One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Quotes
Terms in this set (76)
... one flew east, one flew west,
One flew over the cuckoo's nest.
—Children's folk rhyme
Three geese in a flock.
One flew east, one flew west,
One flew over the cuckoo's nest.
O-U-T spells OUT,
Goose swoops down and plucks you out.
This is a story of division, direction, and escape; that's what I get from this epigraph.
They laugh and then I hear them mumbling behind me, heads close together. Hum of black machinery, humming hate and death and other hospital secrets. They don't bother not talking out loud about their hate secrets when I'm nearby because they think I'm deaf and dumb. Everybody thinks so. I'm cagey enough to fool them that much. If my being half Indian ever helped me in any way in this dirty life, it helped me being cagey, helped me all these years.
There is a representation of machinery with the people. This insinuates that the people around are like machines -- bog-like and menacing -- working to the same instruction of thought that they have been going by.
She goes into a crouch and advances on where they're trapped in a huddle at the end of the corridor. She knows what they been saying, and I can see she's furious clean out of control. She's going to tear the black bastards limb from limb, she's so furious. She's
swelling up, swells till her back's splitting out the white uniform and she's let her arms section out long enough to wrap around the three of them five, six times. She looks around her with a swivel of her huge head. Nobody up to see, just old Broom Bromden the half-breed Indian back there hiding behind his mop and can't talk to call for help. So she really lets herself go and her painted smile twists, stretches to an open snarl, and she blows up bigger and bigger, big as a tractor, so big I can smell the machinery inside the way you smell a motor pulling too big a load. I hold my breath and figure, My God this time they're gonna do it! This time they let the hate build up too high and
overloaded and they're gonna tear one another to pieces before they realize what they're doing!
The nurse is the big machine. Machinery on occasion has its errors and dismantles the hard metal that works it. Chief Bromden stays almost ominicent to the work, so this is in the view of the detached world; it is an opinion on the reality that one sees.
By the time the patients get their eyes rubbed to where they can halfway see what the racket's about, all they see is the head nurse, smiling and calm and cold as usual, telling the black boys they'd best not stand in a group gossiping when it is Monday morning and there is such a lot to get done on the first morning of the week. ...
The head nurse is duplicitous. One layer is the calm and porcelain facade and the other is the hoard of sparking wires and overworked cogs.
I hide in the mop closet and listen, my heart beating in the dark, and I try to keep from getting scared, try to get my thoughts off someplace else—try to think back and remember things about the village and the big Columbia River, think about ah one time Papa and me were hunting birds in a stand of cedar trees near The Dalles. ... But like always when I try to place my thoughts in the past and hide there, the fear close at hand seeps in through the memory. I can feel that least black boy out there coming up the hall, smelling out for my fear. He opens out his nostrils like black funnels,
his outsized head bobbing this way and that as he sniffs, and he sucks in fear from all over the ward.
He's smelling me now, I can hear him snort. He don't know where I'm hid, but he's smelling and he's hunting around. I try to keep still. ...
He believes that people are out to get him. He comes from a natural, serene place and the mechanics of the place where he is in are wired and constructed, making an unnatural state of ambiance where he is afraid.
(A bluetick hound bays out there in the fog, running scared and lost because he can't see. No tracks on the ground but the ones he's making, and he sniffs in every direction with his cold red-rubber nose and picks up no scent but his own fear, fear burning down into him like steam.) It's gonna burn me just that way, finally telling about all this, about the hospital, and her, and the guys—and about McMurphy. I been silent so long now it's gonna roar out of me like floodwaters and you think the guy telling this is ranting and raving my God; you think this is too horrible to have really happened, this is too awful to be the truth! But, please. It's still hard for me to have a clear mind thinking on it. But it's the truth even if it didn't happen.
He is not in complete awareness of the transition between imagination and reality. In one he wishes to find the same peace he once had, another strays him from direction, and in the present one he feels captive to punishment and fear and disorientation.
"Yessir, that's what I came to this establishment for, to bring you birds fun an' entertainment around the gamin' table. Nobody left in that Pendleton Work Farm to make my days interesting any more, so I requested a transfer, ya see. Needed some new blood. Hooee, look at the way this bird holds his cards, showin' to everybody in a block; man! I'll trim you babies like little lambs."
Birds! Where will each fly? So far McMurphy just flew in over the cuckoo's nest. He has power, knowledge, and guts to come in boisterously.
"What happened, you see, was I got in a couple of hassles at the work farm, to tell the pure truth, and the court ruled  that I'm a psychopath. And do you think I'm gonna argue with the court? Shoo, you can bet your bottom dollar I don't. If it gets me outta those damned pea fields I'll be whatever their little heart desires, be it psychopath or mad dog or werewolf, because I don't care if I never see another weedin' hoe to my dying day. Now they tell me a psychopath's a guy fights too much and ****
too much, but they ain't wholly right, do you think? I mean, whoever heard tell of a man gettin' too much poozle? Hello, buddy, what do they call you? My name's McMurphy and I'll bet you two dollars here and now that you can't tell me how many spots are in that pinochle hand you're holding don't look. Two dollars; what d'ya say?
*******, Sam! can't you wait half a minute to prod me with that damn thermometer of yours?"
There're sides to this; he's either insane or playing insane to escape the life he has outside.
They spy on each other. Sometimes one man says something about himself that he didn't aim to let slip, and one of his buddies at the table where he said it yawns and gets up and sidles over to the big log book by the Nurses' Station and writes down the piece of information he heard—of therapeutic interest to the whole ward, is what the Big Nurse says the book is for, but I know she's just waiting to get enough evidence to have some guy reconditioned at the Main Building,
overhauled in the head to straighten out the trouble.
