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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Quotes from the novel by Ken Kesey

One flew east, one flew west,
One flew over the cuckoo's nest.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Children's folk rhyme, quoted in front pages of novel, from which it gets its title.
They're out there.
Black boys in white suits up before me to commit sex acts in the hall and get it mopped up before I can catch them.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Opening lines of novel, narrator Chief Bromden, Part 1.
I been silent so long now it's gonna roar out of me like floodwaters and you think the guy telling this is ranting and raving my God; you think this is too horrible to have really happened, this is too awful to be the truth! But, please. It's still hard for me to have a clear mind thinking on it. But it’s the truth even if it didn't happen.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Chief Bromden, Part 1.
Damn, what a sorry-looking outfit. You boys don't look so crazy to me.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Randle McMurphy to his fellow patients, Part 1.
The Big Nurse tends to get real put out if something keeps her outfit from running like a smooth , accurate, precision-made machine. The slightest thing messy or out of kilter or in the way ties her into a little white knot of tight-smiled fury. She walks around with that same doll smile crimpled between her chin and her nose and that same calm whir coming from her eyes, but down inside of her she's tense as steel. I know, I can feel it. And she don't relax a hair until she gets the nuisance attended to - what she calls "adjusted to surroundings."
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Chief Bromden describes Nurse Ratched, a cold and sadistic tyrant, Part 1.
I've watched her get more and more skilful over the years. Practice has steadied and strengthened her until now she wields a sure power that extends in all directions on hairlike wires so small for anybody's eye but mine, I see her sit in the centre of this web of wires like a watchful robot, tend her network with mechanical insect skill, know every second which wire runs where and just what current to send up to get the results she wants.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Chief Bromden describes Nurse Ratched, Part 1.
What she dreams of there in the centre of those wires is a world of precision efficiency and tidiness like a pocket watch with a glass back, a place where the schedule is unbreakable . . . Year by year she accumulates her ideal staff: doctors, all ages and types, come and rise up in front of her with ideas of their own about the way a ward should be run, some with backbone enough to stand behind their ideas, and she fixes these doctors with dry-ice eyes day in, day out, until they retreat with unnatural chills.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Chief Bromden describes Nurse Ratched, Part 1.
Yes. This is what I know. The ward is a factory for the Combine. It's for fixing up mistakes made in the neighborhoods and in the schools and in the churches, the hospital is. When a completed product goes back out into society, all fixed up good as new, better than new sometimes, it brings joy to the Big Nurse's heart.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Chief Bromden, Part 1.
I can't help it. I was born a miscarriage. I had so many insults I died. I was born dead. I can't help it. I'm tired.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Pete Bancini, Part 1.
The flock gets sight of a spot of blood on some chicken and they all go to peckin' at it, see, till they rip the chicken to shreds, blood and bones and feathers. But usually a couple of the flock gets spotted in the fracas, then it's their turn. And a few more gets spots and gets pecked to death, and more and more. Oh, a peckin' party can wipe out the whole flock in a matter of a few hours, buddy, I seen it. A mighty awesome sight. The only way to prevent it—with chickens—is to clip blinders on them. So's they can't see.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Randle McMurphy explains to Harding and the other parients what a pecking party is, after his first Group Meeting, Part 1.
But the rest are even scared to open up and laugh. You know, that's the first thing that got me about this place, that there wasn't anybody laughing. I haven't heard a real laugh since I came through that door, do you know that? Man, when you lose your laugh you lose your footing.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
McMurphy challenges other patients to stand up for themselves with Nurse Ratched, after his first Group Meeting, Part 1.
So you see my friend, it is somewhat as you stated: man has but one truly effective weapon against the juggernaut of modern matriarchy, but it certainly is not laughter. One weapon, and with every passing year in this hip, motivationally researched society, more and more people are discovering how to render that weapon useless and conquer those who have hitherto been conquerors.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Harding tells McMurphy and other patients that men's one weapon against women is the penis, Part 1.
But if they don't exist, how can a man see them?
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Chief Bromden, who suffers paranoia and hallucinations, Part 1.
I thought for a minute there I saw her whipped. Maybe I did. But I see now that it don't make any difference.... To beat her you don't have to whip her two out of three or three out of five, but every time you meet. As soon as you let down your guard, as soon as you lose once, she's won for good. And eventually we all got to lose. Nobody can help that.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Chief Bromden, on Nurse Ratched, as patients see McMurphy dominating the meeting, Part 1.
