It's Kind of a Funny Story

It's Kind of a Funny Story Summary and Analysis of Parts 3 and 4


"Part 3: Badoom" returns to an earlier scene: Craig vomiting up his dinner in his bathroom at home. Craig confronts his parents and attempts to downplay his problems. However, he privately resolves to kill himself, even though he knows that this course of action will cause his family pain. He decides to sleep in his mother's bed—as he normally does when his problems become intense—but must still deal with doubts about the course he has chosen, and with a commanding and persistent voice in his head.

Before Craig settles in for the night, he talks to his sister and then calls Nia. Now that Craig is convinced he has little to lose, he asks Nia if he would have had a chance at becoming her boyfriend. She reveals that she was in fact considering a relationship with Craig, but that she had found Aaron more assertive and had settled on having Craig as a friend instead. Craig voices his desire to go to Nia's house and, impulsively, try to win her over. Nia voices worry about Craig's mental state, and the conversation ends.

As the night goes on, Craig finds that he is unable to sleep; in fact, he remains mentally anxious and active, in a state that he dubs Cycling. He remains preoccupied with the school obligations that he will be leaving behind, but finally resolves to kill himself by jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge. Yet as Craig is in the process of putting his plan in motion, he catches a glimpse of a book that his mother had been reading, How to Survive the Loss of a Love. It turns out that the book contains directions on how to prevent self-harm. Craig consults these, and calls a suicide hotline.

At first, he reaches the Brooklyn Anxiety Management Center and talks with a Center representative named Keith. In an attempt to bring Craig's thoughts and perspective under control, Keith guides Craig through a multi-step writing exercise. Craig, however, does not find the exercise soothing and asks to be put in touch with a different hotline. Keith advises Craig to call 1-800-SUICIDE, which Craig does.

At 1-800-SUICIDE, Craig reaches a woman named Maritsa. Craig reveals that he has stopped taking his medication and that he is in a bad state; Maritsa speaks to him in a compassionate manner and advises him to go to an emergency room immediately. He leaves his apartment and sets out for the nearby Argenon hospital, without waking any of his family members except, perhaps, for his dog Jordan.

In "Part 4: Hospital," Craig visits the Argenon emergency room. Although the scene involves a strange and random assortment of patients, Craig is quickly queued up for treatment. He explains that he has stopped taking his Zoloft and is experiencing suicidal tendencies; he is temporarily escorted to Room 22. Here, he observes the nearby patients and deals with the military voice that occasionally enters his head.

Craig is put under the close watch of a police officer named Chris and is assigned to Dr. Mahmoud. While Chris monitors him, Craig calls his mother and informs her that he is in the hospital. Her reaction is positive and encouraging; she is convinced that Craig has done the right thing by seeking treatment. Soon Dr. Mahmoud arrives to talk to Craig, but Craig's mom arrives soon after, with Jordan in tow. Together, they agree that Craig will be admitted to the branch of the hospital for psychological and psychiatric patients, even though (with the area for teenagers undergoing renovations) he will need to stay in the adult wing.

Craig's new destination is Six North. Before heading up, he is introduced to a man named Smitty, who is dressed somewhat informally and who turns out to be one of the staff members in charge of the adult psychiatric area. Craig calmly makes his way to the hospital floor where he will be staying. Only when he arrives there and sees a strange-looking man with something of a harelip does he fully realize that he has left his former life behind and entered a mental ward.


By this point in the novel, Craig's mental habits are familiar to the reader. Tentacles, Anchors, the Shift, Cycling, the military voice—these aspects of how Craig thinks have settled into a network of images that is clear and strong enough to last the rest of the book. But now that Craig has reached a point of crisis, the question becomes how much of his mental state he intends to communicate to the outside world. He does not reveal this idiosyncratic mental life to Keith or Maritza, for instance, but he may be pressured to face his thought processes in new ways after he enters Six North.

Craig is enormously self-aware even when he is in the midst of emotions that could overpower another teenager. He is aware of the psychological wounds that his suicide would inflict, at least on his family. He is also aware that some of his actions, even in a bleak time, are desperate, comical, and absurd. For instance, Craig settles into bed next to his mother but finds himself unable to sleep. So he starts doing pushups: "Here, next to my mom, in a scene that would look very weird if you filmed it from the side, I start doing them up and down--one, two, three" (139). The incest-related image is weird, but the fact that Craig has decided to do pushups in this situation in the first place carries its own kind of weirdness.

Even as Craig's thoughts of suicide intensify, Vizzini continues to mine the narrative for humor. This is not an insensitive move by any means; in fact, the presence of humor indicates that, even in the bleakest scenarios, the world at large continues to be a random, lively, and absurd place. At other times, Vizzini's humor is bound up with specific, important sequences—and reveals new details about characters. Craig's confusing interaction with Keith is one such example. The dialogue itself is based on miscommunication and misalignment of goals (classic comedy devices), but also serves the purpose of revealing the characters' states of mind—Craig's courtesy and earnestness, Keith's doggedness and disappointment.

Although Craig navigates some stages of his suicidal episode early on, neither he nor the reader knows exactly what to expect out of Argenon hospital. Vizzini highlights the fact that Craig is entering a new milieu by, at first, presenting people who make strong visual impressions yet remain completely unnamed. The patients in the emergency waiting room offer a few examples here. Other characters, such as Chris the policeman, quickly become prominent it the narrative and just as quickly disappear from it. The basic pace of life in the hospital is thus made to seem uncertain and somewhat arbitrary, so that the novel effectively conveys Craig's initial disorientation.

Craig must also deal with the world outside Argenon, even as he figures his new settings out. But as difficult as this process of coordination may be, Craig does have the support of his family and (on the evidence of Keith, Maritsa, and the hospital staff) of complete strangers. His mother, to take but one example, is proud of his resolution to enter the hospital: "I though I was a bad mother, but I'm a good mother if I taught you to handle yourself. You have the tools to know what to do" (169). Finding a sympathetic audience will probably not be Craig's greatest challenge. Between working through his psychological ills and navigating Six North, he already has enough to handle.