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Girl, Interrupted | Study Guide

Susanna Kaysen

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Girl, Interrupted | Checkmate | Summary



A nurse's note reveals that Susanna's male visitor was caught with his zipper open, and the girls discuss how difficult it is to have sex in the short time between checks. Following this incident, her boyfriend stops coming to see Susanna. She is saddened by his absence, and the girls advise her to take a boyfriend from among the male patients at McLean. Susanna, however, is not interested in having a boyfriend who is mentally ill; she says, "I don't want a crazy boyfriend." The girls imagine the luxury of a half-hour check, which seems as out of reach as a million dollars.


The isolation and loneliness the girls suffer on the ward becomes palpable. Although their banter about boyfriends seems typical of girls their age and establishes a sense of camaraderie among them, it soon becomes clear that sexual encounters have replaced true emotional intimacy. Given the round-the-clock supervision and regular checks, there is no time even for a short sexual encounter, let alone for true intimacy. Although Susanna is sad that her boyfriend no longer visits, she does not want to make do with another patient, no matter how sexually satisfying that might be. Instead, she longs for real human contact with normal people, suggesting she feels out of place at McLean.

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