One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Chapter 5
As the day progresses, Bromden sees the ward as filled with a thick fog, which makes it difficult to move and see anyone else. Just before one o'clock, the fog disappears, and the patients sit down for a group therapy session. One of the Chronics, Pete Bancini, starts saying how tired he is, and Big Nurse sends Billy over to calm him down. She tries to start the meeting, but McMurphy interrupts her with a joke, and she turns her attention to him. She reads part of his file out loud, which includes a charge of Rape, at which Doctor Spivey, a small, rabbity man, perks up. McMurphy explains it was statutory, and that the girl lied about her age, and that she was plenty willing.
The two have a brief conversation, during which McMurphy charms the doctor. Then Big Nurse (who the doctor names Nurse Ratched) takes over again. She invites the other men to start criticizing and questioning Harding; he is insecure about his relationship with his wife, and believes she might be sleeping with someone. McMurphy sits and watches, puzzled, without saying anything else.
The theory behind group therapy is in order for a patient in the ward to be successfully reintroduced to society, he must learn how to cope with a group. However, the sessions are only excuses for Big Nurse to encourage the men to tear each other apart. There is a book by the nurses' station where patients can write down secrets they hear about each other, for discussion in group. Any man who does this gets a gold star, and permission to sleep late one morning.
Bromden remembers a meeting where no one spoke for the first twenty minutes, but when they were prompted, all of them started confessing sins.
While this is happening, Pete comes over and yells, "'I'm tired,'" (pg. 49) but he does it in a way that's stronger than before. Big Nurse sends the aides over to take care of him, but when one of them comes near him, his arms swell up, and he hits the aide into a wall. The other two keep their distance. Bancini tries to explain about why he's tired. "'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.'" Chapter 5, pg. 52 Eventually, Big Nurse is able to inject him with a tranquilizer, and he is taken away.
After the meeting is over, McMurphy talks to Harding. He tells Harding that the session reminded him of a pecking party, where a group of hens, seeing a spot of blood on one of their number, will peck that hen to death. Harding tries to argue at first, but eventually gives in and admits that Big Nurse is doing it to break them down. McMurphy asks why they don't try and fight back; Cheswick, who is always looking for someone to follow, agrees with him. Harding explains that they are all, essentially, cowards, rabbits who don't have the strength of will to show resistance. McMurphy offers a bet: he will get the best of the Nurse by the end of the week.