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A brief overview of the novel one flew over the cuckoos nest

The novel begins the morning that a new "Admission," Randle McMurphy, is introduced to an insane asylum where Chief is the longest-residing patient.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo

McMurphy is larger than life, intelligent, and observant. He stirs up the ward immediately by introducing friendly competition—gambling—and encouraging the men to rebel against the petty rules created and enforced by Nurse Ratched often referred to as "Big Nurse".

McMurphy places a bet with the other men on the ward that he can break Nurse Ratched without a getting sent to the Disturbed Ward, b getting treated with electroshock therapyor c being lobotomized. When McMurphy figures this out, he steps back and begins to behave—but not for long. Just when Nurse Ratched thinks she has the upper hand, McMurphy steps back up to the plate and challenges her authority again.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

This time, though, he goes too far. He sneaks two prostitutes into the ward, gets everybody drunk, and also breaks into the prescription drug cabinet. After the incident, Nurse Ratched guilt-trips all the men back into her control. Speaking of going too far, Nurse Ratched goes way, way too far.

Bibbit panics, which demoralizes the other inmates.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo

Bibbit suddenly commits suicide after reflecting on the shame that Big Nurse is about to bring down on his head. Then, in one of the biggest scenes in the novel, McMurphy tears Nurse Ratched's shirt off and reveals her breasts. Well, McMurphy has proved that the Big Nurse is "only" a woman: McMurphy also mangles Nurse Ratched physically, choking her badly. The momentum of the crazy situation allows Nurse Ratched to send McMurphy upstairs for a lobotomy.

That night, he smothers McMurphy to death.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Analysis

Chief then escapes from the hospital after breaking a window. His getaway is only possible because of McMurphy, who previously had taught Chief how to lift a heavy panel in the tub-room and break the windows.

Chief reaches the highway, where he catches a ride with a Mexican guy and heads to Canada and freedom.

  1. McMurphy continues to play cards with the other Acutes, gambling with cigarettes and winning, and then letting the others win back their losses. He has overslept and failed to leave the ward before Nurse Ratched arrived for work.
  2. He is exuberant, full of stories, gambling with the other Acutes at cards and anything else he can think of.
  3. Before he leaves, McMurphy and the men encourage Billy to have sex with the woman while all the others celebrate McMurphy's going-away party with alcohol.
  4. See Article History This contribution has not yet been formally edited by Britannica. Hero Worship Soon, even the most timid of the ward patients are willing to stand up to Nurse Ratched.