One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

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Gambling Symbol Icon
Randle McMurphy is quick to introduce himself as an avid gambler, and tries to find the patient on the ward in charge of gambling and debts. McMurphy uses gambling throughout the book as a way to feel comfort and camaraderie with the men. He enjoys winning money, but gambling comes to represent how the men are given the opportunity to actually own something and realize that they have the agency to decide how to use their money. Moreover, gambling is symbolic of the ongoing game between McMurphy and Nurse Ratched—how they keep raising the stakes in their continuous battle against one another for control.
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Gambling Symbol Timeline in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

The timeline below shows where the symbol Gambling appears in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part One
Institutional Control vs. Human Dignity Theme Icon
The Combine: Machine, Nature, and Man Theme Icon
Emasculation and Sexuality Theme Icon
McMurphy introduces himself to everyone in the day room as a gambler and a fool, still laughing. He says he requested a transfer from the Pendleton Work... (full context)
Institutional Control vs. Human Dignity Theme Icon
The Combine: Machine, Nature, and Man Theme Icon
...McMurphy adds pennies to the game to raise the stakes so it’s more of a gamble. Bromden notes that McMurphy is making a very conscious effort not to lose his temper... (full context)
Part Four
Sanity v. Insanity Theme Icon
Institutional Control vs. Human Dignity Theme Icon
Social Pressure and Shame Theme Icon
Emasculation and Sexuality Theme Icon
...introducing himself like he had at the ward over a month before, asking where the gambling boss is on this floor. A Japanese nurse, who is nice to them, explains that... (full context)