One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest By Ken Kesey Summary and Analysis Part 1: I Know How They Work It

Summary

The conclusion of Part 1 begins with a stream of consciousness passage by Chief Bromden that details the extent of his paranoia and some of his mental condition's causes. He first experiences the fog while serving in the military during World War II. He believes the fog machine used on the ward is Army Surplus. He senses that the Combine is increasing the output of the fog machine until it can find a way to control McMurphy.

At a group meeting, McMurphy tells Nurse Ratched that he'd like another vote to change the television viewing schedule. Nurse Ratched realizes that McMurphy will never win a vote because she counts the votes of the Chronics as well as the Acutes, and the Chronics are not cognizant enough to understand what they're voting for. Ratched ends the meeting before a final vote is tallied; a tally that favors McMurphy and the Acutes. While the other patients are disillusioned, McMurphy denies Ratched her victory by placing himself in front of the television. When she shuts off the power, he and the other Acutes stay fixed to the television while Ratched yells at them to resume their duties. McMurphy has won another battle.

Analysis

McMurphy's actions serve to invigorate the Acutes who previously had resigned themselves to the leading of passive emasculated lives. While McMurphy's actions were initially perceived by Nurse Ratched and the patients alike as simply rebellious troublemaking, the patients begin to see it as a source of liberation. Realizing this, the reader may infer that Nurse Ratched will react in an opposite fashion than the patients.

Glossary

paranoid characterized by extreme suspiciousness, grandiose delusions, or delusions of persecution.

paranoid schizophrenia a chronic form of schizophrenia characterized by hallucinations, grandiose delusions, delusions of persecution, and so on.

maudlin foolishly and tearfully or weakly sentimental.

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