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It's Kind of a Funny Story Theme Essay

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Morgan Fisher


It’s Kind of a Funny Story

        The fictional novel It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini is actually not very funny at all. This book deals with topics such as anxiety and depression and reveals that anyone can develop a mental illness no matter their situation. The theme of the book is that people develop mental illnesses for various reasons, and everyone recovers in different ways. The author uses conflict, setting, character, symbols and writing style to get his theme across in the book.

        The book starts with the introduction of the main character, Craig Gilner. The main conflict of the story is Craig’s battle with depression and anxiety. Throughout the book the reader sees how Craig develops his symptoms, gets treatment and eventually overcomes it.

“The letter from Executive Pre-Professional High School came in the mail, and mom had saved it on the kitchen table for me… I threw down my backpack and ran past the vampire mirror to the kitchen. There it was: a manila envelope. The good kind of envelope. If you failed the test, you got a small envelope; if you got in, you got the big one” (52).

Craig’s depression and anxiety started acting up when he got accepted to Executive Pre- Professional High School, which is the best public school in Manhattan. The main causes were the school’s high pressure, and heavy work load, being in the shadow of his best friend, and his dad pressuring him to be something he’s not. “I can’t eat, I can’t sleep. I’m not doing well in the terms of being a functional human being, you know” (29). As the months go by Craig’s depression gets worse, he develops and eating disorder, stops sleeping and begins to have suicidal thoughts.

        The majority of the book is set in Six North. Six North is the mental hospital that Craig checks himself into and must stay in for at least five days before he can be deemed ready to leave. During his stay at Six North Craig makes friends with people in the hospital such as Noelle and his roommate Muqtada. Noelle is 15 just like Craig and is admitted for self-harm. Noelle’s depression started to develop when she was sexually abused by several boys at her school. “I cut myself because too many people wanted something from me” (364). By the end of the book Noelle is able to start recovering from her depression due to Craig liking her because or her personality and interests and not because she has a pretty face and a nice body.

        Muqtada is Craig’s Egyptian roommate who doesn’t like to get out of his bed or hospital room. It is unknown as to why Muqtada developed his mental illness, but and the end of the book he gets out of bed when Craig shows him kindness that he does get from any of the other patients or staff, by giving him a record of Egyptian music. “Muqtada pushes the sheets aside in a gesture of hope and strength and determination. It’s tough to get out bed; I know that myself” (423).

Craig’s character development is one of the best examples in the book of how anyone one develop a mental illness and recover from a mental illness. At the beginning of the book Craig says, “I didn’t want to wake up, I was having a much better time asleep, And that’s really sad. It was almost like a reverse nightmare, like when you wake up from a nightmare and you’re really relieved. I woke up into a nightmare.” (12). It is obvious to Craig that his depression and anxiety is going to continue to get worse, which leads him to two options. Getting the help he needs or killing himself. When Craig is checked into the hospital he beings to realize that there are things he can do to help decrease his symptoms such has dropping out of Pre-Professional, getting back into art, stop hanging out with his bad friends, and getting a girlfriend. Instead of waiting for the magical shift. Craig completing all these actions in the book causes him to go from being depressed to an ordinary kid again.

        Throughout the story Vizzini uses many symbols to show how depression has changes Craig’s life. Symbols that are related to his depression are the shift and tentacles. “The Shift is coming. The Shift has to be coming. Because if you keep living like this you’ll die” (46). Craig’s way of describing the development of his depression is the shift, because he thinks he became depressed due to his brain shifting in his head which caused it to become out of place. He wants it to shift back in place so he won’t be depressed anymore.



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