One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest By Ken Kesey Summary and Analysis Part 1: When the Fog Clears

Summary

On this day, Chief is spared electroshock therapy in the Shock Shop. Instead, Big Nurse puts him in Seclusion where he suffers at the hands of the African-American orderlies. When he comes out, he sits in the day room and witnesses the admission of a new patient.

The new patient, Randle Patrick McMurphy, is loud, playful, and boisterous. Chief states that "he's no ordinary Admission," and furthermore exhibits no fear or passive behavior. McMurphy's voice reminds Chief of his father, who was a real Colombian Indian chief. McMurphy emits what Chief describes as "the first laugh I've heard in years," while admitting that all the other patients are afraid to laugh so they snicker into their hands instead.

McMurphy tells the patients that he was sent to the hospital because of scuffles he caused on a work farm, which caused the courts to label him a psychopath. He tells the patients that he isn't about to question the court's wisdom if it means getting out of performing manual labor on the work farm. He disagrees with his perception of the court's use of the term psychopath, because he feels the term denotes an individual "who fights too much and fucks too much." He immediately proceeds to make bets with his fellow patients.

Analysis

Chief describes McMurphy as "big," apparently oblivious to the fact that his own physical stature is substantially larger than McMurphy's. This is notable because Chief also refers to Nurse Ratched and his own mother as able to grow bigger in order to control their surroundings, while Chief feels powerless within his environment. The boisterousness of McMurphy reminds Chief of his father, who was also a big man in size and attitude.

Glossary

electroshock therapy a form of shock therapy in which electric current is applied to the brain.

Shock Shop a room on the hospital's Disturbed Ward where electroshock therapy is administered.

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