One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Laws and Order Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"Aide Williams tells me, Mr. McMurry, that you've been somewhat difficult about your admission shower. Is this true? Please understand, I appreciate the way you've taken it upon yourself to orient with the other patients on the ward, but everything in its own good time, Mr. McMurry. I'm sorry to interrupt you and Mr. Bromden, but you do understand: everyone ... must follow the rules."
He tips his head back and gives that wink that she isn't fooling him any more than I did, that he's onto her. He looks up at her with one eye for a minute.
"Ya know, ma'am," he says, "ya know-that is the ex-act thing somebody always tells me about the rules ..."
He grins. They both smile back and forth at each other, sizing each other up.
"... just when they figure I'm about to do the dead opposite." (1.3.60-64)
Big Nurse and McMurphy size each other up.
So after the nurse gets her staff, efficiency locks the ward like a watchman's clock. Everything the guys think and say and do is all worked out months in advance, based on the little notes the nurse makes during the day. This is typed and fed into the machine I hear humming behind the steel door in the rear of the Nurses' Station. A number of Order Daily Cards are returned, punched with a pattern of little square holes. At the beginning of each day the properly dated OD card is inserted in a slot in the steel door and the walls hum up: Lights flash on in the dorm at six-thirty: the Acutes up out of bed quick as the black boys can prod them out, get them to work buffing the floor, emptying ash trays, polishing the scratch marks off the wall where one old fellow shorted out a day ago, went down in an awful twist of smoke and smell of burned rubber. The Wheelers swing dead log legs out on the floor and wait like seated statues for somebody to roll chairs in to them. The Vegetables piss the bed, activating an electric shock and buzzer, rolls them off on the tile where the black boys can hose them down and get them in clean greens. ... Six-forty-five the shavers buzz and the Acutes line up in alphabetical order at the mirrors, A, B, C, D.
Seven o'clock the mess hall opens….
Seven-thirty back to the day room. (1.4.20-25)
Chief explains the precision that the daily schedule and routine is carried out. As we discover later, this daily routine is the main method for keeping order and maintaining control.
He [McMurphy] gets seconds on everything and makes a date with the girl pours coffee in the kitchen for when he gets discharged, and he compliments the Negro cook on sunnysiding the best eggs he ever ate. There's bananas for the corn flakes, and he gets a handful, tells the black boy that he'll filch him one 'cause he looks so starved, and the black boy shifts his eyes to look down the hall to where the nurse is sitting in her glass case, and says it ain't allowed for the help to eat with the patients.
"Against ward policy?"
"Tough luck"-and peels three bananas right under the black boy's nose and eats one after the other, tells the boy that any time you want one snuck outa the mess hall for you, Sam, you just give the word.
When McMurphy finishes his last banana he slaps his belly and gets up and heads for the door, and the big black boy blocks the door and tells him the rule that patients sit in the mess hall till they all leave at seven-thirty. McMurphy stares at him like he can't believe he's hearing right, then turns and looks at Harding. Harding nods his head, so McMurphy shrugs and goes back to his chair. "I sure don't want to go against that goddamned policy." (1.9.8-12)
Though he pretends to be conforming to the rules, McMurphy consistently rebels against them.