One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Study Guide, Parts 2 and 3
Where does Nurse Ratched go after her outburst about the TV?
The Nurses’ Station
After what event does Bromden’s fog disappear?
After the World Series protest in front of the TV and Nurse Ratched’s outburst.
Why does Bromden fear that everyone knows that he is not really deaf?
He voted in the Ward Meeting about the World Series.
How does Ratched assert her power during the staff meeting?
She remains silent.
During the staff meeting after the World Series protest, what do the staff (other than Ratched) decide about McMurphy? What does Ratched think?
They decide 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.
What chore does Ratched assign to McMurphy?
What do patients start to do during group meetings?
Talk about their complaints about the ward rules
What does McMurphy learn from the lifeguard? What is his reaction?
He learns that someone who is committed to the hospital is released only at the discretion of the staff. He previously thought that he could leave at any time; due to this new knowledge, he acts more carefully around Ratched.
What events lead up to Cheswick drowning? Why is it possibly a suicide?
During a 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. It could be a suicide because of Cheswick’s demeanor and him feeling betrayed by McMurphy.
Who are Sefelt and Fredrickson? How does Ratched make an example of them? How does the situation affect McMurphy?
Sefelt and Fredrickson are epileptics in the ward. Frederickson always takes Sefelt’s medication, and Sefelt has a seizure. Ratched uses this as an example of why the patients must follow her rules. The situation greatly disturbs McMurphy, and begins to a “haggard, puzzled look of pressure” on his face.
How do Harding and his wife interact when she comes to 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.
Who says, “I’ve got worries of my own without getting hooked with yours. So just quit!”
After he learns about how Ratched can authorize electroshock and lobotomy for any patient she wants, why does McMurphy think the staff and patients didn’t encourage him to stop rebelling? What is Harding’s response?
He says that he now understands that they submit to Ratched 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.
What does Billy Bibbit tell McMurphy when McMurphy asks why he chooses to stay in the hospital?
Billy Bibbit begins to cry and shouts that he and the others are not as big, strong, and brave as McMurphy.
How does Ratched punish the patients for their World Series protest? How does McMurphy react?
She takes away the second game room. 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.
Why is Bromden responsible for cleaning the staff room during meetings?
Because the staff thinks he is deaf.
How well does McMurphy clean the latrines?
He does a miserable job at it, even going so far as to leave messages for the Nurse stuck in the toilet bowls.
What does Bromden imagine about the nurse with the strawberry-colored birth mark?
He imagines the nurse at home, trying to get rid of the mark by praying, and scrubbing at it with a wire brush, but it stays there in the end just the same.
How do the patients feel about McMurphy stopping rebelling and sticking up for them?
No one blames him for being cagey, because they know it’s the only way he has a chance of getting released.
Why doesn’t Sefelt take his medication?
He says it rots his gums and makes his teeth fall out.
Does McMurphy believe that things will change if Nurse Ratched leaves?
No. He realizes that it’s the system that’s behind everything, and tries to explain this to the other patients; how even if they got rid of the Big Nurse, things wouldn’t change.
During what events does Bromden hear ringing in his ears? What makes the ringing stop?
He hears ringing during the group meeting in which Ratched takes away the second game room. The ringing stops when McMurphy breaks the glass of the Nurse Station to get his cigarettes.
How does Nurse Ratched feel about her breasts?
She works hard to conceal them, suggesting that she is ashamed of them.
Who is Harding’s “counterpart and Nemesis?”
What is “frontal lobe castration?”
According to Harding, what is the history of electroshock therapy (EST)? Is it painful?
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 says it is not painful, but causes hallucinations.
Who says, “if Ratched can’t cut below the belt she’ll do it above the eyes”?
What does McMurphy propose as a “solution” for Ratched?
Are most patients committed voluntarily or involuntarily?
Voluntarily. The only involuntarily-committed patients are McMurphy, Scanlon, and some Chronics.
How do the aides “fix” the glass at the Nurse Station? What does Ratched do about it?
The aides put a piece of cardboard where McMurphy broke the glass, and Ratched continues to sit behind it as if it were transparent—she looks like “a picture turned to the wall.”
