Study Guide

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

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Part II, Chapter Two

  • Chief admits that although he’s worried, nothing seems to happen. McMurphy is just as hard on Nurse Ratched and the orderlies as always.
  • McMurphy’s assigned to clean out the bathrooms, and he personally thanks Nurse Ratched for giving him that job. But he doesn’t do much to actually clean them. When Big Nurse checks on his work, she takes a little compact mirror to look under the rims and says his work is outrageously bad.
  • In the afternoon, everybody lines up in front of the gray TV. Instead of watching the baseball game, they listen to McMurphy tell stories.
  • He’s so confident while telling his stories that Chief stops worrying. He thinks McMurphy must be strong enough to resist Nurse Ratched.
  • But Chief is also noticing all of McMurphy’s vulnerabilities—like how he paints beautiful pictures or how he got worried and upset one time over a letter he received.
  • Chief is also noticing that the fog machine seems to be turned off lately. He’s seeing all sorts of things differently.
  • One night Chief wakes up and, instead of seeing smoke and machinery and wires, he just sees the dorm. So he gets out of bed and goes to the window and, for the first time ever, notices that the hospital is out in the country. He smells the scent of fall and it reminds him of how he used to go hunting with his father.
  • He watches a dog outside until an orderly and a nurse come pull him away from the window.
  • Chief thinks about how the cross around Big Nurse's neck can’t keep the poison inside her from oozing out. She blames her inner poison on working with people like Chief.
  • While the nurse goes to get some medication for Chief, the orderly prepares him to get back in bed.

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