The guy that wrote the piece of information in the log book, he gets a star by his name on the roll and gets to sleep late the next day.
The nurse runs a rig of letting one another reveal things about one another, almost letting there be no peace or trust between people. It wouldn't let anyone trust if everyone is out for everyone for a small incentive. The therapy of getting information is understandable but letting each attack one another is not the best.
One side of the room younger patients, known as Acutes because the doctors figure them still sick enough to be fixed, practice arm wrestling and card tricks where you add and subtract and count down so many and it's a certain card.
It's about what is believed, even if it is acutely possible for them to be fine.
Across the room from the Acutes are the culls of the Combine's product, the Chronics. Not in the hospital, these, to get fixed, but just to keep them from walking around the streets giving the product a bad name. Chronics are in for good, the staff concedes. Chronics are divided into Walkers like me, can still get around if you keep them fed, and Wheelers and Vegetables. What the Chronics are—or most of us—are machines with flaws inside that can't be repaired, flaws born in, or flaws beat in over so many years of the guy running head-on into solid things that by the time the hospital
found him he was bleeding rust in some vacant lot.
These people are left in here because they couldn't fix them. Again, there is a machine metaphor for people, except that these are the machines where wires are loose, cogs don't revolve correctly, and there's no fix now.
Ellis is a Chronic  came in an Acute and got fouled up bad when they overloaded him in that filthy brain-murdering room that the black boys call the "Shock Shop." Now he's nailed against the wall in the same condition they lifted him off the table for the last time, in the same shape, arms out, palms cupped, with the same horror on his face. He's nailed like that on the wall, like a stuffed trophy. They pull the nails when it's time to eat or time to drive him in to bed when they want him to move so's I can mop the puddle where
he stands. At the old place he stood so long in one spot the piss ate the floor and beams away under
him and he kept falling through to the ward below, giving them all kinds of census headaches down
there when roll check came around.
He's put up there almost as a warning. Plus, the image is reminiscent of a disturbed crucifix; arms out, nailed, and horror in the face. It's almost brutal what Chief Bromden sees.
And they brought him back to the ward two weeks later, bald and the front of his face an oily purple bruise and two little button-sized plugs stitched one above each eye. You can see by his eyes how they burned him out over there; his eyes are all smoked up and gray and deserted inside like blown fuses. All day now he won't do a thing but hold an old photograph up in front of that burned-out face, turning it over and over in his cold fingers, and the picture wore gray as his eyes on
both sides with all his handling till you can't tell any more what it used to be.
The ward truly destroys people in an attempt to fix them. The ward isn't good enough to repair the ticks.
But I know it isn't the stink that keeps them away from the Chronic side so much as they don't like to be reminded that here's what could happen to them someday. The Big Nurse recognizes this fear and knows how to put it to use; she'll point out to an Acute, whenever he goes into a sulk, that you boys be good boys and cooperate with the staff policy which is engineered for your cure, or you'll end up over on that side.
Statement proved: people are used as warnings.
"Then you tell Bull Goose Loony Harding that R. P. McMurphy is waiting to see him and that this hospital ain't big enough for the two of us. I'm accustomed to being top man. I been a bull goose catskinner for every gyppo logging operation in the Northwest and bull goose gambler all the way from Korea, was even bull goose pea weeder on that pea farm at Pendleton—so I figure if I'm bound to be a loony, then I'm bound to be a stompdown dadgum good one. Tell this Harding that
he either meets me man to man or he's a yaller skunk and better be outta town by sunset."
He is a dedicated man. Will he play his part well or will he lose the bet he made to himself?
He says he's a dedicated man. He says he was just a wanderer and logging bum before the Army took him and taught him what his natural bent was; just like they taught some men to goldbrick and some men to goof off, he says, they taught him to play poker. Since then he's settled down and devoted himself to gambling on all levels. Just play poker and stay single and live where and how he wants to, if people would let him, he says,
"but you know how society persecutes a dedicated man. Ever since I found my callin' I done time in so many small-town jails I could write a brochure. They say I'm  a habitual hassler. Like I fight some. Sheeut. They didn't mind so much when I was a dumb logger and got into a hassle; that's excusable, they say, that's a hard-workin' feller blowing off steam, they say. But if you're a gambler, if they know you to get up a back-room game now and then, all you have to do is spit slantwise and you're a *******ed criminal. Hooee, it was breaking up the budget drivin' me to and from the
pokey for a while there."
There it is.
Nobody can make out what he's driving at, or why he's  making such a fuss with meeting everybody, but it's better'n mixing jigsaw puzzles. He keeps saying it's a necessary thing to get around and meet the men he'll be dealing with, part of a gambler's job. But he must know he ain't going to be dealing with no eighty-year-old organic who couldn't do any more with a playing card than put it in his mouth and gum it awhile. Yet he looks like he's enjoying himself, like he's the sort
of guy that gets a laugh out of people.
McMurphy is making the most of his situation. It may be looking good now, with all the fun and jokes, but will he be able to fly away from the machine.
I remember real clear the way that hand looked: there was carbon under the fingernails where he'd worked once in a garage; there was an anchor tattooed back from the knuckles; there was a dirty Band-Aid on the middle knuckle, peeling up at the edge. All the rest of the knuckles were covered with scars and cuts, old and new. I remember the palm was smooth and hard as bone from hefting the wooden handles of axes and hoes, not the hand you'd think could deal cards. The palm was callused, and the calluses were cracked, and dirt was worked in the cracks. A road map of his
travels up and down the West. That palm made a scuffing sound against my hand. I remember the
fingers were thick and strong closing over mine, and my hand commenced to feel peculiar and went
to swelling up out there on my stick of an arm, like he was transmitting his own blood into it. It rang with blood and power: It blowed up near as big as his, I remember. ...
