Randle P. McMurphy is a brawler, found guilty of gambling and rape, who contrives to serve a short sentence in an airy mental institution rather than in a prison. This, he learns, is a mistake. He clashes with the head nurse, a fierce artinet. Quickly, he takes over the yard and accomplishes what the medical profession has been unable to do for twelve years: he makes a presumed deaf and a dumb American Indian talk. He leads others out of introversion, stages a revolt so that they can see the world series on television, and arranges a rollicking midnight party with liquor and chippies. For the first offenses, the head nurse has him submit to shock treatment. For the Party, too horrid for her, she forces him to submit to a final correction of frontal lobotomy.