Study Guide

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

By Ken Kesey

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Part II, Chapter Six

  • Sometimes, the staff takes Chief on trips with the Acutes, like to the library. Chief looks at all the books, especially the technical books, which remind him of his year in college. He wants to open a book but he’s afraid.
  • One of the orderlies arrives with Harding’s wife, Vera. She blows the orderly a kiss, then starts to move (a.k.a. sway her hips) toward Harding.
  • Harding doesn’t move toward her but he looks around and realizes everybody’s watching.
  • He calls over to McMurphy to come meet his "nemesis."
  • McMurphy comes over to meet her and they sit down to talk about how McMurphy got the best of the Nurse Ratched.
  • As they talk, Harding begins to chide his wife for her bad grammar, which she resents.
  • Vera complains that Harding’s friends are always dropping by her house, which leads Harding to asks who they’re coming to see.
  • She says that any man who comes to see her flips around more than his own "limp wrists."
  • Then she leaves.
  • Harding asks what McMurphy thinks, which leads McMurphy to say that Vera’s got a pretty big "set of chabobs." But when Harding asks for opinions beyond his wife’s physical appearance, McMurphy gets mad.
  • McMurphy says he isn’t a marriage counselor. He clues in to the fact that Harding wants McMurphy’s sympathy, and to be all, "yeah, man, she’s a total monster." The problem is, McMurphy doesn’t think that Harding treated Vera well either, and he says so.
  • He finishes by telling everybody to leave him the hell alone. Then he walks back across the room to the other side.
  • All the Acutes are startled and confused by McMurphy’s outburst.
  • That night at dinner, McMurphy apologizes to Harding. He says it’s because he’s been having bad dreams all week. When Harding asks what he’s seeing in these dreams, McMurphy admits it’s just faces.
  • The next morning, a patient named Martini is playing with the control panel in the tub room while everybody else is gambling. Martini’s trying to turn the water on, but nothing comes out.
  • Suddenly, though, he jumps back as if he’s scared and asks McMurphy if he sees them.
  • McMurphy says he doesn’t see anything.
  • Martini persists. He didn’t see any of them?
  • McMurphy says no.
  • Martini claims he was just kidding—he didn’t see anything either.
  • McMurphy says he doesn’t care for that kind of kidding. Turning away from Martini, he goes back to shuffling the cards, only the cards spill out everywhere because his hands are trembling.

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