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One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest


by Ken Kesey

Nurse Ratched (Big Nurse) Timeline and Summary

  • Nurse Ratched lets the orderlies know that they should take Chief in to be shaved before he has breakfast.
  • Nurse Ratched scolds McMurphy for not allowing the orderlies to take him for a shower and informs him that he’s expected to play by the rules while he’s on the ward.
  • Nurse Ratched leads the afternoon group discussion around to Harding’s problems with his wife.
  • On Monday, Nurse Ratched asks a junior nurse what she thinks of McMurphy. When the nurse responds that she thinks McMurphy wants to control things but doesn’t understand why he desires that, Nurse Ratched responds that this is an institution for the insane.
  • In the afternoon meeting, Big Nurse discusses McMurphy and his particular diagnosiscriminal and psychopathic behaviors.
  • Nurse Ratched confronts McMurphy in the hall because he is only wearing a towel. She is horrified when he suggests he’ll take the towel off. She only wants to know why he isn’t dressed in his hospital outfit.
  • Nurse Ratched tells McMurphy she can’t turn the music in the day room off because it would be unfair to the Chronics. She doesn’t want to start a second day room for the Acutes either because there aren’t enough staff to cover two rooms.
  • That afternoon, Nurse Ratched turns down the suggestion that they have a carnival, but she has to concede to extending the day room to the tub room.
  • Nurse Ratched entertains the idea of letting the men watch a baseball game on TV and takes it to a vote. When none of the Chronics vote for it, she says McMurphy didn’t get the majority vote he needed to win.
  • When Chief raises his hand to vote with the Acutes, Nurse Ratched won’t consider his vote because she says the meeting was closed and the vote was over.
  • The next day, when McMurphy goes over to the TV to watch baseball, she turns the TV off so that he has to watch a blank screen.
  • At the staff meeting, Nurse Ratched is silent when everybody discusses whether to send McMurphy up to the Disturbed Ward. The staff members think that’s what she wants. However, she decides that if they do that, it will be giving him too much power.
  • The afternoon meetings become a complaint free-for-all, but Nurse Ratched endures it, patiently biding her time.
  • Nurse Ratched is patient when Sefelt has an epileptic seizure. She knows he hasn’t been taking his medication.
  • Nurse Ratched suggests that the men should be punished for their rebellion. She doesn’t say a word when McMurphy puts his hand through the glass window of the Nurses’ Station in anger over her pettiness.
  • When the men decide go on a fishing trip, she reads them a lot of articles about how rough and dangerous the seas are, scaring most of them from going. But she can’t stop all of them.
  • When Candy shows up with a car that’s too small, Nurse Ratched suggests that the trip will have to be canceled.
  • Nurse Ratched makes the orderlies clean the men’s pubic areas after they come back from the fishing trip since they’ve been in the company of a prostitute.
  • When McMurphy and Chief get in a fight with an orderly to protect George, she sends them up to the Disturbed Ward.
  • Nurse Ratched recommends electroshock therapy but she tells McMurphy he can avoid it if he just admits he was wrong. He refuses so she sends him multiple times. He continues to refuse to admit he was wrong.
  • When Nurse Ratched catches the men after their ward party, she humiliates Billy until he commits suicide. Then she blames McMurphy and asks him when he will stop playing God with these men’s lives.
  • When McMurphy attacks her and tears her shirt open in front of the men, he reveals her weaknessshe’s a woman after all. Big breasts don’t lie.
  • Nurse Ratched has her revenge. While she is recovering from the attack, she arranges for McMurphy to have a lobotomy.