Girl, Interrupted

by

Susanna Kaysen

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Girl, Interrupted: Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
One day, another Lisa arrives. The girls call this new Lisa by her full name, Lisa Cody, to distinguish her from the “real Lisa,” who, “like a queen,” continues going only by her first name. The two Lisas quickly become friends, and one of their favorite activities to do together is to hold phone conversations. The phone booths on the ward are the patients’ only real privacy, and the only place one can have a “real” conversation—even if just with oneself. The Lisas’ conversations are loud, manic, and frequent.  After a month, Lisa Cody’s diagnosis comes in: she, too, is a sociopath, and she is elated, as she wants to be like the “real” Lisa in all things. Lisa, on the other hand, is less happy, as she had enjoyed the “distinction” of being the only sociopath on the ward.
Lisa Cody’s arrival is one of the uncanny moments on the ward which, like the episode with Wade and Georgina, seems stranger than fiction. The competing Lisas, who simultaneously feel affection for one another, mirror one another, and hate one another, is a tale whose end is contained in its beginning. Once Lisa Cody becomes diagnosed as a sociopath, it becomes clear that there can’t be two Lisas who are both sociopaths on the ward, and as the weeks go by, the other patients on the ward will watch as the two Lisas tear one another apart.
Themes
Isolation and Seclusion Theme Icon
Women and Medicine Theme Icon
Sanity vs. Insanity Theme Icon
Manipulation, Restriction, and Control Theme Icon
Related Quotes
After Lisa Cody gets her diagnosis, the two Lisas begin acting out more and more. Everyone realizes that the “real” Lisa is trying to prove that Lisa Cody isn’t a sociopath. Lisa tongues her sleeping meds for a week, and then takes them all at once. When Lisa Cody imitates this act of rebellion, she throws the pills back up. When Lisa puts a cigarette out on her arm, Lisa Cody burns a “tiny welt” onto her wrist and then runs her arm under cold water for twenty minutes. The two Lisas compare life histories, and when Lisa learns that Lisa Cody grew up in the wealthy, sheltered Greenwich, Connecticut, she makes fun of her. Lisa shows off her track marks from years of heroin use, and Lisa Cody attempts to prove that she is a junkie, too, but Lisa calls her a “suburban junkie” who was only “playing.”
As the real Lisa leans into her mission to bully and intimidate the new Lisa, their slights, insults, and attacks against one another escalate in seriousness and nastiness alike. Lisa’s attack on Lisa Cody can be seen—like Susanna’s suicide—as an attack on the weaker, worse parts of herself which she wants to get rid of. The vendetta between the two girls is also, more literally, a struggle for dominance in a world where all the women on the ward have been disempowered to a certain extent by their disorders and diseases. 
Themes
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Women and Medicine Theme Icon
Sanity vs. Insanity Theme Icon
Manipulation, Restriction, and Control Theme Icon
Lisa wants to find a way to get rid of Lisa Cody once and for all. One evening, when the nurses turn on all the lights in the ward, they find that all the lightbulbs have vanished. The head nurse forces all the patients to hunt in the darkness for the missing bulbs, but Lisa sits the hunt out in the TV room. Lisa Cody finds them, and as she pulls them from their hiding place in the phone booth, she shatters them all. Two days later, Lisa Cody disappears. The search for her goes on for a week, but no one ever finds her—she is presumed long gone, off the grounds. Months later, after one of the real Lisa’s escapes, she returns and informs the other patients that while she was out, she saw Lisa Cody, who is, she reports, a “real junkie” at last. 
Lisa Cody refuses to let herself be steamrolled by the real Lisa, but Lisa’s prank creates enough of a stir that Lisa Cody realizes that she is in a world where the rules that governed her previous life don’t apply here. After Lisa Cody’s escape, when Lisa finally reports that Lisa Cody has become a “real junkie” at last, there is admiration and even jealousy in her words. Lisa Cody could not beat Lisa on the ward, but she finally proved herself in the real world—ironically, by becoming a junkie.
Themes
Isolation and Seclusion Theme Icon
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Women and Medicine Theme Icon
Sanity vs. Insanity Theme Icon
Manipulation, Restriction, and Control Theme Icon
A scanned insert from Susanna’s medical file reveals that one nurse, while completing checks, found Susanna engaged in sexual activity with a man; another nurse reports that Susanna has recently expressed needing to “break ice cubes to get rid of anger;” a third note, from a third nurse, reveals that Susanna has lately been teaching the staff and patients how to fold paper flowers, and is slowly becoming “more sociable.”
This insert foreshadows the troublesome times ahead of Susanna, as she tests the boundaries on the ward and works through her feelings of anger until she finally starts to become a real member of the community of which she is now a part, whether she likes it or not.
Themes
Isolation and Seclusion Theme Icon
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