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Nurse Ratched posts the patients’ financial statements on the bulletin board to show that everyone’s account, except McMurphy’s, shows a steady decline in funds. The other patients begin to question the motivations for his actions. When a phone call keeps McMurphy away from a Group Meeting, Ratched insinuates that everything he does is motivated by the desire for personal gain. Later, Harding argues that they have all gotten their money’s worth and that McMurphy never hid his con-man ways from them.
McMurphy asks Bromden if he can move the control panel, as a way of testing how big Bromden has grown. Bromden is able to move it half a foot. McMurphy makes a rigged bet with the other patients that someone could lift the control panel, knowing, of course, that Bromden has already lifted it. Bromden lifts it, and McMurphy wins the bet. Bromden, uncomfortable with McMurphy’s deceit, refuses to accept the five dollars that McMurphy offers him later. McMurphy asks why all of a sudden everyone acts like he is a traitor, and Bromden tells him it is because he is always winning things.
Ratched orders that everyone who went on the fishing trip be cleansed because of the company they kept. George has a phobia regarding cleanliness and begs the aides not to spray him with their smelly salve. McMurphy and Bromden get into a fistfight with the aides to defend George, so Ratched sends them to Disturbed. The kind Japanese nurse who tends them explains that army nurses have a habit of trying to run the place as if it were an army hospital and are “a little sick themselves.” One of the patients wakes Bromden during the night by yelling in his face, “I’m starting to spin, Indian! Look me, look me!” Bromden wonders how McMurphy can sleep, plagued as he must be by “a hundred faces like that,” desperate for his attention.
Nurse Ratched tells McMurphy that he can avoid electroshock therapy by admitting he was wrong. He refuses, telling her “those Chinese Commies could have learned a few things from you, lady.” He and Bromden are sent for the treatment, but McMurphy does not seem afraid at all. He voluntarily climbs onto the cross-shaped table and wonders aloud if he will get a “crown of thorns.” Bromden, however, is afraid and struggles mightily. During the treatment and afterward, Bromden experiences a rush of images and memories from his childhood. When he regains consciousness, he resists the fog and works to clear his head, the first time he has managed to do so after receiving shock therapy. He knows that this time he “had them beat,” and he is not subjected to any more treatments. McMurphy, however, receives three more treatments that week. He maintains an unconcerned attitude about it, but Bromden can tell that the treatments are affecting him. Ratched realizes that McMurphy is growing bigger in the eyes of the other men because he is out of sight, so she decides to bring him back from Disturbed.
The other patients know that Ratched will continue to harass McMurphy, so they urge him to escape. McMurphy reminds them that Billy’s date with Candy is later that night. That night, McMurphy persuades Turkle to open the window for Candy. She arrives with Sandy in tow, carrying copious amounts of alcohol. Everyone mixes vodka with cough syrup, while Turkle and McMurphy smoke joints. Sefelt has a seizure while with Sandy, and Harding sprinkles pills over them both, declaring that they are “witnessing the end, the absolute, irrevocable, fantastic end.” Sometime after four in the morning, Billy and Candy retreat to the Seclusion Room.
As it gets closer to morning, they realize that they are going to have to figure something out before the staff arrives. Harding tells McMurphy that they can tie up Turkle, so it looks like the mess created by their party was all part of McMurphy’s escape attempt. Turkle can keep his job, the other patients will not get into trouble, and McMurphy can drive off to Canada or Mexico with Candy and Sandy. McMurphy asks whether any of the rest of them would want to escape with him. Harding replies by saying that he is almost ready to leave on his own, with all “the traditional red tape.” He says that the rest of them are “still sick men in lots of ways. But at least there’s that: they are sick men now. No more rabbits, Mack.”
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