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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey - Barron's Booknotes
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The Chief has scored his victory. Before, it might have taken
him two weeks to escape the fog brought on by the
electroshock therapy. Now it takes only a day. And he's free of
the fog for good.

McMurphy, however, isn't so lucky. Because he refuses to give
in to Nurse Ratched, he's subjected to more shock treatments.
He fights back, pretends he's the same old McMurphy,
bragging, pinching the Nurse, insisting that the treatments have
caused him no trouble. But the Chief sees the truth in
McMurphy's tired face: the Combine is wearing him down.

The Chief leaves the Disturbed Ward and returns downstairs
without being able to say goodbye to McMurphy. Harding and
the others treat the Chief with the awe they once reserved for
the new patient, not even thinking the Chief's sudden burst into
speech unusual because they're too busy trying to get
information about his friend.

During the group meeting the next day the patients laugh at
Nurse Ratched's failure. (But it's an ominous sign when she
says that because McMurphy isn't responding to EST,
something else-meaning lobotomy-may eventually be tried.)
McMurphy is becoming a legend, and Nurse Ratched knows
she must prevent that. She plans to bring McMurphy back to
the ward, while continuing to inflict shock treatments on him in
hopes he'll grow so weak the patients will lose their respect for

The Chief and the other patients realize they'll have to arrange
for McMurphy's immediate escape. When he returns,
seemingly the same rowdy, disruptive man he was before, they
tell him their plans. But he objects-tonight is the night his
friend Candy is to have her date with Billy Bibbit. He agrees to
escape at the end of the evening.

During another group meeting, Nurse Ratched repeats her
belief that McMurphy may require stronger treatment.
Thinking she means more EST, McMurphy pretends
enthusiasm for the idea. When he discovers that she is in fact
suggesting a lobotomy, he turns even that suggestion into a
joke, implying that she means at last to castrate him.

As the hour of Billy's date with Candy approaches, we're
reminded again of the link between freely expressed sexuality
and sanity. As with Harding's, Billy's problems are in large
part sexual. Throughout the book we've seen him as intelligent,
sensitive, but painfully shy-still boyish, even though is over 30.
Another of the oppressive, destructive mothers in the book,
Mrs. Bibbit has prevented her son from reaching sexual
maturity, just as her friend Nurse Ratched has prevented him
and the other patients from gaining the maturity that would
free them from the hospital. For McMurphy and for Kesey,
Billy's imminent loss of virginity is a giant first step towards
joining the world of free and functioning men.

Midnight. Most of the patients are still awake, awaiting
Candy's arrival. McMurphy asks Mr. Turkle, one of the more
sympathetic of the aides, to unlock the Seclusion room for
Billy's and Candy's use. As payment, Turkle demands not just
liquor but time with Candy himself. Billy, ever-innocent, is
angry at this implied denial of Candy's virtue, but McMurphy
tells him not to worry-by the time Billy's date arrives, Turkle
will be too drunk to think about women.

Turkle and McMurphy smoke marijuana while waiting for
Candy. When they think to turn on the ward lights, she finally
appears. McMurphy misquotes Byron (the real poem reads
"She walks in beauty, like the night"), and drags the nervous
Billy to meet her.

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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey - Barron's Booknotes

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