His prominent feature is that he can not hide the truth of who he is. He escaped and wanted to be directed to a place where he could be safe, a place believed to fix people.
"Aide Williams tells me, Mr. McMurry, that you've been somewhat difficult about your admission
shower. Is this true?  Please understand, I appreciate the way you've taken it upon yourself to
orient with the other patients on the ward, but everything in its own good time, Mr. McMurry. I'm
sorry to interrupt you and Mr. Bromden, but you do understand: everyone ... must follow the rules."
He tips his head back and gives that wink that she isn't fooling him any more than I did, that he's
onto her. He looks up at her with one eye for a minute.
"Ya know, ma'am," he says, "ya know—that is the ex-act thing somebody always tells me about
the rules ..."
He grins. They both smile back and forth at each other, sizing each other up.
"... just when they figure I'm about to do the dead opposite."
Then he lets go my hand.
He doesn't follow the rules. Which direction did he take? Was he hoping to go east? West? Did he make comfort in the nest?
"Any number of things." She's calm, smiling, lost in the work of loading the needles. "Comfort
and an easy life, for instance; the feeling of power and respect, perhaps; monetary gain—perhaps all
of these things. Sometimes a manipulator's own ends are simply the actual disruption of the ward for
the sake of disruption. There are such people in our society. A manipulator can influence the other
patients and disrupt them to such an extent that it may take months to get everything running smooth once more. With the present permissive philosophy in mental hospitals, it's easy for them to get away with it. Some years back it was quite different. I recall some years back we had a man, a Mr. Taber, on the ward, and he was an intolerable Ward Manipulator. For a while." She looks up from her work, needle half filled in front of her face like a little wand. Her eyes get far-off and pleased with the memory. "Mistur Tay-bur," she says.
Manipulation has been an issue already confronted. She acknowledges McMurphy's strife and already knows to who the match favors. She doesn't show any struggle, she's too calm about it right now.
The Big Nurse tends to get real put out if something keeps her outfit from running like a smooth,
accurate, precision-made machine. The slightest thing messy or out of kilter or in the way ties her
into a little white knot of tight-smiled fury... And she don't relax a hair till she gets the nuisance
attended to—what she calls "adjusted to surroundings... Under her rule the ward Inside is almost completely adjusted to surroundings. But the thing is she can't be on the ward all the time. She's got to spend some time Outside. So she works with an
eye to adjusting the Outside world too. Working alongside others like her who I call the "Combine,"
which is a huge organization that aims to adjust the Outside as well as she has the Inside, has made
her a real veteran at adjusting things. She was already the Big Nurse in the old place when I came in
from the Outside so long back, and she'd been dedicating herself to adjustment for God knows how
long... Practice has steadied and strengthened her until now she wields a sure power that extends in all directions on hairlike wires too small for anybody's eye but mine; I see her sit in the center of this web of wires like a watchful robot, tend her network with mechanical insect skill, know every second which wire runs where and just what current to send up to get the results she wants.
Even she can't be a machine all the time yet she doesn't allow the same for her patients. But when she is Inside, she can see the place as she has made it; with pipes that run revelations, the wires that she has set to staff and patients, and the heavy ironwork that crushes the people around her. She's an automaton dictating the errored pieces as if they would be fixed by following the same steps and the same customs that she wants out of people.
What she dreams of there in the center of those wires is a world of precision efficiency and tidiness like a pocket watch with a glass back, a place where the schedule is unbreakable and all the patients who aren't Outside, obedient under her beam, are wheelchair Chronics with catheter tubes run direct from every pantleg to the sewer under the floor. Year by year  she accumulates her ideal staff: doctors, all ages and types, come and rise up in front of her with ideas of their own about the way a ward should be run, some with backbone enough to stand behind their ideas, and she fixes these doctors with dry-ice eyes day in, day out, until they retreat with unnatural chills. "I tell you I don't know what it is," they tell the guy in charge of personnel. "Since I started on that ward with that woman I feel like my veins are running ammonia. I shiver all the time, my kids won't sit in my lap, my wife won't sleep with me. I insist on a transfer—neurology bin, the alky tank, pediatrics, I just don't care!"
So sheer and precisely block. She makes everything the way she wants and will not let anyone break, or even chip, something from her set of instructions, rules, and ideas. She is the full force of intimidation that comes with the mechanics of life.
He wanted to carry a sock full of birdshot when he first came on the job, to work the patients into shape, but she told him they didn't do it that way  anymore, made him leave the sap at home and taught him her own technique; taught him not to show his hate and to be calm and wait, wait for a little advantage, a little slack, then twist the rope and keep the pressure steady. All the time. That's the way you get them into shape, she taught him.
The people helping here don't just come in to help but rather the intention to release hate to the patients. If it weren't for the nurse he would have lashed at someone, however that doesn't mean that at any point he wouldn't do it.
Years of training, and all three black boys tune in closer and closer with the Big Nurse's frequency. One by one they are able to disconnect the direct wires and operate on beams. She never gives orders out loud or leaves written instructions that might be found by a visiting wife or schoolteacher. Doesn't need to any more. They are in contact on a high-voltage wave length of hate,
and the black boys are out there performing her bidding before she even thinks it.
It's all one constructed machine. The people only work by what they are given and told to do, not by what they want to do.
So after the nurse gets her staff, efficiency locks the ward like a watchman's clock. Everything the guys think and say and do is all worked out months in advance, based on the little notes the nurse makes during the day. This is typed and fed into the machine I hear humming behind the steel door in the rear of the Nurses' Station...
