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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey - Barron's Booknotes
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Candy is already drunk, and she's brought along an equally
drunken friend, Sandy, the girl who was supposed to go on the
fishing trip but who got married instead. After an extremely
brief marriage, she's back. Like Candy, she seems fun-loving
and, in her own way, innocent.

The patients are amazed by the two women. The well-read
Harding compares them to characters in novels by Thorne
Smith, a popular writer of the 1920s and 30s. The noise of an
approaching supervisor scares everyone into the latrine. The
supervisor questions Turkle, who can't explain why all the
lights in the ward are lit except for the one in the room in
which he's working. Harding saves the situation by concocting
an absurd story about his need to go to the bathroom in the
dark: at last he is combining his intelligence with some

The patients begin to get drunk. Turkle allows them to break
into the room where drugs and hospital records are kept, and
the patients examine the information the staff has collected on
them. Candy is amazed by Billy's file-he doesn't seem as crazy
as the hospital reports him to be. Rules are being violated right
and left. As Sandy and the epileptic Sefelt make love, he
suffers one of his seizures-but the girl seems more impressed
than upset.

Harding makes a speech that he intends to be humorous, but
which is, at least for some members of the ward, sadly true. "It
is our last fling," he announces. "We are henceforth doomed."
Despite his words, the party continues. Billy and Candy
disappear into the Seclusion room. The Chief wonders if the
evening's antics have shown that the Combine isn't really all-
powerful. He feels so good about this hope that he hoists
McMurphy and Sandy as easily as if they were kids-an
indication that he's regained his true size.

The night is almost over, and some of the patients are going to
bed. Harding, sensible even when drunk, suggests a plan: they
should tie up Turkle, making it seem that McMurphy went on
the rampage. Once McMurphy escapes, Harding says, it will be
unlikely that anyone will search for him.

McMurphy agrees. But he's tired and wants to know why the
others won't make the escape with him. They're still not ready,
Harding says. This answer seems to frighten McMurphy. He
asks, "Then what makes you think I am?"

Harding tries to answer. Like the Chief, Harding has gained
strength, thanks to the new patient's example. He no longer
uses his intelligence as a means of fooling himself or belittling
others. Even the hands that he found so embarrassing now
show his health; the Chief says that they "shaped what he said,"
honestly, without shame. Harding admits that he doesn't really
know why he and the other patients were so weak. In his case,
it may have been that society's disapproval of his
homosexuality sent him to the hospital. He knows, however,
that this isn't McMurphy's problem. "It's us," he says. Like the
Chief, Harding realizes that the patient's need for McMurphy
has brought McMurphy to sacrifice himself.

McMurphy plans to leave at 6 a.m., but first he wants to get
some sleep. As he says goodbye, Harding compares him to the
Lone Ranger, riding away from the people he's saved.
McMurphy tells Harding he is now the ward's new Bull Goose
Looney, and we realize that Harding is strong enough to
deserve the title he couldn't win at the book's start. As for the
Chief, McMurphy doesn't know what title he can claim-a hint,
perhaps, that the Chief has not yet found out who he should be,
or perhaps that he is so much larger than McMurphy that
McMurphy can't see him clearly.

The plan is put into action. Turkle is tied up. McMurphy and
Sandy go to bed, "more like two tired kids than a grown
woman and man in bed together to make love." The Chief's
description of the pair is reminiscent of McMurphy's own
description of his first girlfriend, Judy, and it's a reminder of
McMurphy's childlike vulnerability at this point in the novel.
He is weakened and tired: he and Sandy sleep too long and are
caught by aides in the morning.

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

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