"But I tried though," he says. "Goddammit, I sure as hell did that much, now, didn't I?"
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
McMurphy, as he loses bet to lift panel off floor to use it to break out through window, Part 1.
And later, hiding in the latrine from the black boys, I'd take a look at my own self in the mirror and wonder how it was possible that anybody could manage such an enormous thing as being what he was.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Chief Bromden wonders how can McMurphy be what he is, Part 2.
But just as soon as we got to the pool he said he did wish something mighta been done, though, and dove into the water.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Charles Cheswich, the first patient to support McMurphy's revolt against Nurse Ratched's power. Cheswick drowns in the poll after McMurphy does not support him when he takes a stand against Nurse Ratched. Part 2.
"Well, screw you and 'what do you think?' I've got worries of my own without getting hooked with yours. So just quit!" He glares around the library at the other patients. "Alla you! Quit bugging me, goddammit!"
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
McMurphy to Harding and other patients, Part 2.
You think I wuh-wuh-wuh-want to stay in here? You think I wouldn't like a con-con-vertible and a guh-guh-girl friend? But did you ever have people l-l-laughing at you? No, because you're so b-big and so tough! Well, I'm not big and tough.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Billy Bibbit to McMurphy, Part 2.
Except the sun, on these three strangers, is all of a sudden way the hell brighter than usual and I can see the . . . seams where they're put together. And, almost, see the apparatus inside them take the words I just said and try to fit the words in here and there, this place and that, and when they find the words don’t have any place ready-made where they’ll fit, the machinery disposes of the words like they weren’t even spoken.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Chief Bromden remembers a scarring experience he had as a ten-year-old, Part 3.
While McMurphy laughs. Rocking farther and farther backward against the cabin top, spreading his laugh out across the water—laughing at the girl, at the guys, at George, at me sucking my bleeding thumb, at the captain back at the pier and the bicycle rider and the service-station guys and the five thousand houses and the Big Nurse and all of it. Because he knows you have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from running you plumb crazy.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
On the fishing expedition the patients laugh and feel complete humans again. This happens with McMurphy's guidance, his laughter booming in the face of chaos. Part 3.
And he'd swell up, aware that every one of those faces on Disturbed had turned toward him and was waiting, and he'd tell the nurse he regretted that he had but one life to give for his country and she could kiss his rosy red ass before he'd give up the goddam ship. Yeh!
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
A defiant McMurphy after getting series of Electro-Shock Therapy treatments to help persuade him to "face up to his problems", Part 3.
"What worries me, Billy," she said - I could hear the change in her voice - "is how your mother is going to take this."
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Nurse Ratchet to Billy Bibbit, after she finds him in bed naked with the young prostitute Candy, Part 3.
First Charles Cheswick and now William Bibbit! I hope you're finally satisfied. Playing with human lives - gambling with human lives - as if you thought yourself to be a God!
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Nurse Ratched to McMurphy, Part 3.
He gave a cry. At the last, falling backward, his face appearing to us for a second upside down before he was smothered on the floor by a pile of white uniforms, he let himself cry out:
A sound of cornered-animal fear and hate and surrender and defiance, that if you ever trailed coon or cougar or lynx is like the last sound the treed and shot and falling animal makes as the dogs get him, when he finally doesn't care any more about anything but himself and his dying.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
McMurphy is beaten off Nurse Ratched, whom he tries to strangle, ripping off her uniform and exposing her breasts, after he learns of Billy's suicide, Part 3.
I watched and tried to figure out what he would have done. I was only sure of one thing: he wouldn't have left something like that sit there in the day room with his name tacked on it for twenty or thirty years so the Big Nurse could use it as an example of what can happen if you buck the system. I was sure of that.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Chief Bromden, after Nurse Ratched has her revenge on McMurphy by arranging he have a lobotomy which leaves him a vegetable. The Chief smothers his friend with a pillow before making his escape. Part 3.
I been away a long time.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Chief Bromden, in last line of novel, after his escape, Part 3.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a 1962 novel by American author Ken Kesey set in an Oregon mental asylum. It is a powerful study of insanity and the indivual, the institutional process, and rebellion against authority and repression. Kesey was born on September 17, 1935, and died November 10, 2001.


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