One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Important Characters

Chief Bromden

Chief Bromden is the narrator of the novel. The son of a white mother and Native American father, Chief Bromden is the patient who has been on the ward the longest, and suffers from delusions and hallucinations. Although he can hear and speak, the Chief is believed to be deaf and dumb, and this makes him an observer rather than a participant in much of the novel's action. Chief Bromden perceives himself as being physically small, but his friendship with McMurphy helps return him to his full potential, culminating in his escape from the hospital.

Randle McMurphy (Mack)

McMurphy is transferred to the hospital from the Pendleton Work Farm in an attempt to con his way out of his sentence. A large, red-headed man with a scar on his nose, McMurphy is a dominating presence both physically and psychologically. He describes himself as a gambler, and makes frequent bets with his fellow patients, sometimes unscrupulously. McMurphy is engaged in a battle of wills with Nurse Ratched for most of the novel, but he is eventually broken down by the insanity of the institution, and falls victim to it. A savior figure to the other patients, McMurphy can be seen as the novel's true protagonist, despite it being told from Chief Bromden's point of view.

Nurse Ratched

The nurse in charge of the ward, Nurse Ratched is a manipulative totalitarian and is the novel's antagonist. A former Army nurse, she seems more invested in breaking the patients down so that she can control them, rather than rehabilitating them. She is described as sexless, despite having very large breasts that McMurphy eventually exposes when he attacks her.

Dale Harding

A thin, intelligent man who is college educated and president of the patient's council, Harding is McMurphy's main source of information as to the workings of the hospital. Although he is married to a very beautiful woman, Harding is not fulfilling to her sexually, likely because he is a homosexual. He describes knowing he was "different" at a young age, and engaging in shameful acts, likely homosexual, which would have been considered criminal at the time. After the events of the novel, Harding is eventually inspired to check out of the hospital.

Charles Cheswick

A small, chubby man who is prone to outbursts and quick to champion McMurphy. Cheswick is sent to the Distrubed ward after an outburst where McMurphy fails to support him, and drowns in the pool - a likely suicide - shortly afterwards.

Billy Bibbit

A timid man born with a severe stutter, and who has been on the ward for about five years. Billy's manipulative mother is a receptionist at the hospital and good friends with Nurse Ratched, who uses this information to control Billy. Billy is characterized as a self harmer, and has razor blade scars on his wrists and cigarette burns on his hands. A virgin, Billy eventually loses his virginity to Candy, which seems to cause him to gain confidence until Nurse Ratched threatens to tell his mother, resulting in his suicide.

Dr. Spivey

Attending psychiatrist on the ward, Dr. Spivey is more interested in his theories than day to day patient care, and generally relinquishes control to Nurse Ratched. Dr. Spivey seems to like McMurphy and usually agrees with his ideas, even going along on the fishing trip with the patients.


Another patient at the hospital, Martini's illness is characterized by frequent hallucinations, but he is social in playing games and going on outings with the other patients.


The only Acute patient besides McMurphy who isn't at the hospital voluntarily, Scanlon has fantasies about blowing things up.


An Acute paitent who suffers from epileptic seizures when not on medication, which he refuses to take because it causes his gums to rot.


Another Acute who suffers from seizures, Frederickson takes Sefelt's medication as well as his own.

Old Pete Bancini

Chronic patient, born with brain damage thanks to a set of tongs used to retrieve him from his mother's womb. Prone to outbursts about how tired he is, or being born dead.

George Sorenson (Rub A Dub)

A former fisherman who is obsessed with cleanliness, George captains the boat on the fishing trip.

Old Blastic

A Chronic patient in a vegetative state. Chief Bromden has a dream about Blastic being murdered in a mechanical torture factory, and awakes to find he has actually died.


A patient who came in as an Acute but has ended up a Chronic due to too much electro shock treatments. Ellis is nailed to the wall during the day and usually covered in his own urine.


A former Acute patient who is now a Chronic due to a botched lobotomy.

Colonel Matterson

The oldest patient on the ward and a Chronic, fought in the first World War and was admitted by his wife a few years prior to the novel.


Former patient on the ward, who fought Nurse Ratched's authority. Suggested to have been raped by the aides and eventually released after having a lobotomy.

Warren, Washington, Williams, and Geever

Nurse Ratched's aides, all African American, and depicted as her evil henchmen. It is suggested by Chief Bromden that they rape patients, and are seen as cruel and abusive to George, resulting in McMurphy and Chief Bromden fighting them.

Mr. Turkle

Overnight aide on the ward, Mr. Turkle is the only African American character with some positive characteristics. He lets Candy in the night of the party, and ends up joining in with the patients.


Prostitute and friend of McMurphy, Candy comes to take the patients on the fishing trip, and then to the ward for the party. Billy loses his virginity to Candy.

Related Links:

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Quotes
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Part I Summary
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Part II Summary
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Summary
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Quiz
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Part I Quiz
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Part II Quiz
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Part III Quiz
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Part IV Quiz
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Part III Summary
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Part IV Summary
Literature Summaries

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