Girl, Interrupted

by

Susanna Kaysen

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Girl, Interrupted: Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
One day, Susanna has a visitor—a man. It is not her “troublesome” boyfriend, who is no longer even her boyfriend anymore. The visitor is not her father, or her high school English teacher with whom she’d had a relationship—it is a friend of her father’s. Susanna is happy to see him and the two of them embrace. He tells Susanna that she looks well, and asks her “what they do to [her] in here.” He remarks on how terrible the ward is, though Susanna insists that no one is doing anything bad to her and the hospital is not all that terrible.
Throughout Susanna’s memoir, the men she encounters often represent temptation—but they also often require Susanna to shrink herself or to discount herself. As Susanna fields this visit from a friend of her family, she is tempted to see her life in the ward through the lens of her past, though she has been doing well in McLean and making process in her “new” life there.
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
Her father’s friend, Jim, beckons Susanna over to a window and points down to the parking lot, where his red sports car is parked. Susanna admires Jim’s car, and he offers to take her away in it. Susanna wonders if the “secret of life” is just running away. She tells Jim that she can’t go with him, but Jim presses Susanna further, offering to take her away to England where no one from McLean will find her. Susanna imagines the life she could have in England, but her imagination is hazy in contrast to the clarity of the familiar things on the ward. Susanna refuses Jim’s offer, and he leaves. Susanna watches from the window for a few minutes as Jim gets into his car, and drives away. After Jim is gone, she returns to the TV room, sits with Lisa, and settles in to watch some television.
As Susanna is tempted to run away, she considers whether flight is the “secret of life.” To flee McLean, though, would be to flee all the progress she has made, and all the new people she has met and become fond of. Though Jim’s offer of escape is tempting, Susanna is unable to picture what freedom would look like, as she does not feel particularly controlled or confined on the ward. It is Jim—a force from the “world of the sane” and her past life—who is the one attempting to control Susanna. Susanna makes the choice to stay, and as she watches Jim leave, she does not seem to feel any regret or remorse but instead contentment and safety.
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