Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

by

Susannah Cahalan

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Apartments Symbol Icon

Throughout her memoir, Susannah very explicitly ties her apartment in Manhattan to her sense of adulthood and independence. She treats it as very literally a symbol of her independence and is distraught when her parents refuse to allow her to return to it when she begins suffering seizures and needs constant supervision. She's similarly upset, even if she struggles to admit it, when she's forced to move out of her apartment for good following her release from the hospital. This is a heavy blow, as it drives home the fact that Susannah is wholly incapable of living alone. Though she struggles with the transition, Susannah finds her independence again when she moves in with Stephen. This move also reinforces the fact that Susannah has truly reentered adulthood and taken the very mature step of living with a romantic partner.

Apartments Quotes in Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

The Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness quotes below all refer to the symbol of Apartments. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Identity and Illness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon and Schuster edition of Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness published in 2012.
Chapter 13 Quotes

Though my behavior was worsening day by day, it was still difficult for her to reconcile the old image that she had of her daughter as trustworthy, hard working, and independent with the new, unpredictable, and dangerous one.

Related Characters: Susannah (speaker), Mom, Dad
Related Symbols: Apartments
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 39 Quotes

In many ways, during that recovery period at my mother's home, I associated the pills—and the fights they engendered—with her. In a practical sense, I needed her to portion out the pills because it was far too complicated a task for me at the time. In a more emotional sense, though, I began to feel that she, like the pills, embodied my contemptible dependence.

Related Characters: Susannah (speaker), Mom (speaker)
Related Symbols: Apartments
Page Number: 189
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 42 Quotes

It was one thing to live at my parents' house for a few months, knowing that I had my own place just a train ride away. Now my only home was with my mom; it was like a complete return to childhood.

Related Characters: Susannah (speaker), Mom, Allen
Related Symbols: Apartments
Page Number: 203
Explanation and Analysis:
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Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness PDF

Apartments Symbol Timeline in Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

The timeline below shows where the symbol Apartments appears in Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Identity and Illness Theme Icon
Storytelling, Memory, and Emotion Theme Icon
...wakes one morning to find bites on her left arm, and is concerned that her apartment is infested with bedbugs. Susannah calls an exterminator to check her apartment, and he deems... (full context)
Identity and Illness Theme Icon
As Susannah walks home to her apartment in Hell's Kitchen later that evening, she ruminates on the day's disasters. She describes her... (full context)
Responsibility and the Medical System Theme Icon
When Susannah finishes clearing out her apartment, she suddenly feels a pit in her stomach. As she stands, intense pain flashes through... (full context)
Chapter 4
Identity and Illness Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
After the movie, Dad walks Susannah back to her apartment to check it for bedbugs. When they get close to her apartment, however, Susannah's stomach... (full context)
Chapter 9
Identity and Illness Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
...home to Summit, New Jersey, but Susannah refuses. She feels that staying in her own apartment is exceptionally important, but finally, they convince her to go. (full context)
Chapter 13
Identity and Illness Theme Icon
Storytelling, Memory, and Emotion Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Responsibility and the Medical System Theme Icon
...day, Mom finally gives in to Susannah's pleading and allows her to return to her apartment, as long as she agrees to spend a night with Dad. Susannah agrees and happily... (full context)
Identity and Illness Theme Icon
...Giselle heads downstairs and Susannah tries to talk Dad into letting her stay in the apartment alone. Dad finally convinces her to come with him. They chat pleasantly as they walk... (full context)
Chapter 42
Identity and Illness Theme Icon
Storytelling, Memory, and Emotion Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
In July, Susannah's lease on her apartment expires, so she and Dad meet to pack up her things. Susannah only writes one... (full context)
Identity and Illness Theme Icon
Susannah brought all of her mail home from her apartment with her, but doesn't open any of it until she begins taking her spin class.... (full context)
Chapter 52
Storytelling, Memory, and Emotion Theme Icon
A year after she moves in with Stephen, Susannah begins unpacking boxes from her old apartment. She discovers a postcard in a little paper bag of a famous painting of a... (full context)