It's Kind of a Funny Story

It's Kind of a Funny Story Summary and Analysis of Parts 9 and 10


At the beginning of "Part 9: Six North, Wednesday," Craig reflects on the fact that he has just begun his final full day in the hospital. He decides to take a cold shower, a first for him; although he still hears the voice of the military man in his head, Craig emerges from the experience feeling refreshed. He then reveals to Smitty that he is bringing in a DVD of Blade II for the patients to watch. While Smitty has doubts about exposing a group of psychiatric patients to a violent vampire movie, Craig successfully addresses Smitty's doubts.

Around 11 in the morning, Dr. Minerva pays Craig another visit. Craig voices his anxiety about facing the world outside Six North, from e-mails to school pressures, but does admit that he has done something valuable in creating his art. After Craig shows Dr. Minerva his artwork, Dr. Minerva makes a striking suggestion. She encourages Craig to consider switching schools. Although Craig is surprised at first, he realizes that his current course may only lead to future problems and begins to accept Dr. Minerva's idea.

Later in the day, Craig has another visitor. Aaron arrives in Six North, bearing a record that Craig had requested: Egyptian Masters Volume Three. Overall, Aaron's mood is understanding and apologetic. He asks Craig about life in Six North, explains that he and Nia have been working to solve their problems, and admits that his own family's issues may have caused his earlier, ill-considered reactions. Reconciled, Craig sees Aaron out, musing that perhaps Aaron needs to face psychological problems head-on.

Craig has also decided that he will commemorate his fellow Six North patients in a special manner. He draws personalized brain maps for each of them. He starts with Armelio, drawing a brain map with fast highways, then moves on to Ebony, creating a brain map with circles and loops that Ebony finds pretty. Humble's brain is drawn as a rough, active area, while Noelle receives the two-figure map that Craig created earlier (except that he "finishes" it by writing his phone number on the back). Craig then depicts Bobby's brain by drawing the affluent Upper East Side, and depicts Johnny's by bringing in guitar imagery. The two men are appreciative, yet refuse to give Craig their contact information on account of their bad backgrounds and potentially bad futures. To finish off, Craig draws the brain of Jimmy, a cryptic patient whose brain can best be understood as a jumble.

After drawing the brain maps, Craig dozes off. He is woken up by his mother, his father, and Sarah. He shows them some of the art that he has created, and explains that he wants to switch schools and pursue his artwork. Although Craig's dad is skeptical of this plan, Craig argues that the focus on academic competition at Executive Pre-Professional is at the heart of many of his problems. His parents ultimately pledge their support for Craig's proposed new course.

Craig's father has also brought along a DVD of Blade II, a movie that, as Craig sees it, has a simple yet enormously violent plot. A large number of the Six North patients convene to watch the film; Humble briefly strikes up another argument with the Professor. Most of Craig's fellow patients, though, seem to enjoy the movie. Craig breaks away and affectionately sees his father out of Six North. He then goes and finds Muqtada. Muqtada is excited by the prospect of hearing Egyptian music and resolutely leaves his bed. However, while listening to the music, Muqtada must play cards with Armelio--a favor that Craig requests and sees successfully granted.

With Muqtada preoccupied, Craig returns to his room, where he finds Noelle. The two of them begin kissing, but realize that they must stay quiet. Craig moves his hands onto Noelle's breasts, then beneath her skirt. When he reaches her genitals, he repeats Aaron's idea that a vagina feels like "the inside of a cheek." Noelle is temporarily taken aback; she mistakenly believes that Craig is referring to the cuts on her cheeks, but then tests Aaron's idea and finds it inaccurate. This meeting between Craig and Noelle ends with Craig projecting his mind over the local area, then over an entire stretch of America, and reflecting on his own profound happiness.

In "Part 10: Six North, Thursday," Craig offers a brief account of his departure from Argenon Hospital. Both of his parents have arrived to pick him up. One by one, the patients with whom Craig has bonded wish him farewell. Noelle, who is also being released from Six North soon, reminds Craig to call her. And just before Craig leaves, Muqtada approaches Craig's parents and warmly explains that Craig has been a great help.

While walking away from Six North, Craig decides to stroll along at some distance from his parents, reflecting on his recent experiences. He takes in the spring day around him, and suddenly his thoughts of suicide seem distant, illogical. Finally, he has experienced the Shift, an escape from his negative mental state and a return to positive emotions, positive thoughts. As It's Kind of a Funny Story draws to a close, Craig envisions the potential for happiness--with his family, with his friends, with Noelle, with his art--that his life now offers him, alighting at last on a single word: "Live."


Even as his time at Six North draws to a close, Craig remains somewhat unsure about the significance of his experience. While a few of the things he does (such as taking a cold shower) signify new departures in his life, he still holds onto the idea that his life will return to Executive Pre-Professional and that his life will continue mostly as usual. In his own mind, "the further I get from thinking about e-mail and Dr. Minerva and the fact that I'm going to have to leave here and go back to Executive Pre-Professional, the calmer I get. And the closer I get to the brain maps, to this stupid little thing I can do, the calmer I get" (388). Craig's shift in attitude toward the brain maps, however temporary, is immensely revealing. Earlier, these maps were a source of genuine pride and interest; now, they seem insignificant compared to the obligations that Craig must confront.

It is also odd that Craig, in this quotation, identifies Dr. Minerva as a source of stress. In a reversal of this entire conception, she is the person who offers Craig a way out of his current, stressful lifestyle. If anything, the final chapters of It's Kind of a Funny Story force Craig to confront and defeat some of his greatest misperceptions. His psychiatrists and psychologists aim to help, not to treat him as an experiment, to inflict stress, or to needlessly take his parents' money. And the lifestyle of achievement and conformity that he envisioned offers not a structure for success, but a structure so oppressive that success starts to become impossible.

Craig does experience victories in the final stages of the novel, but not the academic or financial victories that he had once craved. Instead, he brings the other patients together over movies and music, re-establishes his bond with Aaron, and deepens his relationship with Noelle. The version of Craig that is in evidence here--thoughtful, confident, proactive--is very different from the version of Craig that opened the novel. Once uncomfortable about communicating even with his closest friends, Craig is now certain that he can unite people who, only a few days before, had been complete strangers to him.

In Craig's own opinion, life in Six North was an experience like no other: "It seems like five days; it doesn't seem too long or too short; it seems like I spent the time here that I really spent. People are always talking about real-time—real-time stock quotes, real-time information, real-time news—but in here I think I had real-time real time" (438). This is an experience that may never be reproduced, but that made Craig more aware of himself and (as this discussion of time demonstrates) of the fundamentals of the society around him. Yet Six North was "real" in another sense: getting to know the other patients removed Craig from his sheltered school environment and exposed him to adult struggles that were alien to his own experience.

Six North introduced Craig to new forms of art, friendship, human error, and human affection. Because It's Kind of a Funny Story does not have a traditional epilogue, it is indeed difficult to determine precisely where Craig's rejuvenated metal state will lead or what his new knowledge will equip him to accomplish. It is not clear that all of his problems have been solved; keep in mind, after all, that Craig will most likely still have to face high school, college, and the job market in some form. He has not found a way to remove pressures completely, but he has found ways to deal with them. That, indeed, is the final lesson of It's Kind of a Funny Story. The perfect world of success and accomplishment that Craig once envisioned is not a reality, but our imperfect yet richly active world—where success takes unexpected forms, and where human connection is one of the greatest forms of that success—is.