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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey - Barron's Booknotes
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SCENE 11

McMurphy has emerged victorious from the battle of the
toothpaste and the battle of the card room. Now begins the
battle of the World Series, which becomes the focus for the rest
of Part I. In this scene we see that the hospital is beginning to
wear McMurphy down, and the reason is not just the Nurse or
the staff, but the patients, too, for they lack McMurphy's
courage.

McMurphy has planned to watch the World Series even though
the games won't be shown during the ward's scheduled
television time. The Nurse, of course, says he can't watch the
Series, a refusal that doesn't surprise McMurphy one bit. What
does surprise him is the patients' complete agreement with her.
Rules must always be followed. During the group meeting,
only Cheswick, a would-be rebel happy at last to have an ally,
backs McMurphy up.

McMurphy is disgusted at the patients' cowardice. Billy Bibbit
attempts to explain it but can't. We learn that Nurse Ratched
has spoiled McMurphy's black-jack games by first stopping the
patients from playing for money, then by locking away the
cigarettes they'd been betting with instead. The routine that
McMurphy disrupted is reasserting itself.



When McMurphy mentions the World Series again, Harding
makes fun of him, so angering McMurphy that he starts
discussing ways of breaking out of the hospital. The strong-
windows can't be broken with wooden chairs or tables; a bed is
too big to be used. Only the control panel in the tub room
would work, and at 400 pounds it's too heavy to be lifted. But
McMurphy is mad enough to give it a try, and he makes a bet
he'll succeed. He strains; for a second the doubters fall quiet as
it seems he might win. But he isn't strong enough; he loses his
bet, winning only the satisfaction of knowing he made the
attempt. Here is another example of foreshadowing: later in the
book we'll see another bet involving this control panel (which
is a symbol of the Combine's power), and another try at using it
to gain freedom.

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