They are being set into the machine. It's in the walls, within the people, and most likely everywhere else in the world. There is no escaping what is expected if what's expected is not something set by yourself.
He goes off, grumbling, when she frees his arm, and spends the morning moping around the latrine, wondering about those capsules. I got away once holding one of those same red capsules under my tongue, played like I'd swallowed it, and crushed it open later in the broom closet. For a tick of time, before it all turned into white dust, I saw it was a miniature electronic element like the ones I helped the Radar Corps work with in the Army, microscopic wires and grids and  transistors, this one designed to dissolve on contact with air.
He's being probed, as he sees it. And he sees that everyone else is being probed. That's what the machine feeds them.
Spin round and around there in the middle of the floor, looking wild and frantic at the TV, the new pictures on the walls, the sanitary drinking fountain. And laughing.
What he sees that's so funny he don't ever let us in on, and the only thing I can see funny is him spinning round and around out there like a rubber toy—if you push him over he's weighted on the bottom and straightaway rocks back upright, goes to spinning again. He never, never looks at the men's faces. ...
They only point out the nice material parts and stray from the true purpose that makes nature and peace, the sound minds.
The  mill put me in a kind of dream, all the humming and clicking and rattling of people and machinery, jerking around in a pattern. That's why I stayed when the others left, that, and because it reminded me somehow of the men in the tribe who'd left the village in the last days to do work on the gravel crusher for the dam. The frenzied pattern, the faces hypnotized by routine ... I wanted to go out in the bus with the team, but I couldn't.
"Do," she said to me in a whisper, "do take me, big boy. Outa this here mill, outa this town, outa this life. Take me to some ol' duck blind someplace. Someplace else. Huh, big boy, huh?"
The machine is something very enticing, luring a dreamlike reality of the world that can be. In this flashback, Bromden captures the pivotal memory in which he sees someone wanting to escape the machine.
Yes. This is what I know. The ward is a factory for the Combine. It's for fixing up mistakes made in the neighborhoods and in the schools and in the churches, the hospital is. When a completed product goes back out into society, all fixed up good as new, better than new sometimes, it brings joy to the Big Nurse's heart; something that came in all twisted different is now a functioning, adjusted component, a credit to the whole outfit and a marvel to behold. Watch him sliding across the land with a welded grin, fitting into some nice little neighborhood where they're just now digging trenches along the street to lay pipes for city water. He's happy with it. He's adjusted to surroundings finally. ...
They are products sent to be fixed. It's not about fixing them to become better and cure them, it's to adjust them to the greater machine in the Outside.
A successful Dismissal like this is a product brings joy to the Big Nurse's heart and speaks good of her craft and the whole industry in general. Everybody's happy with a Dismissal. But an Admission is a different story. Even the best-behaved Admission is bound to need some
work to swing into routine, and, also, you never can tell when just that certain one might come in who's free enough to foul things up right and left, really make a hell of a mess and constitute a threat to the whole smoothness of the outfit. And, like I explain, the Big Nurse gets real put out if anything keeps her outfit from running smooth.
The errors are unexpected. That's why the industry only puts out the fixed products.
The nurse's swinging eyes hang on him for a second. She's been watching him play poker all morning and though she hasn't seen any money pass hands she suspects he's not exactly the type that is going to be happy with the ward rule of gambling for matches only. The deck whispers open and clacks shut again and then disappears somewhere in one of those big palms.
She suspects a lot more. She won't let a single error make her system fall apart.
"Right here, Doc. The nurse left this part out while she was summarizing my record. Where it says, 'Mr. McMurphy has evidenced repeated'—I just want to make sure I'm understood completely, Doc—'repeated outbreaks of passion that suggest the possible diagnosis of psychopath.' He told me
that' psychopath' means I fight and fuh—pardon me, ladies—means I am he put it overzealous in my
sexual relations. Doctor, is that real serious?"
The doctor wipes his eyes. "No, Mr. McMurphy, I'll admit I haven't. I am interested, however, that the doctor at the work farm added this statement: 'Don't overlook the possibility that this man might be feigning psychosis to escape the drudgery of the work farm.' " He looks up at McMurphy. "And what about that, Mr. McMurphy?"
Passion is what brought him here; the passion to get out of the greater machine.
Our intention, he usually ends by saying, is to make this as much like your own democratic, free
neighborhoods as possible—a little world Inside that is a made-to-scale prototype of  the big
world Outside that you will one day be taking your place in again.
In escaping the machine they were put into a smaller simulation of it. There is no escaping so easily.
She reached in the basket for the log book. "Must we go over past history?"
That triggered something, some acoustic device in the walls, rigged to turn on at just the sound of those words coming from her mouth. The Acutes stiffened. Their mouths opened in unison. Her sweeping eyes stopped on the first man along the wall.
She knows that she can strum something in each and every one of them. It's the acoustic nature that comes to them that differs them from the nurse and everyone else. It's as if they can't function without someone to make them move to will. Robots have no emotions.
"Why then, I'll just explain it to you." McMurphy raises his voice; though he doesn't look at the other Acutes listening behind him, it's them he's talking to. "The flock gets sight of a spot of blood on some chicken and they all go to peckin' at it, see, till they rip the chicken to shreds, blood and bones and feathers. But usually a couple of the flock gets spotted in the fracas, then it's their turn. And a few more gets spots and gets pecked to death, and more and more. Oh, a peckin' party can
wipe out the whole flock in a matter of a few hours, buddy, I seen it. A mighty awesome sight. The only way to prevent it—with chickens—is to clip blinders on them. So's they can't see."
