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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest book cover

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Quotes

All I know is this: nobody's very big in the first place, and it looks to me like everybody spends their whole life tearing everybody else down.
He knows that 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.
But it's the truth even if it didn't happen.
If you don't watch it people will force you one way or the other, into doing what they think you should do, or into just being mule-stubborn and doing the opposite out of spite.
That ain't me, that ain't my face. It wasn't even me when I was trying to be that face. I wasn't even really me them; I was just being the way I looked, the way people wanted.
The stars up close to the moon were pale; they got brighter and braver the farther they got out of the circle of light ruled by the giant moon.
They can't tell so much about you if you got your eyes closed.
High high in the hills , high in a pine tree bed. She's tracing the wind with that old hand, counting the clouds with that old chant, Three geese in a flock one flew east one flew west one flew over the cuckoo's nest.
We'd just shared the last beer and slung the empty can out the window at a stop sign and were just waiting back to get the feel of the day, swimming in that kind of tasty drowsiness that comes over you after a day of going hard at something you enjoy doing -- half sunburned and half drunk and keeping awake only because you wanted to savor the taste as long as you could.
No, my friend. We are lunatics from the hospital up the highway, psycho-ceramics, the cracked pots of mankind. Would you like me to decipher a Rorschach for you?.
You had a choice: you could either strain and look at things that appeared in front of you in the fog, painful as it might be, or you could relax and lose yourself.
But he won’t let the pain blot out the humor no more’n he’ll let the humor blot out the pain.
He knew you can't really be strong until you can see a funny side of things.
I lay in bed the night before the fishing trip and thought it over, about my being deaf, about the years of not letting on I heard what was said, and I wonder if I can ever act any other way again. But I remembered one thing: it wasn't me that started acting deaf; it was people that first started acting like I was too dumb to hear or see or say anything at all.
What makes people so impatient is what I can't figure; all the guy had to do was wait.
I don't think you fully understand the public, my friend; in this country, when something is out of order, then the quickest way to get it fixed is the best way.
He knows that there's no better way in the world to aggravate somebody who's trying to make it hard for you than by acting like you're not bothered.
I listened to them fade away till all I could hear was my memory of the sound.
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.
To Vik Lovell who told me dragons did not exist, then led me to their lairs ...
What the Chronics are - or most of us - are machines with flaws inside that can't be repaired, flaws born in, or flaws beat in over so many years of the guy running head-on into solid things that by the time the hospital found him he was bleeding rust in some vacant lot.
His whole body shakes with the strain as he tries to lift something he knows he can't lift, something everybody knows he can't lift. But, for just a second, when we hear the cement grind at our feet, we think, by golly, he might do it.
I had to keep on acting deaf if i wanted to hear at all.
The secret of being a top-notch con man is being able to know what the mark wants, and how to make him think he's getting it.
It wasn't the practices, I don't think, it was the feeling that the great, deadly, pointing forefinger of society was pointing at me--and the great voice of millions chanting, 'Shame. Shame. Shame.' It's society's way of dealing with someone different.
More was revealed in a human face than a human being can bear face to face.
Like a cartoon world, where the figures are flat and outlined in black, jerking through some kind of goofy story that might be real funny if it weren't for the cartoon figures being real guys...
They wouldn't be so cocky if they knew what me and the moon have going.
The world news might not be therapeutic.
This world… belongs to the strong, my friend! The ritual of our existence is based on the strong getting stronger by devouring the weak.
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.
Memory whispers someplace in that jumbled machinery.
To hell with that. A man goin' fishing with two whores from Portland don't have to take that crap.
All that five thousand kids lived in those five thousand houses, owned by guys that got off the train. The houses looked so much alike that, time and time again, the kids went home by mistake to different houses and different families. Nobody ever noticed.
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.
I'd think, That ain't me, that ain't my face. It wasn't even me when I was trying to be that face. I wasn't even really me then; I was just being the way I looked, the way people wanted. It don't seem like I ever have been me.
You get your visions through whatever gate you're granted.
