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Girl, Interrupted | Freedom | Summary

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Summary

Lisa Rowe is a frequent runaway. Usually, she is picked up and quickly returned, but this time it takes a while. When she is finally brought back, she is placed in solitary confinement. Two days later, Lisa emerges. Her nails have been cut short because they could be potential weapons, and her belt has been taken away so she can't kill herself. Although Susanna thinks that Lisa, a self-involved sociopath, would never kill herself, the other girl seems like a changed person. A free spirit with a penchant for mischief, she suddenly appears catatonic and spends all her time in front of the TV. The girls wonder if she is being drugged, particularly when Lisa obsessively visits alternate bathroom stalls. Then one day Lisa is back to her old self, smiling and mischievous. The girls investigate a ruckus in the TV room and find the nurses frantically cleaning up the toilet paper Lisa used to wrap "all the furniture, some of it holding the catatonics, the TV, and the sprinkler system." Lisa has been planning her prank the entire time, fooling even the nurses.

Analysis

Lisa Rowe's many attempts at running away underscore Polly's inability to ever escape. Like Polly, Lisa enjoys hero status among the girls. They admire her because she is funny, always up to mischief, and strong enough to manipulate the rules of the hospital. After all, she does not seem to succumb to the restrictions imposed but finds ways to escape time and again. However, Lisa seems always glad to be back, because in the real world, nobody takes care of her. This different outlook illustrates the push and pull of life in the mental ward between restriction and care, imprisonment and shelter. And while Lisa's high-spirited antics seem refreshingly rebellious, they are also the acts of a sociopath with no conscience.

When her last outing and the subsequent stay in solitary seems to have broken Lisa's spirit, the girls seem lost. When Lisa's catatonic state turns out to be an act to execute her greatest prank, she reestablishes herself as the master of manipulation—on the inside. Her prank also highlights her powerlessness in the real world. She has no money, no job, and no home other than McLean.

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