He's acknowledging that they are all going against one another. Eventually they would destroy one another with the same issue that they have let out of their system; a spark in one machine may trigger a fire in another.
"Oh, yes; I forgot to add that I noticed your primitive brutality also this morning. Psychopath with definite sadistic tendencies, probably motivated by an unreasoning egomania. Yes. As you see, all these natural talents certainly qualify you as a competent therapist and render you quite capable of criticizing Miss Ratched's meeting procedure, in spite of the fact that she is a highly regarded psychiatric nurse with twenty years in the field. Yes, with your talent, my friend, you could work subconscious miracles, soothe the aching id and heal the wounded superego. You could probably bring about a cure for the whole ward, Vegetables and all, in six short months, ladies and gentlemen or your money back."
The sarcasm here is plenty to show that he does not in fact believe that there is any rescue from the ward itself.
"No. She doesn't need to accuse. She has a genius for insinuation. Did you ever hear her, in the course of our discussion today, ever once hear her accuse me of anything? Yet it seems I have been accused of a multitude of things, of jealousy and paranoia, of not being man enough to satisfy my wife, of having relations with male friends of mine, of holding my cigarette in an affected manner, even—it seems to me—accused of having nothing between my legs but a patch of hair—and soft and downy and blond hair at that! Ball-cutter? Oh, you underestimate her!"
She has the power to dismantle a person simply by getting at them. It's not about what is done, it's about what is said, and the insinuations that prompt skepticism and storms in minds. She does more than just physical pain.
"This world ... belongs to the strong, my friend! The ritual of our existence is based on the strong getting stronger by devouring the weak. We must face up to this. No more than right that it should be this way. We must learn to accept it as a law of the natural world. The rabbits accept their role in the ritual and recognize the wolf as the strong. In defense, the rabbit becomes sly and frightened and elusive and he digs holes and hides when the wolf is about. And he endures, he goes on. He knows his place. He most certainly doesn't  challenge the wolf to combat. Now, would that be wise?
Dog eat dog world. There is nothing natural about this. It's all the machine and the people haven't gotten to recognize the archaic truth that was freedom and the natural world. Because of that, so many people try to escape so that they can live long enough not to die so easily.
"Mr. McMurphy ... my friend ... I'm not a chicken, I'm a rabbit. The doctor is a rabbit. Cheswick there is a rabbit. Billy Bibbit is a rabbit. All of us in here are rabbits of varying ages and degrees, hippity-hopping through our Walt Disney world. Oh, don't misunderstand me, we're not in here because we are rabbits—we'd be rabbits wherever we were—we're all in here because we can't adjust to our rabbithood. We need a good strong wolf like the nurse to teach us our place."
"Man, you're talkin' like a fool. You mean to tell me that you're gonna sit back and let some old blue-haired woman talk you into being a rabbit?"
Learned helplessness. They believe themselves to not have the ability to fend for themselves as scared and weak people. It's because they couldn't adapt that they are taken away to be set straight; rewired as natural rabbits.
"Yes, but you said them very quietly and took them all back later. You are a rabbit too, don't try to avoid the truth. That's why I hold no grudge against you for the questions you asked me during the meeting today. You were only playing your role. If you had been on the carpet, or you Billy, or you Fredrickson, I would have attacked you just as cruelly as you attacked me. We mustn't be ashamed of our behavior; it's the way we little animals were meant to behave."
Little animals do anything they can to survive. It's been satired that people do the same to each other. That's why they cause so much feud, even in the smallest circles.
"Wait; I'm afraid you've raised a point that requires some deliberation. Rabbits are noted for that certain trait, aren't they? Notorious, in fact, for their whambam. Yes. Um. But  in any case, the point you bring up simply indicates that you are a healthy, functioning and adequate rabbit, whereas most of us in here even lack the sexual ability to make the grade as adequate rabbits. Failures, we are—feeble, stunted, weak little creatures in a weak little race. Rabbits, sans whambam; a pathetic notion."
"Wait a minute; you keep twistin' what I say—"
"No. You were right. You remember, it was you that drew our attention to the place where the nurse was concentrating her pecking? That was true. There's not a man here that isn't afraid he is losing or has already lost his whambam. We comical little creatures can't even achieve masculinity in the rabbit world, that's how weak and inadequate we are. Hee. We are—the rabbits, one might say, of the rabbit world!"
It's laughable the state state which they have become. they are the lowest people out there, because they even falter in being so small. He can't even say that they are men.
"You are strapped to a table, shaped, ironically, like a cross,  with a crown of electric sparks in place of thorns. You are touched on each side of the head with wires. Zap! Five cents' worth of electricity through the brain and you are jointly administered therapy and a punishment for your hostile go-to-hell behavior, on top of being put out of everyone's way for six hours to three days, depending on the individual. Even when you do regain consciousness you are in a state of
disorientation for days. You are unable to think coherently. You can't recall things. Enough of these
treatments and a man could turn out like Mr. Ellis you see over there against the wall. A drooling, pants-wetting idiot at thirty-five. Or turn into a mindless organism that eats and eliminates and yells '**** the wife,' like Ruckly. Or look at Chief Broom clutching to his namesake there beside you."
Is this the moment of enlightenment? No. But it gives the same disturbed crucifix image as before where a person is in horror, imitating Jesus Christ as if the punishment was to make the person holy and redeem them from sin. It won't help.
"Another thing: I'm in this place because that's the way I planned it, pure and simple, because it's a better place than a work farm. As near as I can tell I'm no loony, or never knew it if I was. Your nurse don't know this; she's not going to be looking out for somebody coming at her with a trigger-quick mind like I obviously got. These things give me an edge I like. So I'm saying five bucks to each of you that wants it if I can't put a betsy bug up that nurse's butt within a week."
