It's Kind of a Funny Story

It's Kind of a Funny Story Summary and Analysis of Parts 5 and 6


At the opening of "Part 5: Six North, Saturday," Craig has just entered the adult psychiatric facility at Argenon hospital. Smitty takes Craig's blood pressure--120/80, a normal rate--and Craig fills out a questionnaire. Craig also learns that his stay will last a minimum of five days; he must form a plan for treatment while dealing with the protocols in Six North (patients remaining clean-shaven, no cell phone use, and more). After talking with Smitty and another staff member, Nurse Monica, Craig is introduced to a fellow patient named Bobby, who takes Craig on a tour of the facilities.

Early in the tour, Craig looks into the Six North dining room and is struck by how different all the patients are from one another. He learns that a large number of the patients in Six North smoke cigarettes, and figures out that the floorplan of Six North takes an H-shape. A few of Craig's fellow patients also catch his attention; he glimpses a teenage girl named Noelle and an aggressive male patient named Humble. Towards the end of the tour, Bobby expresses the opinion that Craig lives in a good neighborhood and has been lucky in life.

Next, Craig is introduced to his roommate, Muqtada. Muqtada is an older, bearded man with glasses; he is generally uncommunicative and seems reluctant to leave his bed. Craig learns that Muqtada is originally from Egypt. Before Craig can settle into his room, a mealtime announcement rings through Six North. In the course of the ensuing activity, Craig makes the acquaintance of another patient: Armelio, the patient with the almost-harelip whom Craig had noticed earlier, and who normally strikes a busy and authoritative attitude. Amelio even has a nickname: the "President."

At the meal, Craig is served curry-flavored chicken. Despite his past problems eating, he devours his food readily and easily; he also listens to Humble, who rants about "yuppies," privileged people, and his old relationships. Craig begins eating a second helping of chicken and tries some of the tea available in Six North, a brand called "Swee-Touch-Nee." He continues to learn about Humble (who has been sleeping in his car and who has a daughter) until a group of younger, female patients beckons for Craig to join them.

Craig goes over to the group and strikes up a conversation with Jennifer, a flirtatious patient with a streak of blue dye in her hair. But another patient--Noelle, the blond girl Craig had noticed earlier--flashes Craig a somewhat cryptic written warning: "BEWARE OF PENIS." It turns out that Jennifer is actually transgender and began life as a man named Charles. Craig, surprised by this experience, then lines up to receive his medication. He attempts to locate Noelle again, but has trouble finding her.

Later on Saturday, Craig is visited by his entire family. His parents are generally supportive, while his sister Sarah closely observes the patients, including Charles/Jennifer. Craig eventually learns that Armelio like card games, and watches as some of the other patients field phone calls, but is unable to avoid his anxious thoughts of the outside world. He fears that rumors about him will begin to circulate in school; he also discovers that he has missed phone calls from Nia, Aaron, and his science teacher. Craig decides to return Nia's call first. Although he starts to reveal some of his recent issues, he is interrupted by Armelio and by Ebony, another patient, and decides to cut off the call. After he does so, he feels better about himself, more independent.

Craig proceeds to talk with the psychologist assigned to him, Dr. Mahmoud. This specialist explains that Craig's stay in Six North should be approached as a necessity, as a means of managing and stabilizing the rest of Craig's life. It is agreed that Dr. Minerva will also visit Craig herself. At the next meal, Craig continues to learn, through Humble's sarcastic observations, about his fellow patients. (Humble points out that Ebony is a gigantic woman who wears velvet pants and who has no teeth, and explains that Bobby and another patient, Johnny, were at one point infamous drug addicts.) Soon after, Craig receives a note from Noelle, who wants to meet with him on Monday evening.

Around 10:00 at night, Craig receives a phone call. The call is from Aaron, who has discovered (from Nia) that Craig is in a psychiatric hospital. Tensions escalate when Aaron takes a lighthearted attitude towards Craig's problems, and escalate further when Craig reveals (to Aaron's disbelief) that Nia is on medication herself. Craig angrily terminates the call. His feelings of depression and anxiety are now heightened, and he needs medication to sleep. A nurse administers him a sedative; Craig crashes into bed, depleted.

