Susanna Kaysen’s memoir, Girl Interrupted describes Kaysen’s struggle to transcend across the boundary that separates her from two parallel universes: the worlds of sanity and insanity, security and vulnerability. In this memoir, Kaysen details her existence as a psychiatric patient diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder in a mental institution where time seems circular alongside a parallel universe where time is normally linear. The hospital itself becomes a paradoxical representation of both strict confinement and ultimate personal freedom. Through Kaysen’s short, blunt phrase-like sentences, she forcefully impresses the shocking conditions she endured on the memory of her readers. Writing in a subtle, almost Hemingway-stark style, she merely suggests the actual reality of her situation in her objective observations of her experiences, leaving her readers in a disturbing position of being suspended between the world that Kaysen paints and the factual reality.
And it is easy to slip into a parallel universe
There are so many of them: worlds of the
insane, the criminal, the crippled, the dying,
perhaps of the dead as well. These worlds
exist alongside this world and resemble it, but
are not in it… (Kaysen, 5)
Through the disclosure of Kaysen’s case record files, the readers learn that Kaysen was born on November 11, 1948 to Carl and Annette Kaysen. Kaysen grew up in an intellectual, ambitious, Jewish family prominent in the academic world; her father Carl was the director for advanced studies at Princeton University. However, on April 27, 1967 at age 18, Kaysen was admitted voluntarily to the McLean Hospital because of…
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…ceive our own experiences clearly nor understand ourselves and each other completely anyway. She implies that we all live suspended between a reality we live and a reality we create in our minds like the young girl in the Vermeer painting trapped in a world of muted light,unable to perceive everything lucidly.
The girl at her music sits in another
sort of light, the fitful, overcast light
of life, by which we see ourselves
and others only imperfectly, and
Cheever, Susan. “A Designated Crazy.” The New York Times 20 June, 1993.
Johnson, Alex, “A Conversation with Susanna Kaysen,” Agni, 1994, p105
Johnson, Alex, “A Conversation with Susanna Kaysen,” Agni, 1994, p105.
Sharkey, Nancy. “Two Years in the Bin”. The New York Times 20, June, 1993.
Hampl, Patricia. “Memory and Imagination”.
Comparing Maturation in Sons and Lovers, Out Of The Shelter and The Rachel Papers
Comparing Maturation in Sons and Lovers by D.H Lawrence, Out Of The Shelter by David Lodge and The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis
Each of these three novels Sons and Lovers by D.H Lawrence, Out Of The Shelter by David Lodge and The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis, examine the transition between childhood and adulthood of the three main characters in each of the texts. Each author represents this transition by showing how all the characters deal with significant stages or events in their lives. The problems which they encounter lead to the maturation of each character which finally leads to the process of growing up taking place. Although each book is set in a different era, where social conventions are very different, many of the problems which each of the characters face remain the same. Sons and Lovers by D.H.Lawrence is set in a working class, coal-mining community in pre-war England. It is against this setting that Paul Morel grows up. For Paul, the process of growing up means how his relationships with various groups of people and individuals develop and how he himself sees these relationships. The mostsignificant relationships Paul has are those with his parents, the opposite sex and the outside world. Paul’s childhood is similar to other children in that area of Nottingham in the 1930s. His father spends most evenings drinking, squandering most of the family’s income. Paul resents his father for making his mother suffer because of this and never questions the fact that it is his mother who drives Mr Morel to drink. Paul is the second of four children and has an unusually close relationship with his mother which intensifies after the death of his elder brother, William. This relationship that Paul has with his mother pre…
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…urney which is made by the main character takes place over a relatavely short period of time. The way in which adolescents’ rites of passage are represented in all three of my novels conforms to the idea that “The subject is the development of the protagonist’s mind and character, as he passes from childhood through varied experiences – and usually through spiritual crisis – into maturity and the recognition of his identity and role in the world.”
Amis, Martin. The Rachel Papers. New York: Vintage International, 1992.
Lawrence, D.H. Sons and Lovers. New York: Barnes