He's not insane, but he's already doing things that provoke the nurse, and thus he is kept. That really raises the question of how many people are kept in wards or considered insane because of their views and ideas being different. That doesn't mean McMurphy is justified but he truly wasn't insane, he was trying to escape the bigger machine.
Right and left there are other things happening just as bad—crazy, horrible things too goofy and outlandish to cry about and too much true to laugh about—but the fog is getting thick enough I don't have to watch. And somebody's tugging at my arm. I know already what will happen: somebody'll drag me out of the fog and we'll be back on the ward and there won't be a sign of what
went on tonight and if I was fool enough to try and tell anybody about it they'd say, Idiot, you just had a nightmare; things as crazy as a big machine room down in the bowels of a dam where people get cut up by robot workers don't exist. But if they don't exist, how can a man see them?
Here's the Chief's continuing transition between imagination and reality. The fog is what he remembers fro war but he sees it too often correlated with a bad sign in the ward. Maybe it's not that he's insane but rather that the feeling has followed for so long he still sees every imposing stir as the moment that traumatized him.
This time he doesn't untie the sheet but walks away from me to help two aides I never saw before and a young doctor lift old Blastic onto the stretcher and carry him out, covered with a sheet—handle him more careful than anybody ever handled him before in all his life.
They just take the dead so simply. No one else is warned and it all goes by in a moment.
She can't have them see her face like this, white and warped with fury. She uses all the power of control that's in her. Gradually the lips gather together again under the little white nose, run together, like the red-hot wire had got hot enough to melt, shimmer a second, then click solid as the molten metal sets, growing cold and strangely dull. Her lips part, and her
tongue comes between them, a chunk of slag. Her eyes open again, and they have that strange dull and cold and flat look the lips have, but she goes into her good-morning routine like there was nothing different about her, figuring the patients'll be too sleepy to notice.
She is the embodiment of the machine, rustling when tampered but quick enough to regain and return the concrete order.
Right now, she's got the fog machine switched on, and it's rolling in so fast I can't see a thing but her face, rolling in thicker and thicker, and I feel as hopeless and dead as I felt happy a minute ago, when she gave that little jerk - even more hopeless than ever before, on
account of I know now there is no real help against her or her Combine. McMurphy can't help any more than I could. Nobody can help. And the more I think about how nothing can be helped, the faster the fog rolls in.
And I'm glad when it gets thick enough you're lost in it and can let go, and be safe again.
If the nurse is the machine, and the Outside is just another machine, and Chief sees fog with imposing danger, then he's being disoriented and lost and confused. He can't find a way out. It's anxiety and fear, creeping onto him whenever he sees danger. And now, he is blinded by the steam and fog that the ugly machine throws at him.
You forget - if you don't sit down and make the effort to think back - forget how it was at the old hospital. They didn't have nice places like this on the walls for you to climb into. They didn't have TV or
swimming pools or chicken twice a month. They didn't have nothing but walls and chairs, confinement jackets it took you hours of hard work to get out of. They've learned a lot since then. "Come a long way," says fat-faced Public Relation. They've made life look very
pleasant with paint and decorations and chrome bathroom fixtures. "A man that would want to run away from a place as nice as this," says fat-faced Public Relation, "why, there'd be something wrong with him."
There can be worse things than this, nut they do nothing to fix the works inside of people. The material is all face value, it's what has let this machine stay.
It's getting hard to locate my bed at night, have to crawl around on my hands and knees feeling underneath the springs till I find my gobs of gum stuck there: Nobody complains about all the fog. I know why, now: as bad as it is, you can slip back in it and feel safe. That's what McMurphy can't understand, us wanting to be safe. He keeps trying to drag us out of the fog, out in the open where we'd be easy to get at.
It's good to have the comfort of fear and anxiety. Once you are out of the sanctum you can get pecked at so easily. It's like a tower with no supports, an insecurity without walls.
There's a shipment of frozen parts come in downstairs - hearts and kidneys and brains and the like. I can hear them rumble into cold storage down the coal chute. A guy sitting in the room someplace I can't see is talking about a guy up on Disturbed killing himself. Old
Rawler. Cut both nuts off and bled to death, sitting right on the can in the latrine, half a dozen people in there with him didn't know it till he fell off to the floor, dead.
What makes people so impatient is what I can't figure; all the guy had to do was wait.
Here come the pieces to fix the patients. It's satirical to think that if one waited they could have parts replaced to fix exactly what is wrong with them.
And then some guy wandering as lost as you would all of a sudden be right before your eyes, his face bigger and clearer than you ever saw a man's face before in your life. Your eyes were working so hard to see in that fog that when something did come in sight every detail
was ten times as clear as usual, so clear both of you had to look away. When a man showed up you didn't want to look at his face and he didn't want to look at yours, because it's painful to see somebody so clear that it's like looking inside him, but then neither did you want to look away and lose him completely. You had a choice: you could either strain and look at things that appeared in front of you in the fog, painful as it might be, or you could relax and lose yourself.
The moment at war that took him. It reflects so much of what he sees in the ward because he sees people, everyone, more clearly than anyone else and yet he understands how one will die or escape the monstrosities.
Then I discovered something: I don't have to end up at that door if I stay still when the fog comes over me and just keep quiet. The trouble was I'd been finding that door my own self because I got scared of being lost so long and went to hollering so they could track me. In a way, I was hollering for them to track me; I had figured that anything was better'n being lost for good, even the Shock Shop. Now, I don't know. Being lost isn't so bad.
He's trying to restrain himself from losing himself. Many other people have done it and now it was a simple route for someone else to become lost and out of direction. That's why he flocks so much to the nest, to the only place he knows he'll be safe.