"Part 6: Six North, Sunday" begins with Craig's new morning routine: he can pick from a variety of breakfast items. For a change of companions, he decides to sit with Bobby and Johnny for this meal. Craig learns that Bobby has an upcoming job interview, but does not have appropriate clothes; Craig offers to lend Bobby a shirt, a gesture which Bobby greatly appreciates.

Near the end of the day, Craig meets Noelle. Through a game that consists of exchanging personal questions, the two young patients learn about one another. It turns out that Noelle's father is dead, that Noelle has been at Argenon for twenty-one days, and that the scars on Noelle's face (which were self-inflicted) might be removable with the right surgery. Craig and Noelle are in high spirits after this dialogue. They rush to the evening's scheduled activity, Art Therapy. Here, Craig is at pains to think of a subject for his art, but with Noelle's prompting returns to the maps from his childhood. Ebony observes that one of the maps Craig is drawing resembles a brain and Craig decides to stay with this motif. The second day in Six North thus ends on a positive note. Craig and Noelle have agreed to meet again, and Craig does not have any trouble sleeping.


Gradually, Craig is introduced to life in Six North. Vizzini's prose indicates, in ways both subtle and obvious, that Craig is immersing himself in a world whose workings are deeply unfamiliar. Perhaps the most startling sign of the changed expectations in Six North is the revelation of Charles/Jennifer's identity, a moment that rapidly takes Craig outside his high school comfort zone of neatly defined male-and-female dynamics. Elsewhere, though, Craig's minute observations reveal the sharp change of setting. Even a beautiful girl such as Noelle--the kind of girl who would preoccupy his attention, normally--is simply unflatteringly as "a wilted little girl with cuts on her face" who "looks up from a pad of something and scurries into a nearby room" (196). Only later does Noelle's attractiveness, and importance in Craig's life, become clear.

It is impossible to tell, in fact, from the early stages of Craig's time in Six North which characters will become most and least important in his healing process. In some cases, the results are extremely surprising. Bobby and Humble become prominent early on, but mostly provide human interest and comic relief as the chapters progress. Noelle's bond with Craig is somewhat more straightforward, foreshadowed by her warning about Charles/Jennifer. Perhaps the greatest surprise is Ebony, who is introduced relatively late in the narrative and seems like little more than another kindly eccentric at first, but ultimately plays an important role in the formation of Craig's art motifs.

One way or another, Craig is now being forced to interact with adults more consistently than before. There are still abundant reminders of the kind of teen-to-adult relationships he had outside Six North; his parents remain in touch, and Dr. Mahmoud and Dr. Minerva remain among his resources. For the first time, though, Craig connects with adults not by accepting advice or assignments from them, but by offering insights and ideas of his own. Fellow patients such as Bobby acknowledge that Craig is lucky—and such good luck in life may equip Craig to give meaningful advice to older men and women who are, in truth, worse off than he is.

Just as Craig finds his place in a circle of adults, he begins to break the connections he had formed with his teenage friends. To a large extent, Aaron and Nia seem incapable of grasping Craig's problems. As Craig explains during his call to Nia, his stay in Six North was not motivated by his crush on her: "I was freaking out about, like, much bigger things. I was having kind of a crisis, and I wanted to reach out to somebody who understood" (234). The irony here is that Craig, in calling Nia, has once again reached out to somebody who does not seem to understand what he is going through; or, perhaps, does not want to understand what he is going through. Aaron and Nia, after all, face the same pressures that Craig does; they may find his poor reaction to be personally unsettling, even if they refuse to admit as much for fear of seeming weak.

By the end of the first few days at Six North, however, Craig has settled into a positive sense of himself, his surroundings, and his activities. While some readers may be surprised by such sharp changes of mood, it is important to consider Craig's position in life; he is a teenager in already strange circumstances, and volatile, quickly-changing emotions only make his characterization more realistic. The question of whether Craig can sustain the positive mentality connected to the brain maps will become central to the tension, suspense, and forward movement of It's Kind of a Funny Story. He has found an Anchor early in his stay in Six North. Will the positivity last?