highway, where the headlights of an oncoming car are visible. During the Group Meetings, the patients begin to air their long-silent complaints about the rules.
The ward is taken to the hospital’s pool to swim. McMurphy learns from the patient serving as the lifeguard that someone who is committed to the hospital is released only at the discretion of the staff. McMurphy had believed he could leave as soon as he served the time remaining on his work farm sentence. Cowed by his new knowledge, he behaves more conservatively around Ratched. During the next Group Meeting, Cheswick brings up the problem of cigarette rationing, but McMurphy does not support him. Ratched sends Cheswick to Disturbed for a while. After he returns, on the way to the pool, Cheswick tells McMurphy that he understands why McMurphy no longer rebels against Ratched. That day, Cheswick’s fingers get stuck in the pool’s drain and he drowns in what is possibly a suicide.
Sefelt, who has epilepsy, has a seizure on the floor. Fredrickson, also an epileptic, always takes Sefelt’s medication. Ratched takes the opportunity to demonstrate the importance of following her advice and not “acting foolish.” McMurphy, who has never seen an epileptic seizure, is very disturbed by the whole scenario. Bromden notes that McMurphy is beginning to get a “haggard, puzzled look of pressure” on his face.
Harding’s wife comes for a brief visit. Harding mocks her poor grammar, and she says she wishes his limp-wristed friends would stop coming to their house to ask about him. After she leaves, McMurphy angrily erupts when Harding asks for his opinion of her, saying, “I9rsquo;ve got worries of my own without getting hooked with yours. So just quit!” The patients are then taken to get chest X rays for TB, and McMurphy learns that Ratched can send anyone she wants for electroshock therapy and even a lobotomy in some cases, despite the fact that both practices are outdated. McMurphy tells the other patients that he knows now why they encouraged his rebellion without informing him about the consequences. He now understands that they submit to her not only because she is able to authorize these treatments, but also because she determines when they can leave the hospital. Harding informs him that, to the contrary, Scanlon is the only Acute aside from McMurphy who is committed. The rest of the Acutes are in the hospital voluntarily and could leave whenever they chose. McMurphy, completely perplexed, asks Billy Bibbit why he chooses to stay when he could be outside driving a convertible and romancing pretty girls. Billy Bibbit begins to cry and shouts that he and the others are not as big, strong, and brave as McMurphy.
McMurphy buys three cartons of cigarettes at the canteen. After the Group Meeting, Ratched announces that she and Doctor Spivey think the patients should be punished for their insubordination against the cleaning schedule a few weeks before. Since they did not apologize or show any remorse, she and Spivey have decided to take away the second game room. Everyone, including the Chronics, turns to see how McMurphy reacts. McMurphy smiles and tips his hat. Ratched thinks that she has regained control, but, after the meeting, McMurphy calmly walks to the glass-enclosed Nurses’ Station where she is sitting. He says that he wants some of his cigarettes and punches his hand through the glass. He claims that the glass was so spotless that he forgot it was even there.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
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What the fuck did this have to do with birds anyway
One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest is a factual novel by Ken Kesey. Its main character is a very tall Indian hired by the Indian Mafia, and although he was not the tallest mobster in the world, he was the tallest mobster in Sequim, Washington. The book was endorsed by the APA as part of their scared sane program.
Amazed by the fact that the book was about a tall Indian, some people decided to make a movie based on the book. Jack Nicholson plays the most important character, and his name in the movie is probably John or Michael or something along those lines. There is also an Indian there but his name is unknown as he doesn't talk so he can't introduce himself.
The plot of the movie is mainly like this: The Joker (played by Jack Nicholson) comes to a mental institution and the very tall Indian is already there. Jack tries to say "hi" to the Indian, but the Indian can't respond because he can't talk. After that Jack gets very angry at the Indian and does a lot of crazy things to punish the Indian. He steals a bus and drives off with all the people there and he even invites some girls to go along. The Indian is of course not invited. Then he jumps on the Indian and sits on him for a while and makes the Indian run around. After that the Indian tells Jack that he can in fact talk. Then the crazy thing happens. The Indian simply kills him as some sort of revenge! Following that the Indian runs away and there the story ends.