If somebody'd of come in and took a look, men watching a blank TV, a fifty-year-old woman hollering and squealing at the back of their heads about discipline and order and recriminations, they'd of thought the whole bunch was crazy as loons.
Was the machine broken or working around like the same cogs that repeat the same movements every single time?
There's no more fog any place.
Without the machine there is no anxiety and fear.
"No. He isn't extraordinary. He is simply a man and no more, and is subject to all the fears and all the cowardice and all the timidity that any other man is subject to. Given a few more days, I have a very strong feeling that he will prove this, to us as well as the rest of the patients. If we keep him on the ward I am certain his brashness will subside, his self-made rebellion will dwindle to nothing, and" - she smiles, knowing something nobody else does - "that our redheaded
hero will cut himself down to something the patients will all recognize and lose respect for: a braggart and a blowhard of the type who may climb up on a soapbox and shout for a following, the way we've all seen Mr. Cheswick do, then back down the moment there is any real danger to him personally."
They believe that the patients themselves degenerate but in reality it's the machine, the constructed routine of therapy they created, that breaks a person down, even if they're not insane or dealing with something mentally.
I'd take a look at my own self in the mirror and wonder how it was possible that anybody could manage such an enormous thing as being what he was. There'd be my face in the mirror, dark and hard with big, high
cheekbones like the cheek underneath them had been hacked out with a hatchet, eyes all black and hard and mean-looking, just like Papa's eyes or the eyes of all those tough, mean-looking Indians you see on TV, and I'd think, That ain't me, that ain't my face. It wasn't even me when I was trying to be that face. I wasn't even really me then; I was just being the way I looked, the way people wanted. It don't seem like I ever have been me. How can McMurphy be what he is?
Identity is key to the individual. it is that he has been made now rather than that he chose. It works the same for who is usually the person to be praised and allowed.
It was the smart thing. McMurphy was doing the smart thing. I could see that. He was giving in because it was the smartest thing to do, not because of any of these
other reasons the Acutes were making up. He didn't say so, but I knew and I told myself it was the smart thing to do. I told myself that over and over: It's safe. Like hiding. It's the smart thing to do, nobody could say any different. I know what he's doing.
Succumb because there is no escape. He can't beat the nurse.
I remember it was a Friday again, three weeks after we voted on TV, and everybody who could walk was herded over to Building One for what they try to tell us is chest X-rays for TB, which I know is a check to see if everybody's machinery is functioning up to par.
The mechanical alignment with people.
"I don't think you fully understand the public, my friend; in this country, when something is out of order, then the quickest way to get it fixed is the best way."
It's not about what fully restores but what can do it quickest.
"Please understand: We do not impose certain rules and restrictions on you without a great deal of thought about their therapeutic value. A good many of you are in here because you could not adjust to the rules of society in the Outside World, because you refused to face up to them, because you tried to circumvent them and avoid them. At some time - perhaps in your childhood - you may have been allowed to get away with flouting the rules of society. When you broke a rule you knew it. You wanted to be dealt with, needed it, but the punishment did not come. That foolish lenience on the part of your parents may have been the germ that grew into your present illness. I tell you this hoping you will understand that it is entirely for your own good that we enforce discipline and order."
The rabbits of the rabbit world; this is an emotional attack to simply say that they are the way they are because they never learned and now they have to learn the hard way.
Papa says if you don't watch it people will force you one way or the other, into doing what they think you should do, or into just being mule-stubborn and doing the opposite out of spite.
The machine, big and heavy, is a steady force that knows.
"As my sociology professor used to emphasize, 'There is generally one person in every situation you must never underestimate the power of.'"
Chief has't been estimated to do much influence.
"That's what they said to him. He said, What can you pay for the way a man lives? He said, What can you pay for what a man is? They didn't understand. Not even the tribe. They stood out in front of our door all holding those checks and they wanted him to tell them what to do now. They kept asking him to invest for them, or tell them where to go, or to buy a farm. But he was too little anymore. And he was too drunk, too. The Combine had whipped him. It beats everybody. It'll beat you too. They can't have somebody as big as Papa running around unless he's one of them. You can see that."
They got everyone to go against one person, to have the power in the pursuit for greedy intent and gain. Even the mightiest will fall in the way of millions, but not for the good purposes.
There was a blue smoke hung near the ceiling over her head; I think apparatus burned out all over the ward trying to adjust to her come busting in like she did - took electronic readings on her and calculated they weren't built to handle something like this on the ward, and just burned out, like machines committing suicide.
The machine is killing itself, the nurse is failing in her own instruments, and the rabbits are gaining a little more force of their own.
"Never before did I realize that mental illness could have the aspect of power, power. Think of it: perhaps the more insane a man is, the more powerful he could become. Hitler an example. Fair makes the old brain reel, doesn't it? Food for thought there."
I love how at this point they are acknowledging someone else as insane, even if millions of more people obeyed and believed in that person. It's as if people don't understand much of things in present states until they can be looked at subjectively.
Or things like five thousand houses punched out identical by a machine and strung across the hills outside of town, so fresh from the factory they're still linked together like sausages, a sign saying "NEST IN THE WEST HOMES - NO DOWN PAYMENT FOR VETS," a playground down the hill from the houses, behind a checker-wire fence and another sign that read "ST. LUKE'S SCHOOL FOR BOYS" - there were five thousand kids in green corduroy pants and white shirts under green pullover sweaters playing crack-the-whip across an acre of crushed gravel. The line popped and twisted and jerked like a snake, and every crack popped a little kid off the end, sent him rolling up against the fence like a tumbleweed. Every crack. And it was always the same little kid, over and over.
