Study Guide

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Part II, Chapter Eight

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Part II, Chapter Eight

  • Chief and McMurphy walk back to the ward together. Chief wants to tell him not to worry about it. He’s about to speak when McMurphy speeds up and joins an orderly to ask him if they can stop by the canteen.
  • Chief runs to catch up with McMurphy, which makes his heart pound.
  • In the canteen, Chief is still excited and impatient. His heartbeat makes ringing noise in his head.
  • McMurphy buys three cartons of cigarettes, explaining that he plans to do a lot of smoking.
  • At the afternoon group meeting, the topic of discussion is getting Sefelt to adjust to his problems.
  • Chief gets alarmed when he sees how McMurphy looks: reckless and excited. The ringing in his head continues.
  • Frederickson complains about their cigarettes being kept at the Nurses’ Station.
  • In the last few minutes of the meeting, Nurse Ratched speaks up. She and the doctor have decided that the men should be punished for refusing to do their house duties three weeks ago (when the men wanted to watch the World Series).
  • She continues lecturing, claiming that the rules and regulations in the asylum are carefully thought out and for the good of the patients. The rules help those who couldn’t adjust to the rules in the Outside World.
  • Nurse Ratched says that she’s taking away one of their privileges as punishment. After carefully thought, the staff has decided to take away the use of the tub room (the second day room the men have been playing cards in). Is this unfair, she asks?
  • One by one, each man looks at McMurphy. They look at him with a face full of hope.
  • He grins at everybody as Big Nurse starts to conclude the meeting.
  • Finally, Nurse Ratched looks over at McMurphy. He slaps both hands on his knees, stretches and yawns, and then walks across the day-room floor toward her.
  • The Big Nurse begins to look afraid. She hadn’t thought he’d actually do anything.
  • She looks around for the orderlies, but McMurphy stops before he reaches her. He says he thinks he could use one of those cigarettes he bought this morning. And then he smashes his hand through the glass into the Nurses’ Station.
  • He takes one out a pack of cigarettes and then returns to where the Big Nurse is sitting. He tenderly brushes the slivers of broken glass from her hat and shoulders.
  • He apologizes to Nurse Ratched, claiming that he completely forgot there was glass dividing the day room from the Nurses’ Station.
  • Then he walks away, leaving her sitting there.
  • The noise in Chief’s head finally stops.
  • We’re not even counting the score of the Ratched-McMurphy battle anymore. The situation has become really serious.

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