In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, McMurphy and Chief planned to escape to Canada, and near the end of the movie, they trapped Turkle and made him drink in order to escape in the night. But, in the following morning, no one was escaped and only Bill was missing, however, later they found him inside the room. I believe no one was there in the hospital except Turkle, and even he was inside the room. So, I guess no one was around there to stop them from escaping.

Even though having all the possibilities, why didn't McMurphy escape with Chief?

Is anything related to this scene available in director's cut or in the book?

Am I missing anything?

2 Answers 2


In the novel, they've had a pretty good night. Several prostitutes were smuggled onto the ward along with a considerable amount of alcohol. There's some discussion of maybe escaping to "Mexico or Canada" but McMurphy and Turkle decide to have a bit of a snooze before they put their plan into motion despite the window being wide open.

Harding was supposedly going to wake them up at 6am (note that it's already gone 5am when the discussion was happening) so they could leave before the orderlies arrive at 6.30am but what actually happens is that they all end up sleeping late.

He squinted up at the dim clock. “It’s nearly five. I need me a little shut-eye before my big getaway. The day shift doesn’t come on for another two hours yet; let’s leave Billy and Candy down there a while longer. I’ll cut out about six. Sandy, honey, maybe an hour in the dorm would sober us up. What do you say? We got a long drive tomorrow, whether it’s Canada or Mexico or wherever.” Turkle and Harding and I stood up too. Everybody was still weaving pretty much, still pretty drunk, but a mellow, sad feeling, had drifted over the drunk. Turkle said he’d boot McMurphy and the girl out of bed in an hour.


I shook his hand, and we all started for the dorm. McMurphy told Turkle to tear up some sheets and pick out some of his favorite knots to be tied with. Turkle said he would. I got into my bed in the graying light of the dorm and heard McMurphy and the girl get into his bed. I was feeling numb and warm. I heard Mr. Turkle open the door to the linen room out in the hall, heave a long, loud, belching sigh as he pulled the door closed behind him. My eyes got used to the dark, and I could see McMurphy and the girl snuggled into each other’s [259] shoulders, getting comfortable, more like two tired little kids than a grown man and a grown woman in bed together to make love.

And that’s the way the black boys found them when they came to turn on the dorm lights at six-thirty.


In the end, Murphy, just like Billy and some of the others, isn't ready yet. That he doesn't get away is where the writer gives us the biggest clue that this is an allegory, and we need to look beyond the characters. Murphy's allegorical role is to provoke and unleash the primal huge power that has been silent and subdued until now. That power, in the form of the chief, is the only key to true liberation, because once provoked, it cannot be stopped.


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