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Girl, Interrupted | Study Guide

Susanna Kaysen

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Girl, Interrupted | Dental Health | Summary



Susanna develops an abscess in her wisdom tooth. The dentist wants to take it out, but Susanna refuses. Valerie agrees, and they first treat the infection with penicillin, but Susanna develops a fever and the tooth has to come out. They return to the dentist; he tells her to count to ten, but takes her tooth out at the count of four. When she asks where it went, the doctor and Valerie assume she is talking about the tooth, but Susanna is asking about the time. She wants to know how long the procedure took, but nobody will tell her.


When Susanna wants to know how long the procedure has taken, she is looking for a part of herself. In the previous chapter she is trying to find physical evidence of her being, but physical reality, like bones and teeth, is only part of the expression of human life. Humans live in both time and space; Susanna realizes this, and also understands that at McLean, she seems to be living outside of time. She wants to claim the time that belongs to her.

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