For much of It's Sort of a Funny Story, Craig adheres to a somewhat conventional view of happiness. The markers of happiness, for him, are high-level academic success and a high-paying job. Yet as he immerses himself in Six North, he realizes that happiness can come from forces that can seem simpler, but are in fact more fulfilling and meaningful. Self-expression through art and conversation, as well as bonds with family and friends, offer Craig a vision of happiness that his emphasis on conventional markers of success never truly provided.
A few different communities arise within the novel. Early on, Craig is a part of a strained family community, and of a circle of friends who hang out together in part for the sake of amusement, in part to mask or dodge their deeper problems. Only in Six North, perhaps the strangest community in the entire novel, does Craig begin to develop a mature perspective on his problems. Once he leaves, he is better able to re-join and maybe even enhance his family and friend communities.
As a student at Executive Pre-Professional High School, Craig is part of a lifestyle premised on constant pressure. His sources of pressure are both academic (since he feels that he is falling behind in the curriculum) and social (since he feels awkward and insecure with girls). By the end of the novel, Craig learns to deal with the pressure, while it may still be causing considerable problems for Craig's fellow students, including his friends Aaron and Nia.
When the story begins, Craig has abandoned art, a youthful preoccupation, in order to focus on academic and financial success. At Six North, he rediscovers his artistic aptitude. Craig's visual art is a crucial part of his recovery, but art in other forms serves important purposes in the novel. Music, for instance, is a form of therapy for Six North as a whole, and is the very influence that helps Craig's roommate Muqtada to break out of his lethargy and isolation.
Communication takes a few different forms in It's Sort of a Funny Story. Craig struggles to communicate his true state of mind to his therapists, family, and friends; often, he decides to withhold information about himself and his true desires. This pattern changes after Craig enters Six North and finds sympathetic listeners in Noelle and Dr. Minerva during his stay. By the end of the novel, Craig has changed to such an extent that he can confidently communicate his desire to pursue a new course of study to his family as a whole.
During his time in Six North, Craig meets individuals whose past behavior would be unacceptable to society; Bobby and Johnny, who were frequent drug users, offer one clear example. Craig also meets individuals such as Muqtada and Humble, whose present behavior would strike society at large as strange. One effect of these experiences is that Craig, at least until the later stages of his stay, begins to question whether he himself is capable of existing within society at large and fitting into social norms.
Romance and Relationships
Among Craig's main preoccupations are his relationships with girls his own age. Before he enters Six North, Craig feels insecure and uncomfortable around members of the opposite sex. But after meeting Noelle, Craig establishes a relationship of a uniquely fulfilling sort. While Craig and Noelle exhibit some of the same physical bonds that Aaron and Nia exhibit, Craig's new relationship is built on a mature, solid foundation; Noelle is supportive of Craig's art and understanding of his missteps. Their relationship serves as a model of a promising, caring romance.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.