full title Girl, Interrupted
author Susanna Kaysen
type of work Memoir
genre Memoir; autobiography
time and place written Early 1990s; Cambridge, Massachusetts
date of first publication 1993
publisher Turtle Bay Books
narrator Susanna Kaysen constructs an account of her time at McLean Hospital from memory and hospital documentation, commenting on the cultural context and of her experiences and the people who shaped them. Although the work is autobiographical, Kaysen does not write on a strictly linear timeline; she merges events and people for dramatic effect and to protect identities.
point of view First person
tone Reflective; philosophical; darkly humorous; critical
setting (time) 1967–1969
setting (place) McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts
protagonist Susanna Kaysen
major conflict Sent to a residential psychiatric program in the wake of a suicide attempt, Kaysen struggles to heal in the face of mental illness, the oppression of confinement, and the uncertainty of a changing world.
themes Confusion of social nonconformity with insanity; freedom vs. captivity; limited choices available to women
motifs Time; detachment; generation gap
symbols Hospital records; tunnels
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