Girl, Interrupted

by

Susanna Kaysen

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Girl, Interrupted: Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Daisy, Kaysen writes, was a “seasonal event” at McLean. She came to the hospital every year before Thanksgiving and stayed through Christmas, and occasionally visited for her birthday in May, too. Daisy was always given a single room, and the other women on the ward had to move around and switch roommates to accommodate her. Daisy had two great “passions,” Kaysen says: laxatives and chicken.
If Lisa is the queen of the ward, Daisy is its princess. Every time Daisy arrives, the whole ward must move its rooming arrangements around to accommodate her, and Daisy, unlike many of the patients on the ward, brings her “passions” from the outside world in with her.
Themes
Women and Medicine Theme Icon
Sanity vs. Insanity Theme Icon
Twice a week, Daisy’s father brings her a whole roasted chicken wrapped in aluminum foil, and Daisy “fondle[s]” the chicken throughout the rest of her father’s visits. Lisa believes that Daisy and her father have an incestuous relationship. Every morning, Daisy goes to the nurse’s station and impatiently demands laxatives. Susanna notes that even though Daisy always smells like chicken and shit, she has a certain “spark” that the rest of the girls lack.
It’s impossible to say that Daisy’s behavior is the most outwardly odd of any of the girls on the ward, but there is a certain uncanny darkness to her strange relationship with her father, who literally feeds her obsession with rotisserie chickens. Daisy’s stints in McLean, which occur like clockwork, also seem to be Daisy deliberately leaning into what Susanna’s describes as the “parallel world” of insanity.
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
Nobody on the ward has ever been inside Daisy’s room, but Lisa is determined to get in, and tells Susanna that she has a plan. Lisa loudly complains about constipation for several days, and eventually the nurses relent and give her a laxative. The next morning, Lisa complains that the laxative did not work, and demands another dose—this time a double. Lisa, who has been saving the laxatives, is “ready to bargain” with Daisy.
Lisa, always ready with a plan or a scheme, wants desperately to know what is going on with Daisy’s odd rituals and behaviors. Lisa’s scheming to collect laxatives is more subtle than Daisy’s outright demand. Though Daisy often gets what she wants on the ward, laxatives are restricted, and they become Lisa’s way into Daisy’s world.
Themes
Women and Medicine Theme Icon
Manipulation, Restriction, and Control Theme Icon
Lisa enters Daisy’s room after offering Daisy the laxatives, while Georgina and Susanna watch from down the hall. Lisa stays in Daisy’s room for a long time, and eventually Georgina and Susanna give up and return to the TV room. That night, during the evening news, Lisa emerges from Daisy’s room and gives a report. She tells the other girls that Daisy’s room is full of chicken, and that Daisy uses a “special method” when eating them. She peels the meat off of the bones and keeps the carcasses intact, and then stores the carcasses under her bed. Whenever Daisy reaches fourteen chickens, she knows it is time to leave McLean.
Lisa’s “field report” from her encounter with Daisy reveals a kind of insanity that is different from Lisa’s own wild rage, Polly’s slowly-simmering inner fears, or even Susanna’s bewildered instability. Daisy is methodical and ritualistic. The strangeness of her obsession with rotisserie chicken is contrasted by her meticulous approach to consuming them. The ritual obviously means something to Daisy, though what that could be remains unclear.
Themes
Isolation and Seclusion Theme Icon
Women and Medicine Theme Icon
Sanity vs. Insanity Theme Icon
Manipulation, Restriction, and Control Theme Icon
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Georgina asks Lisa why Daisy does this, but Lisa answers that she doesn’t know. Polly asks about the laxatives, and Lisa answers that Daisy needs them due to all the chicken she’s consuming. Georgina is unsatisfied, knowing that there is “more to this than meets the eye,” but Lisa proclaims that aside from gaining access to Daisy’s room there’s nothing more she can do.
The other girls on the ward, unsatisfied to have answers to Daisy’s method but not the madness behind it, continue to speculate on what could be fueling Daisy’s peculiar and unsettling habits of binging and purging, through the use of laxatives, chicken after chicken after chicken.
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
Later that week, Daisy announces boastfully that her father has purchased an apartment for her for Christmas. Lisa gossips to the other girls, claiming that the apartment is a “love nest.” Georgina asks Daisy several questions about the apartment, which the proud Daisy is all too happy to answer. She describes the apartment as a one-bedroom with an L-shaped living room and an “eat-in chicken.” Georgina corrects her: she meant to say eat-in kitchen. Georgina asks Daisy what she likes best about the apartment, and Daisy answers that it’s the sign out front, which reads, “If you lived here, you’d be home now.” Daisy leaves McLean shortly thereafter to spend Christmas in her new apartment.
Daisy is boastful and a bit haughty about her father having bought her an apartment. Even as she regales the girls with descriptions of her exciting new “nest,” shimmers of her insanity—and her obsession with chicken—slip through. The apartment, the ritual eating and expelling of the chickens, and Daisy’s relationship to her father all seem to be linked, but even as Daisy departs, there are no answers that any of the girls can discern.
Themes
Isolation and Seclusion Theme Icon
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Sanity vs. Insanity Theme Icon
Manipulation, Restriction, and Control Theme Icon
One May, the girls are called to a special Hall Meeting, in which the head nurse announces that Daisy committed suicide the previous day in her new apartment. The girls clamor for details, but the head nurse insists that they aren’t important. Lisa points out that yesterday was Daisy’s birthday, and all of the patients share a moment of silence in Daisy’s honor.
Daisy’s lonely life comes to an equally lonely end as the girls on the ward receive news of her suicide. Daisy’s attempt is the third so far in the book, but the first successful one—she has succeeded where Susanna and Polly had earlier failed.
Themes
Isolation and Seclusion Theme Icon
Perception vs. Reality Theme Icon
Sanity vs. Insanity Theme Icon
Manipulation, Restriction, and Control Theme Icon