Literature Study GuidesGirl InterruptedIf You Lived Here Youd Be Home Now Summary

Girl, Interrupted | Study Guide

Susanna Kaysen

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Girl, Interrupted | If You Lived Here You'd Be Home Now | Summary



Daisy is not a permanent resident at McLean. She comes around the holidays and always gets a single room. Daisy is ill-tempered and shies away from all physical contact. She demands laxatives every morning, likely due to her enormous consumption of chicken—her father visits every other day to bring a whole chicken wrapped in foil. Lisa Rowe tricks the nurses into giving her laxatives so she can bargain with Daisy for a peek into her room. Lisa reports to the other girls that Daisy eats the chicken and keeps the carcasses, claiming that once she has enough of them, it will be time to leave. That Christmas, her father buys her an apartment, and she leaves the hospital early. Daisy's favorite feature of the apartment is that commuters will read a banner ad on the building that says, "If you lived here you'd be home now," which seems to make her feel superior. A few months later the girls learn that Daisy commits suicide in that apartment on her birthday.


Daisy's situation illustrates the relative nature of madness and sanity. Daisy is not permanently committed to the psychiatric ward. Her compulsive need to eat chicken after chicken and counteract the digestive consequences with laxatives hints at a more severe mental disturbance than Susanna's, and yet Susanna is a permanent inmate. The girls also speculate that Daisy's father is "in love with her"; a disturbing situation.

Daisy's suicide after she leaves to live in her own apartment supports this assumption—given the severity of her affliction, she should have been permanently committed to McLean. Daisy cannot function in the world outside, yet the medical establishment releases her time and again. The chapter title takes on a double meaning: not only is it the banner ad that gives Daisy a sense of superiority over commuters stuck on the road, it is also the sad realization that had she lived at McLean, she'd likely still be alive. The complexity of mental disorders and the difficulty of diagnosing them correctly and with certainty reemerges here. Diagnoses should not be taken lightly or made in a hurry; mistakes might cost lives.

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