At the next group meeting, Ratched, feeling she now has the upper hand, tells the group that they will be punished for their rebellious behavior from three weeks ago. Telling them that the punishment is for their own good, she has decided to deny the use of the tub room for card playing. Thinking this is her final victory, Ratched is surprised when McMurphy rises from his chair. Chief writes that McMurphy regains his loggerman's stature as he approaches her. He stops before reaching her, however, and forces his hand through the glass of the nurses' station to retrieve his cigarettes, telling Ratched that the glass was so clean, he didn't know it was there. His return to true form stops the ringing in Chief's ears.
The ringing in Chief's ears is a transmission from the Combine to the components installed in Chief's brain. When the ringing stops, it means that the Combine is flummoxed by something, which, in this instance, is McMurphy's return to nonconforming behavior.
Hooking his thumbs in the belt loops of his pants, McMurphy again adopts the stature of the Hollywood Western movie hero, swaggering toward the glass of the nurses' station. He refers to Nurse Ratched as "Ma'am" as Jimmy Stewart referred to Marlene Dietrich in the film Destry Rides Again. The reader is led to believe that a showdown of epic proportions is about to begin.
Faulknerian a reference to American writer and Nobel Laureate William Faulkner, known for his fiction that depicts human frailties.
Brain Burning a reference to the effects of electroshock and a parody of the title of one of William Faulkner's more famous short stories, "Barn Burning."
punitive inflicting, concerned with, or directed toward punishment.