Society is what decides who's sane and who isn't, so you got to measure up.
Colonel Matterson reading from wrinkled scripture of that long yellow hand: The flag is America. America is the plum. The peach. The watermelon. America is the gumdrop. The pumpkin seed. America is television. Now, the cross is Mexico. Mexico is the walnut. The hazelnut. The acorn. Mexico is the rainbow. The rainbow is wooden. Mexico is wooden. Now, the green sheep is Canada Canada is the fir tree. The wheat field. The calendar. The night is the Pacific Ocean.
What a Life: Give some of us pills to stop a fit, give the rest shock to start one.
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.
It's the truth, even if it didn't happen... ...if they don't exist, how can a man see them?.
The most work he did on [the urinals] was to run a brush once or twice apiece, singing some song as loud as he could in time to the swishing brush; then he'd splash in some Clorox and he'd be through. ... And when the Big Nurse...came in to check McMurphy's cleaning assignment personally, she brought a little compact mirror and she held it under the rim of the bowls. She walked along shaking her head and saying, "Why, this is an outrage... an outrage..." at every bowl. McMurphy sidled right along beside her, winking down his nose and saying in answer, "No; that's a toilet bowl...a TOILET bowl.
There’s no doubt in my mind that McMurphy’s won, but I’m not sure what.
Then—as he was talking—a set of tail-lights going past lit up McMurphy's face, and the windshield reflected an expression that was allowed only because he figured it'd be too dark for anybody in the car to see, dreadfully tired and strained and frantic, like there wasn't enough time left for something he had to do...
It's fogging a little, but I won't slip off and hide in it. No...never again...
You're making sense, old man, a sense of your own. You're not crazy the way they think. Yes...I see...
One flew east, one flew west, one flew over the cuckoo's nest.
You’re just a young kid. What are you doin’ here? You oughta be out in a convertible, why… bird-doggin’ chicks and bangin’ beaver. What are ya doin’ here, for Christ’s sake? What’s funny about that? Jesus, I mean, you guys do nothin’ but complain about how you can’t stand it in this place here and then you haven’t got the guts just to walk out!.
...you have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep the world from running you plumb crazy.
A bluetick hound bays out there in the fog, running scared and lost because he can’t see. No tracks on the ground but the one’s he’s making, and he sniffs in every direction with his cold red-rubber nose and picks up no scent but his own fear, fear burning down into him like steam.
I'm accustomed to being top man. I been a bull goose catskinner for every gyppo logging operation in the Northwest and bull goose gambler all the way from Korea, was even bull goose pea weeder on that pea farm at Pendleton -- so I figure if I'm bound to be a loony, then I'm bound to be a stompdown dadgum good one.
...you have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep in balance." [Chief Bromden].
Papa says if you don’t watch it people will force you one way or the other, into doing what they think you should do, or into just being mule-stubborn and doing the opposite out of spite.
He hadn't let what he looked like run his life one way or the other, any more than he'd let the Combine mill him into fitting where they wanted him to fit.
He’s got hands so long and white and dainty I think they carved each other out of soap.
she likes a rigged game.
Billy here has been talkin' about slicin' his wrists again, so is there seven of you guys who'd like to join him and make it therapeutic?.
No one's ever dared come out and say it before, but there's not a man among us that doesn't think it, that doesn't feel just as you do about her and the whole business - feel it somewhere down deep in his scared little soul.
It's the truth, even if it didn't happen.
No, that nurse ain't some kinda monster chicken, buddy, what she is is a ball-cutter. I've seen a thousand of 'em, old and young, men and women. Seen 'em all over the country and in the homes- people who try to make you weak so they can get you to toe the line, to follow their rules, to live like they want you to. And the best way to do this, to get you to knuckle under, is to weaken you by gettin' you where it hurts the worst.
... 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.
She asked if we were calm enough for her to take off the cuffs, and McMurphy nodded. He had slumped over with his head hung and his elbows between his knees and looked completely exhausted--it hadn't occurred to me that it was just as hard for him to stand straight as it was for me.