Study Guide

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Part 4, Chapter 1

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Part IV, Chapter One

  • Big Nurse has figured out how she can make all the men suspicious of McMurphy. All she has to do is ask them why he’s doing so much for them? What’s in it for him?
  • So she posts the patients’ financial doings over the past few months. It shows a drain of finances from all the Acutes except one—McMurphy.
  • The Acutes start joking with him about it and he brags that if he stays for a year, he’ll have enough money to retire to Florida the rest of his life.
  • And so they do start to get suspicious.
  • After they’d been wondering for about a week, Big Nurse brings it up in the afternoon meeting. She makes sure McMurphy isn’t at that meeting.
  • Nurse Ratched starts the meeting by saying she thinks the men would like to discuss Mr. Randle Patrick McMurphy without him there.
  • They start by telling funny stories about him. Then they start asking why he is the way he is— what makes him tick?
  • Nurse Ratched finally claims that the men are saying that McMurphy is crazy like a fox.
  • Billy Bibbit takes offense on McMurphy’s behalf.
  • Somebody explains that Nurse Ratched simply meant that McMurphy is nobody’s fool. Nurse Ratched adds that McMurphy isn’t one to do something for somebody unless he’s getting something out of it.
  • Then she tries to show how much money everybody’s lost to him because of gambling. He also benefited from the fishing trip, too, without spending a dime. Quite like a fox, she says.
  • Nurse Ratched stops Billy from complaining by saying she’s not criticizing the behavior. Then she moves on to another topic.
  • Later that day, a few of the Acutes (with Chief listening in) are standing around discussing the meeting, saying that Mack (McMurphy) really is still a good guy.
  • Harding jumps in and says that they’re protesting too much. He says that Nurse Ratched is clearly right because McMurphy has made a lot of money off of them from gambling, but they’ve all enjoyed the games. Why be dishonest about his motives?
  • Billy argues that when McMurphy taught him to dance, it wasn’t motivated by economic factors.
  • But then the other men remind Billy about how McMurphy made him send Candy twenty dollars to come down, even though it didn’t cost that much for gas. In other words, McMurphy was taking a cut. McMurphy also wanted Candy to bring him some liquor when she came.
  • Chief still thinks McMurphy is a giant that came out of the sky to save them all. He also appreciates the confidence that McMurphy instills in him. McMurphy even told Chief that he’s grow ten inches since the fishing trip.
  • McMurphy and Chief practice removing the tub room’s control panel—the one that McMurphy was unable to move himself. McMurphy again warns Chief not to tell anyone.
  • When McMurphy cons everybody into trying to lift the control panel again later, Chief thinks McMurphy might tell everybody how he’s helping Chief get his size back. Chief thinks that would prove McMurphy isn’t doing everything for the money. But McMurphy doesn’t say a thing.
  • McMurphy does arrange a bet that no man can lift the panel. Chief keeps hoping McMurphy isn’t going to use him to make money, but sure enough, after the meeting is over, he takes Chief into the room and show everybody that he can lift the panel. So McMurphy cons everybody out of their money.
  • When McMurphy tries to give Chief five dollars, Chief refuses to take it.
  • McMurphy begins to get the hint and he asks Chief to explain why everybody’s giving him the cold shoulder.
  • Chief tries to explain but all he gets out is that it isn’t supposed to be about winning things. McMurphy doesn’t understand him at all.
  • Chief thinks what happens in the shower room that afternoon is his fault.
  • The orderlies arrive, gathering Chief and others who went on the fishing trip for a special shower. Big Nurse said that because they’d been with a prostitute, they needed special cleaning so as not to contaminate the entire ward. Their pubic areas and rear ends are cleaned with a special gunky kind of salve (ew).
  • Everybody is joking and Frederickson actually farts when the orderly tries to clean him. But then they reach George. And that’s when the men realize why they’ve been wrong about McMurphy.
  • George never uses soap when he showers and he also never uses a towel that somebody hands to him. He had a thing about dirt. Everybody knows this, but everybody also knows that the orderly won’t pass up his chance.
  • George says no, none of the salve. The orderly pretends to wheedle, explaining that George might have bugs on him.
  • George insists he doesn’t have bugs.
  • The orderly continues to wheedle.
  • McMurphy tells the orderly to lay off.
  • The orderly continues to hassle George and then attack George with salve.
  • McMurphy wades right into the middle of it, telling the orderly to stop. As if he’s desperate to turn the orderly’s attention away from George, he calls the orderly a "coon" and a "n*****."
  • The orderly turns back to George. McMurphy shoves the orderly away from George and asks him again, with a quiet pleading tone, to stop messing with George.
  • The orderly says, "McMurphy, you forcing me to protect myself." Then he swings a punch right at McMurphy’s cheek.
  • It turns into a full-blown fight, with McMurphy quickly gaining the upper-hand. He’s beating the orderly up, who starts to curse the other two orderlies since they aren’t helping him out. So the other orderlies jump in to help him out.
  • Then Chief joins in the fistfight.
  • By the time Nurse Ratched and the other staff members arrive, the fight is over. McMurphy and Chief have won, and all of the men are congratulating them.
  • They’re still congratulating McMurphy and Chief when Big Nurse puts restraints on their wrists and takes them up to the Disturbed Ward.

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