It's Kind of a Funny Story

It's Kind of a Funny Story Literary Elements


Young adult realistic or psychological fiction

Setting and Context

New York and Brooklyn, during the present or the extremely recent past

Narrator and Point of View

The main narrator is Craig Gilner, an intelligent high school freshman who suffers from depression. Craig offers an intimate and mostly chronological record of his experiences growing up.

Tone and Mood

Darkly comic in dealing with Craig's odd acquaintances and blunt observations, but also instructive in dealing with feelings of depression and isolation.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Protagonist: Craig; Antagonist: Craig's psychological issues (main), Craig's friends from school (secondary)

Major Conflict

In the early portions the novel, Craig attempts to adapt to the pressures of high school and to cope with depression. Craig then enters the adult facility at Six North, and must face his psychological issues while dealing with the odd habits of his new acquaintances. He also comes into conflict with Aaron and Nia, his friends from school.


The climax occurs in the second-to-last chapter of the novel. Here, Craig uses music and a movie to bring the patients of Six North together in moments of community. He also has a romantic and erotic encounter with Noelle, and achieves a sense of bliss and release in the process.


Craig's early problems eating, sleeping, and dealing with stress indicate that he will eventually require significant psychiatric care. Once he checks into Six North, however, a new form of foreshadowing arises. Patients such as Bobby indicate the kind of person Craig could become in life if he squanders his potential instead of dealing directly with his problems.


The title of the novel is a form of understatement. Vizzini's novel is designed to be extremely funny, not just "kind of" funny. But "funny" could also mean "mildly unusual": this too is an understatement, since Craig meets some extremely unusual people in Six North.


Most allusions are to popular culture (Will Smith movies, Blade II). Some references also involve books (David Copperfield) that Craig and his peers may have encountered in the course of their studies.


Craig describes his surroundings, his fellow students, and his fellow students using intense visual detail. He also develops imaginative or symbolic images of various sorts, from his psychiatric visions (Tentacles, Anchors, Cycling) to his brain maps and other, future art projects.


- People you've just met can be better for you than people you've known for a long time.

- A strange environment (such as Six North) can be more nurturing that the "normal" world.

- Some of the people who refuse help are the ones who need help the most.


One of the first specialists Craig meets, Dr. Barney, had his own history of psychological problems. It is possible that he sees himself in the young people he helps.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

Craig's high school, Executive Pre-Professional, offers a single specimen of the many pressures that contemporary teens face, in many American high schools.

Six North is a cross-section of the real world, bringing in people of radically different ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds.


Traditional personification is rare in Vizzini's novel (although Craig's dogs, Rudy and Jordan, could present a small case of personification). With his brain maps, however, Craig performs a sort of personification in reverse, comparing humans to non-human objects.