Oh yes there are themes in this novel. The first is birds, obviously, which is a reoccurring motif throughout the book, starting with the title, and is mentioned a total of one other time in the book, where the tall Indian decides the motif is fast becoming non-reoccurring. He then decides to add geese into the mix by mentioning how his (sane) dad taped his dead grandma to a tree and scared off some nosy white people by talking about geese that didn't exist. As if there weren't enough only-once-mentioned-in-the-entire-novel characters in that section, another character is introduced to simply laugh at the geese. that still don't exist.
Females is the second, because a lot of women have a lot to say against this book, because of the absence of insane women in the crazy house, except the nurse who has really big breasts that become a reoccurring motif throughout the book, when the character who is The Joker-but-not persistently questions her about her bra size and gets no reply. He eventually lets curiosity get the better of him and rips her shirt off, and although everyone is certain she would have appreciated the little lace number he picked out for her, being the tease she is, she gets him back for his public display of affection by cheekily lopping his brain off while he sleeps. It turns out Nicholson was only ever a figment of the Indians imagination that the staff pantomimed the medical torture of as part of his treatment. After smothering his imaginary friend with a pillow the tall Indian is now officially sane; with nothing left to tie him there, he busts down the wall of the institute by throwing a sink, like he was Kool-aid man on PCP, and walks away.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: Metaphor Analysis
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The central metaphor of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is that of the machine. The metaphor is introduced early in the novel, through the character of Bromden, and it recurs at regular points throughout. Bromden sees society as a giant machine, which he calls the Combine, and he sees the same machine at work in the hospital. He describes the Big Nurse in machine-like terms. In the first chapter, as he sees her approaching the black boys, “she blows up bigger and bigger, big as a tractor, so big I can smell the machinery inside the way you smell a motor pulling too big a load” (p. 5). When he describes her physical appearance, it is in terms that apply to machines: her gestures are “precise, automatic” and “Her face is smooth, calculated, and precision-made. (p. 5).” But he also comments on her large breasts and regards them as a “mistake . . . made in manufacturing,” which she resents because they are a mark of femininity.
The machine-like Combine tries to make machines out of everything, including humans. Bromden dreams that the hospital workers are killing Blastic, one of the patients referred to as a Vegetable. When they cut him up, there is nothing human inside him. Instead, Bromden sees “a shower of rust and ashes, and now and again a piece of wire and glass” (p. 85). The Combine has done its work on him. (Significantly, Blastic dies the very night that Bromden dreams of him.)
The turning of people into machines reaches to the level of language and ideas as well. People who have been “processed9rdquo; by society no longer have any ability to understand anything that doesn’t fit what they have been programmed to hear. When Bromden recalls the incident in which the three government agents wanted to buy his father’s land, he remembers they were incapable of hearing any of the things he said to them. He describes their thought-processes in terms of machines. He can see the
seams where they’re put together. And, almost, see the apparatus inside them take the words I just said and try to fit the words in here and there, this place and that, and when they find the words don’t have any place ready-made where they’ll fit, the machinery disposes of the words like they weren’t even spoken (p. 201).
As the novel progresses, it becomes clear that McMurphy is to be regarded as a Christ-figure. There are foreshadowings of this early in the novel in the patient Ellis, who received EST and is now nailed to the wall with his arms stretched out, as if he were being crucified (this is how Bromden sees him). It is Ellis who says to Billy Bibbit, as the men are about to set out for the fishing trip, to be a “fisher of men” (p. 222), which is what Christ said to the fisherman Peter when he called Peter to be his disciple. The table which is used for the EST treatments is shaped like a cross, which suggests the crucifixion of Christ. McMurphy takes twelve people with him on the trip, just as Christ had twelve disciples, and he chooses to see out his mission to free the patients from their slavery to the hospital, even at the expense of his own safety. (For other examples of Christian symbolism, see the Analysis sections that follow the Plot Summaries.)