One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Quotes

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Man, when you lose your laugh you lose your footing.

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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.

614

But it's the truth even if it didn't happen.

364

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.

345

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.

275

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. Hitler an example. Fair makes the old brain reel, doesn't it?

207

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.

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What do you think you are, for Chrissake, crazy or somethin'? Well you're not! You're not! You're no crazier than the average asshole out walkin' around on the streets and that's it.

179

They can't tell so much about you if you got your eyes closed.

150

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.

132

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?

119

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.

103

But he won’t let the pain blot out the humor no more’n he’ll let the humor blot out the pain.

81

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.

81

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.

66

I listened to them fade away till all I could hear was my memory of the sound.

64

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.

61

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.

59

He knew you can't really be strong until you can see a funny side of things.

54

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.

54

He's the sort of guy that gets a laugh out of people.

51

To Vik Lovell who told me dragons did not exist, then led me to their lairs ...

47

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.

47

I had to keep on acting deaf if i wanted to hear at all.

42

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...

32

More was revealed in a human face than a human being can bear face to face.

32

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.

31

The world news might not be therapeutic.

30

Memory whispers someplace in that jumbled machinery.

28

They wouldn't be so cocky if they knew what me and the moon have going.

27

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.

27

This world… belongs to the strong, my friend! The ritual of our existence is based on the strong getting stronger by devouring the weak.

26

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.

25

Take what you can use and let the rest go by.

25

To hell with that. A man goin' fishing with two whores from Portland don't have to take that crap.

24

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.

23

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.

22

I'd think, maybe he truly is something extraordinary. He's what he is, that's it. Maybe that makes him strong enough, being what he is.

20

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.

17

He was in his chair in the corner, resting a second before he came out for the next round -- in a long line of next rounds. The thing he was fighting, you couldn't whip it for good. All you could do was keep on whipping it, till you couldn't come out anymore and somebody else had to take your place.

17

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...

16

You get your visions through whatever gate you're granted.

16

It's fogging a little, but I won't slip off and hide in it. No...never again...

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It's the truth, even if it didn't happen......if they don't exist, how can a man see them?

16

What a Life: Give some of us pills to stop a fit, give the rest shock to start one.

16

There was times that week when I’d hear that full-throttled laugh, watch [McMurphy] scratching his belly and stretching and yawning and leaning back to wink at whoever he was joking with, everything coming to him just as natural as drawing breath, and I’d quit worrying about the Big Nurse and the Combine behind her. I’d think he was strong enough being his own self that he would never back down the way she was hoping he would. I’d think, maybe he truly is something extraordinary. He’s what he is, that’s it. Maybe that makes him strong enough, being what he is. The Combine hasn’t got to him in all these years; what makes the nurse think she’s gonna be able to do it in a few weeks? He’s not gonna let them twist him and manufacture him.

15

You're making sense, old man, a sense of your own. You're not crazy the way they think. Yes...I see...

14

There’s no doubt in my mind that McMurphy’s won, but I’m not sure what.

14

You seem to forget, Miss Flinn, that this is an institution for the insane.

14

He's got hands so long and white and dainty I think they carved each other out of soap, and sometimes they get loose and glide around in front of him free as two white birds until he notices them and traps them between his knees; it bothers him that he's got pretty hands.

14