Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

by

Susannah Cahalan

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James Character Analysis

James is Susannah's younger brother. Despite their five-year age difference, they're very close. When Susannah becomes ill he's midway through his first year at college, and Mom and Dad keep the severity of Susannah's illness from him. They only allow them to speak on the phone after Susannah has been in the hospital for several weeks, and hearing how difficult it is for Susannah to speak makes James cry. When Susannah is released from the hospital and James comes home for the summer, he spends much of his free time with her and drives her around. He talks about bands and movies, something that she used to do but can't anymore.
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James Character Timeline in Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

The timeline below shows where the character James appears in Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 10
Storytelling, Memory, and Emotion Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Responsibility and the Medical System Theme Icon
While Susannah is with Dr. Levin, Mom calls Susannah's younger brother, James. She explains what's going on with Susannah and asks James his opinion on Susannah's drinking.... (full context)
Chapter 24
Love and Family Theme Icon
The following morning, Mom finally calls James and lets Susannah speak to him on the phone. Susannah says his name over and... (full context)
Chapter 36
Identity and Illness Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Another instance that stands out in Susannah's mind is the first time she saw James. When James arrives at Mom's house after finishing his first year at college, Susannah and... (full context)
Chapter 37
Identity and Illness Theme Icon
...Summit alone, though they don't allow her to take the train to see Stephen alone. James spends all his time when he's not working with Susannah. They get ice cream and... (full context)
Identity and Illness Theme Icon
Storytelling, Memory, and Emotion Theme Icon
Responsibility and the Medical System Theme Icon
Once, Susannah asks James to drive her to get a pedicure in preparation for a family wedding. She promises... (full context)
Storytelling, Memory, and Emotion Theme Icon
Despite Susannah's zombie-like behavior, both James and Stephen notice moments when it seems as though the old Susannah is still there.... (full context)