McMurphy: Now they're telling me I'm crazy over here 'cause I don't sit there like a goddamned vegetable. It don't make a bit of sense to me."
McMurphy thinks that society will stick the "crazy" label on anyone who thinks differently or is a free spirit like himself. Do you buy what he's selling? At times, McMurphy seems pretty sane. But we've also got to remember that the dude's a hardened criminal. And there are nicer ways to be a nonconformist than resorting to felony assault.
McMurphy: If that's what being crazy is, then I'm senseless, out of it, gone down the road, whacko.
McMurphy thinks that if having your own opinions and your own way of doing things is crazy, then he's totally loco. That's pretty much what this whole movie about: treating a guy like he's crazy just because he likes to live on his own terms. But on the flipside, there's gotta be a limit, right? If we let everyone live on their own terms, we'd have anarchy. And probably a lot of dead bodies and destroyed property.
McMurphy: Is that crazy enough for you? Want me to take a s*** on the floor?
Um, please don't. When the doctors express skepticism about McMurphy's craziness, McMurphy gets frustrated and asks them what they'd like him to do. Maybe if he acted crazier they'd be more satisfied. The whole thing seems pretty up in the air.
McMurphy: Candy, this is the boys.
Candy: You all crazy?
Well isn't she polite? We can forgive Candy for the somewhat rude question, though, because we love that Candy doesn't seem all that concerned when she meets the patients from the mental hospital. In fact, she's pretty open minded about the whole thing, and even finds it kind of cool that the men are insane If only everyone were this accepting…
Doctor: I think he's dangerous. He's not crazy, but he's dangerous.
There can be a thin line between a crazy person and a dangerous sane person, but the doctors at the mental hospital eventually decide that McMurphy is definitely not crazy. He just has issues with authority. And an unrelenting desire for crime.
McMurphy: What do you think you are, for Christ's sake? Crazy or something? Well you're not.
McMurphy nearly loses his mind when he finds out that many of his friends in the mental hospital are there voluntarily. He can't imagine why they would ever want to be stuck in the hospital, but many of them think it's the best place for them to be. One of the most interesting dilemmas in the movie is whether or not he's right. These men are clearly troubled, and were having trouble making it in the outside world. But they don't seem to be faring much better under Ratched's regime, either. Could it be that the movie is also trying to point out how ill equipped our society is to deal with people who don't fit our mold of sanity?
McMurphy: Jesus, I must be crazy to be in a loony bin like this.
McMurphy is constantly frustrated by life inside the mental hospital. It's not being confined that annoys him so much, but the total inability to get the other patients to understand what he's trying to say to them. We're not sure what he was expecting, though.
Nurse Ratched: So I'd like to keep him on the ward. I think we can help him.
When given the chance to get rid of McMurphy, Nurse Ratched insists that the hospital keep him around. She's not going to be satisfied until she wins the mental war against McMurphy and gets him to behave like a nice little boy.
Doctor: They think you've been faking it in order to get out of your work detail.
The head doctor at the mental hospital wonders if McMurphy is just faking craziness to get out of his work at the prison. If that's the case, then McMurphy is just a lazy (albeit crafty) dude and not crazy at all.
Doctor: Do you think there's anything wrong with your mind, really?
The doctor feels compelled to ask McMurphy whether he thinks there's anything wrong with his mind. But McMurphy insists that there's nothing at all wrong with his mind, apart from the fact that he likes to do things his own way. And what's wrong with that?