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Girl, Interrupted | Study Guide

Susanna Kaysen

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Girl, Interrupted | Security Screen | Summary



Lisa Rowe demands fresh air and challenges Valerie, the head nurse, to open the window in her room. This task requires opening a security screen, which is a complicated and physically demanding job usually performed by the staff rather than the nurses. Lisa threatens to call her lawyer, a recourse she often uses to manipulate the nurses into giving in to her demands. Valerie calms Lisa down when she causes a scene but eventually relents and opens the window. The nurse quickly realizes, however, that Lisa only made the request to pass the time.


Susanna illustrates the tedium of the days inside the mental ward. Daisy's repetitive requests for a cigarette and Lisa Rowe's equally repetitive answers represent the monotony of endless days without a clear purpose. Not only is Susanna rendered immobile by her mental disorder, all residents and staff are rendered immobile by the repetitive structure of their days.

Lisa's demand about the window is not meant to give her a breath of fresh air but to grant her a reprieve from the boredom of a life without responsibilities and distractions. Valerie agrees, suggesting that the nurses, too, are stuck in the dull and repetitive routine.

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