What is an Accompanied Pass? Why does McMurphy request one?
An Accompanied Pass is a permission to spend time outside the ward while attended by another person. McMurphy wants to leave the ward with a prostitute he knows from Portland, Candy Starr.
What does McMurphy do when Ratched rejects his request for an Accompanied Pass?
He shatters the replacement glass pane, claiming he did not know it had been replaced.
How does the Nurse Station glass break for the third time? What does Ratched do?
Scanlon accidentally smashes it with a basketball, which Ratched then throws away.
What memory shows the first time in a long time Bromden thought about his childhood? What makes him think about it?
He remembers that when he was ten, three people came to his home to talk to his father about buying the tribe’s land. When Bromden spoke to them, they acted like he had not said a word. Bromden thinks about it because he wants to sign up for the fishing trip, but cannot because he doesn’t want people to find out that he’s not deaf. He figures that he has to “keep acting deaf if [he] wanted to hear at all.”
Who grants McMurphy’s request to set up a fishing trip? How does Ratched react?
Doctor Spivey. Ratched pins newspaper clippings about rough weather and wrecked boats on the bulletin board.
Why does Bromden speak to McMurphy?
McMurphy gives Bromden some Juicy Fruit, and Bromden, before he can think of what he is doing, thanks him.
How does McMurphy relate to Bromden pretending to be deaf? What is Bromden’s response?
McMurphy tells him that when he was a boy, he took a job picking beans. The adults ignored him, so McMurphy silently listened to their malicious gossip all summer. At the end of the season, he told everyone what the others said in their absence, creating havoc. Bromden replies that he is too little to do something bold like that.
Who are the “aunts” accompanying the patients on the fishing trips?
What deal does McMurphy make with Bromden?
He offers to pay Bromden’s share of the fishing trip fee if he promises to get strong enough to lift the control panel in the tub room.
What small scandal occurs about the cost of the boat rental? What happens?
Ratched discovers that McMurphy lied about the cost of the rental to make a profit off the other patients. She tries to use this information as part of her typical divide-and-conquer strategy, but the other patients do not seem to mind.
Who makes it possible for the patients to go on the fishing trip after Nurse Ratched says that they cannot go without a second driver?
Doctor Spivey; he and Candy drive the patients.
What happens at the gas station on the way to the fishing? What do the patients learn?
The gas attendant tries to take advantage of them. The patients learn from McMurphy that they can use their “insanity” as a source of power and to intimidate others.
What evidence does Bromden find of the Combine in the outside world?
The thousands of mechanized commuters, houses, and children.
Why won’t the captain of the boat allow the patients on? What does McMurphy do?
He won’t let them on because he does not have a signed waiver exonerating him should any accidents occur. To distract the captain of the boat, McMurphy gives him a phone number to call. When the captain goes to call, McMurphy herds the patients onto the boat. They are already out to sea by the time the captain realizes the number belongs to a brothel.
What do the patients do on the boat?
They catch large fish and get drunk.
What happens when the patients return to the dock from the fishing boat?
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 and everyone gets along.
On the way back from the fishing trip, what do the patients pass by?
The house where McMurphy grew up.
What is hanging in the tree in front of McMurphy’s old home?
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.
About what does Doctor Spivey first hold his ground against Nurse Ratched?
McMurphy gets together enough of the guys to start a basketball team, and talks Doctor Spivey into letting them bring a ball back to the ward. When Nurse Ratched objects, the doctor holds his ground.
Why does Ratched refuse to grant McMurphy an Accompanied Pass?
She says that his chaperon does not seem like a responsible woman.
What happens during the basketball game between the Acutes and the aides?
The Acutes lose by twenty points, but over the course of the game, McMurphy manages to provoke one of the black aides into trying to attack him, which makes it feel like a victory.
What is McMurphy’s demeanor after they pass his old house?
He seems exhausted and frantic.
What does Bromden tell McMurphy about his parents’ relationship?
His Native American father married a white woman and took her last name. He says that his mother was twice the size of his father, and that the Combine worked on his father for years, but his father fought it until his mother made him too little to fight anymore.