One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

How does the patients' opinions of McMurphy change over the course of this chapter?

Part 4, Chapter 26

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Nurse Ratched pastes up statements of the patients’ financial doings over the past several months, suggesting that McMurphy has made money from the rest of the patients. McMurphy does not appear ashamed, however, and he brags that he might be able to retire to Florida with the money he has made. The patients start to wonder, however, what scam McMurphy is trying to pull.

She capitalizes on these fears and sets up a meeting without McMurphy, at which she implies that he is trying to fleece them of their money and that this is his only motivation in befriending them. She tells them that McMurphy is no martyr or saint but an old-fashioned con artist. Finally, she questions the profit that McMurphy made on the fishing trip. Harding breaks ranks and agrees that Nurse Ratched is correct, but he asks why they should criticize McMurphy when he is showing off his capitalist flair.

When confronted, McMurphy makes no pretense about his motives. Billy is the only one who openly defends McMurphy, but after the meeting McMurphy asks Billy for money for Candy’s visit. Chief Bromden still believes that McMurphy is a “giant come out of the sky to save us from the Combine,” but Nurse Ratched’s arguments make him start to question McMurphy’s deeper motives. These doubts deepen when McMurphy has Chief Bromden move the control panel in the tub room to win the bet he had with the other patients--and then gives Chief Bromden part of the profits. When Chief Bromden refuses to take the money, McMurphy confronts him about the cold treatment the patients are giving him. Chief Bromden tells him that the other patients are suspicious about how McMurphy is always winning things and accumulating their money.