It's all completely manufactured and yet people can staple natural warmth and peace and serenity to the work of uniform.
Because he knows you have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from running you plumb crazy. He knows there's a painful side; he knows my thumb smarts and his girlfriend has a bruised breast and the doctor is losing his glasses, but he won't let the pain blot out the humor no more'n he'll let the humor blot out the pain.
They have been avoiding reality. It's not that they couldn't adapt to the machine and Outside, it's that they decided not to.
I like the game and I like Grandma. I don't like Mrs. Tingle Tangle Toes, catching hens. I don't like her. I do like that goose flying over the cuckoo's nest. I like him, and I like Grandma, dust in her wrinkles.
Chief's visions during a lobotomy. It's a children's rhyme that he remembers, as if it was something he held for years as the only safety he had before the menacing machine.
Look out, here comes a toss. Ay, lady, the smokehouse is empty and baby needs a new pair of opera pumps. Comin' at ya. Faw!Crapped out. Water. I'm lying in a puddle.Snake eyes. Caught him again. I see that number one up above me: he can't whip frozen dice behind the feed store in an alley - in Portland. The alley is a tunnel it's cold because the sun is late afternoon. Let Me ... go see Grandma. Please, Mama.What was it he said when he winked? One flew east one flew west. Don't stand in my way. Damn it, nurse, don't stand in my way Way WAY! My roll. Faw. Damn. Twisted again. Snake eyes.The schoolteacher tell me you got a good head, boy, be something.
And when the fog was finally swept from my head it seemed like I'd just come up after a long, deep dive, breaking the surface after being under water a hundred years. It was the last treatment they gave me.
He is no longer afraid because he is no longer sensing.
Harding shook his head. "I don't think I can give you an answer. Oh, I could give you Freudian reasons with fancy talk, and that would be right as far as it went. But what you want are the reasons for the reasons, and I'm not able to give you those. Not for the others, anyway. For myself? Guilt. Shame. Fear. Self-belittlement. I discovered at an early age that I was - shall we be kind and say different? It's a better, more general word than the other one. I indulged in certain practices that our society regards as shameful. And I got sick. It wasn't the practices, I don't think, it was the feeling that the great, deadly, pointing forefinger of society was pointing at me - and the great voice of millions chanting, 'Shame. Shame. Shame.' It's society's way of dealing with someone different."
That says it all. The machine is society and thus it will refute and try to destroy anything that goes against it or far beyond it.
We couldn't stop him because we were the ones making him do it. It wasn't the nurse that was forcing him, it was our need that was making him push himself slowly up from sitting, his big hands driving down on the leather chair arms, pushing him up, rising and standing like one of those moving-picture zombies, obeying orders beamed at him from forty masters. It was us that had been making him go on for weeks, keeping him standing long after his feet and legs had given out, weeks of making him wink and grin and laugh and go on with his act long after his humor had been parched dry between two electrodes. We made him stand and hitch up his black shorts like they were horsehide chaps, and push back his cap with one finger like it was a ten-gallon Stetson, slow, mechanical gestures - and when he walked across the floor you could hear the iron in his bare heels ring sparks out of the tile.
They were a part of the machine. As much as they despised it to be the ones losing to the electric and snarling wires, they went against one another. That was the way they had done things. There is no difference between the Outside and Inside.
He gave a cry. At the last, falling backward, his face appearing to us for a second upside down before he was smothered on the floor by a pile of white uniforms, he let himself cry out: A sound of cornered-animal fear and hate and surrendered defiance, that if you ever trailed coon or cougar or lynx is like the last sound the treed and shot and falling animal makes as the dogs get him, when he finally doesn't care any more about anything but himself and his dying.
There's the nature, and it's beastly.
The big, hard body had a tough grip on life. It fought a long time against having it taken away, flailing and thrashing around so much I finally had to lie full length on top of it and scissor the kicking legs with mine while I mashed the pillow into the face. I lay there on top of the body for what seemed days. Until the thrashing stopped. Until it was still a while and had shuddered once and was still again. Then I rolled off. I lifted the pillow, and in the moonlight I saw the expression hadn't changed from the blank, dead-end look the least bit, even under suffocation. I took my thumbs and pushed the lids down and held them till they stayed. Then I lay back on my bed.
He couldn't witness McMurphy in the vegetable state that he was in. He knew that no one deserved to be a trophy or a warning of the consequences to rebellion. Chief killed McMurphy to end the suffering that would be instilled if he continued to live.
I ran across the grounds in the direction I remembered seeing the dog go, toward the highway. I remember I was taking huge strides as I ran, seeming to step and float a long ways before my next foot struck the earth. I felt like I was flying. Free. Nobody bothers coming
after an AWOL, I knew, and Scanlon could handle any questions about the dead man - no need to be running like this. But I didn't stop. I ran for miles before I stopped and walked up the embankment onto the
He follows the trail of a stray dog once more to a road of freedom from the Inside enclosure.
I might go to Canada eventually, but I think I'll stop along the Columbia on the way. I'd like to check around Portland and Hood River and The Dalles to see if there's any of the guys I used to know back in the village who haven't drunk themselves goofy. I'd like to see what
they've been doing since the government tried to buy their right to be Indians. I've even heard that some of the tribe have took to building their old ramshackle wood scaffolding all over that big million-dollar
hydroelectric dam, and are spearing salmon in the spillway. I'd give something to see that. Mostly, I'd just like to look over the country around the gorge again, just to bring some of it clear in my mind again. I been away a long time.
He is free to fly to where ever he wants. Whether it be west or south, or anywhere beyond the cuckoo's nest, back to nature; to escape the steam of the machine.
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