Study Guide

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

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Part IV, Chapter Two

  • When they get to Disturbed Ward, McMurphy is aiming to be top dog. He begins by asking who is the person who runs the poker game on this ward.
  • Then he tells the patients that he and Chief busted up some "greasemonkeys" downstairs and that’s why they’re here.
  • Chief’s now in pain from having fallen in the shower during the fight. He doesn’t show it, though.
  • A nurse unlocks their cuffs, gives McMurphy a cigarette and Chief some gum. ("I remember you chewed gum," she says.) Then she asks about the fight—whom they fought and whether anybody was hurt.
  • The nurse basically apologizes to Chief and McMurphy for the treatment they’ve gotten in Nurse Ratched’s ward. She calls the nurses in the regular ward "Army nurses" and says that they’re a little sick themselves. She even goes so far as to say that she thinks unmarried nurses over 35 years old should be fired. (Nurse Ratched is around 50 years old.)
  • McMurphy wants to know how long they’ll be in the Disturbed Ward. The nurse answers, "Not very long. I’m afraid […] No, you probably won’t be very long—I mean—like you are now." That’s a scary bit of foreshadowing implying that something bad is going to happen.
  • In the morning, both Chief and McMurphy are stiff and hurting from the fight.
  • At the Nurses’ Station, a nurse tries to give both of them the red pills—the knockout pills. They both refuse them and she says she’ll have to call to find out if that’s OK.
  • McMurphy apologizes to Chief that he got him into trouble.
  • Big Nurse herself soon arrives, along with a couple of the orderlies that they fought. One of them has his arm in a sling and the other has tape on his nose.
  • She talks to McMurphy, asking him if he’s ashamed that he had a tantrum like a big baby.
  • Nurse Ratched tells him that at group meeting yesterday, the patients and nurses together agreed that he should receive some shock therapy unless he admits his mistakes.
  • McMurphy asks if he needs to sign a paper and she says only if he thinks that’s necessary. He does think that’s necessary, and that she should also add a few things on the paper, too, while she’s at it—like how he’s part of a plot to overthrow the government. Yes siree, he says, the Chinese Commies could learn a thing or two from you.
  • Then he gets up and walks away from her.
  • Three aides walk them over to the Main Building. There’s frost on the ground but Chief feels that frost "in my belly."
  • Chief decides he won’t cry or yell with McMurphy there.
  • They watch as one group goes in for electrotherapy. They watch as the group comes out.
  • Chief watches as McMurphy is strapped in. McMurphy is trying to be brave for Chief’s sake. He’s winking at Chief and telling him not to holler. And then they zap him.
  • It’s Chief’s turn next.
  • Being shocked takes Chief back to a memory of hunting with his father. He remembers talking with his father about why they took his mother’s name, Bromden, because it made being part of white society easier. He remembers a game he used to play with his grandmother, a children’s game. Tingle Tingle Tangle Toes. He remembers seeing his grandmother stone-cold dead. He thinks about that children’s rhyme—"one flew east, one flew west."
  • He wonders how they got to him with the machine again.
  • He wonders how McMurphy made him big again.
  • The orderlies are out there, peeing on him. He knows they’ll come in and accuse him of soaking all the sheets.
  • He stands up slowly. His pillows on the floor of the Seclusion Room are soaked with pee.
  • He tries to clear his mind—it’s the first time he’s ever worked to bring himself back to consciousness.
  • He taps on the window and realizes that this time, he has beat them.

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