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Free Study Guide-One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey-Free Notes
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PART III

Summary

Part III deals mainly with the fishing trip, where the patients learn to fend for themselves in the world outside; but it begins with showing McMurphy's success. After the incident with the broken glass, he has his own way for awhile. When he is refused an accompanied pass, he smashes the newly replaced glass. McMurphy even breaks the nose of one of the orderlies while playing basketball, and he flirts with all the student nurses. When the glass is replaced a second time, Scanlon breaks it again with the basketball, which is confiscated by the Nurse.

During this part, the Chief starts talking to McMurphy after fifteen years of silence, and his fog disappears. Once the Chief breaks his silence, he talks a lot, even telling about his childhood. He explains to McMurphy about his father and mother and how their land was taken away from them in order to build a hydroelectric dam. When he was a small boy, he says people treated him as if he were invisible. He learned to listen and not speak; therefore, his pretending to be a deaf mute was not difficult for him.

The Chief agrees to go on the fishing trip that McMurphy is planning; most of the other patients also agree to go along, in spite of Nurse Ratched's preying upon their fears and warning them of storms. The Doctor accompanies them, and Candy Star and another prostitute are invited by McMurphy to serve as a "chaperones". On the way to the boat, McMurphy teaches the patients how to use their insanity to intimidate people.


At the service station, the operators try to fleece the patients until McMurphy steps in. He tells them that Billy, Harding, the Chief and others, including himself, are criminally insane and have killed many people. The workers decide to give them a discount and agrees to merely send the bill to the hospital. This boosts the confidence of the inmates. Harding says, "Never before did I realize that mental illness could have the aspect of power, power. Think of it: perhaps the more insane a man is the more powerful he could become."

During the trip to the boat, the Chief sees the sign of the Combine at work in the outside world. He notices the houses that all look identical, as if they have been punched out by a machine. Even the adults and children look the same, except for one child, who looks bruised and out of place. The Chief compares the "different" boy with the patients, for they are all rejected by society.

When they reach the boat, the captain refuses to take them out, because he has no written authority to do so. To save the day, McMurphy steals the boat and asks George to sail it. McMurphy goes below the deck with Candy. The other patients have a great time, drinking and fishing. They even manage to brave a storm. Harding, Billy, and George emerge as heroes when they forgo lifejackets for the others to wear. McMurphy takes a back seat, encouraging the others take the lead. When they get back on shore, the patients seem to have changed for the better. The fishing trip is an overall success.

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