Narrator; half Indian, 6’3 patient who has been on the ward the longest. Pretends to be deaf and dumb for the majority of his commitment. Hallucinates a thick fog that begins to wane with McMurphy’s… (read full character analysis)
The protagonist of the novel. A gambling, thirty-five year old womanizer, McMurphy was transferred to the ward after potentially faking psychosis, because he believed the ward would be more comfortable than the work farm… (read full character analysis)
Often referred to as “Big Nurse.” She runs the psychiatric ward with an iron fist, and functions as the novel’s antagonist. She’s a middle-aged, former Army nurse whose principal tactic of control is emasculating her… (read full character analysis)
College-educated patient. Helps McMurphy learn the ropes of the ward. Harding is a homosexual, but the social pressure to be straight cripples him. He is married, but he prefers to commit himself to the hospital… (read full character analysis)
A patient on the ward with a stutter. He appears young, but is actually thirty-one. He is completely dominated by his mother (a close friend of Nurse Ratched), and committed himself to the hospital… (read full character analysis)
A patient on the war and the first to support McMurphy’s rebellions against Nurse Ratched. He drowns in the pool in a possible suicide after McMurphy doesn’t stand up for Cheswick when he rebels against Nurse Ratched.
Chief Tee Ah Millatoona
Chief Bromden’s father, chief of the Columbia Indians. Married a white woman and took her last name to better assimilate, but their marriage was bad and after the government took his land he became an alcoholic.
A patient and former football player, he suffers from hallucinations. He is the first to reveal to McMurphy that involuntary commitments (such as McMurphy) can only leave the ward when Nurse Ratched says so. This realization quells McMurphy’s disobedience for a while.
A Black aide who works the night shift from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. He has a bit of a drinking problem, but is kinder than the other aides. He goes along with the nighttime party near the end of the novel.
Williams, Warren, Washington, and Geever
Black hospital aides. Williams, Warren, and Washington are on the day shift. Geever is on the night shift. Nurse Ratched believes they’re all hate-filled men who want to lash out at the patients, which makes them easier for her to control.
A strictly Catholic nurse, whose most salient feature is a birthmark on her face. She’s afraid of the patients, particularly when they talk about sex.
A prostitute from Portland, Oregon who knows McMurphy. She goes with the patients on the fishing trip, and sneaks into the ward at the end of the novel to have sex with Billy Bibbit.
A patient on the ward who suffers from hallucinations. McMurphy includes him in the card games and board games with the other patients.
A Chronic who arrived at the ward as an Acute, but got brain damage from shock therapy.
A Chronic who arrived at the ward as an Acute, but got brain damage from a botched brain surgery.
The oldest Chronic on the ward. He was a cavalry soldier in World War I. His wife brought him in a few years earlier when she could no longer care for him.
Old Pete Bancini
A Chronic on the ward. Suffered brain damage at birth. Constantly proclaims he is tired, and once says he was “born dead.”
An Acute; the only other patient on the ward who was involuntarily committed besides McMurphy. Scanlon wants to blow things up.
An epileptic patient who despises taking his medication because they cause his teeth to fall out. He gives them to the other epileptic, Fredrickson, who takes both his dose and Sefelt’s.
An epileptic patient who takes his medication and Sefelt’s.
A rambunctious, disobedient patient who used to be on the ward. Nurse Ratched subjected him to many rounds of shock therapy, and eventually returned to the ward docile and obedient. He was permitted to leave, and Nurse Ratched views his case as a cure.
The oldest vegetable on the ward. Chief Bromden has a dream one night that Blastic was taken to a mechanized slaughterhouse from his bed and murdered. When Bromden wakes, he learns that Blastic passed away during the night.
Rawler the Scrawler
A patient who was never quiet enough for Nurse Ratched, and was permanently sent to Disturbed. Ends up killing himself by cutting off both of his testicles and bleeding to death.
A prostitute who knows McMurphy.
A fat, bald man who gives tours of the ward to show that it is a nice and pleasant place to be.