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I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

Joanne Greenberg

Chapters 6-10

Summary Chapters 6-10


When Deborah's tumor was discovered, she felt violated when the doctors examined her, and enraged when they told her that there would be no pain. She tells Dr. Fried that an intern explained that they lied to her so that she would not be afraid. Deborah utters a word of Yr's language during the session. Terrified at her indiscretion, she flees into Yr completely.

Deborah meets Carla, another patient on her ward. Carla's mother shot Carla, Carla's brother, and then herself, but Carla survived. Inside the mental hospital, Carla and other patients are free to call themselves "crazy." Yri language describes Deborah's pain and suffering more accurately than Earth language. Nevertheless, at Dr. Fried's urging, she struggles to describe her feelings in English. When Suzy was born, Deborah horrified the family by declaring that the wrinkled, red baby was ugly. Her family has stood aloof from her since that day while they all loved Suzy, beautiful and carefree, unconditionally. When she started school late, her classmates also stood apart from her. Deborah feels that her mother had recognized the "fatal taint" in her and tried to ameliorate it by taking her classmates out on an excursion. As she recounts the anti-Semitic taunts of her neighbors and peers, Deborah is grateful for Dr. Fried's expression of indignation.

Later, the gods of Yr shout that Deborah is not "one of them." When Deborah slashes her arm with a piece of tin, she is moved to the Disturbed Ward, where she is pleased to find that all pretensions to normalcy are absent. She begins telling Dr. Fried about Yr. At first Yr was a comforting haven, but it has become a source of pain, fear, and tyranny. Afterwards, Deborah suffers a psychotic episode, so the staff places her in restraints. Deborah explains to Dr. Fried that the gods of Yr told her that Three Changes and Their Mirrors would precede her Death. As Deborah recounts three separate incidents in her life, later mirrored by three other incidents, Dr. Fried suggests that Deborah has created a meaningful connection between these events in order to understand and survive in the confusing, inexplicable real world.

The patients on Deborah's ward single out a particular attendant, Hobbs, for abuse. The patients understand that Hobbs fears their insanity because a seed of it exists inside himself. Meanwhile, Helene, a volatile patient, violently attacks Deborah. As in the real world, the attacker receives more attention that the victim. Earlier, Helene showed Deborah a picture of a college classmate. Deborah realizes that Helene attacked her in order to erase that moment of vulnerability.

During one session, Deborah furiously sketches a portrait of her Yri self. Dr. Fried is excited that Deborah has lost her apathy in her attempt to prove that Yr exists. Meanwhile, Carla joins the Disturbed Ward because she wants to stop hiding her "insanity." The other wards are too invested in keeping up the appearance of normalcy. They learn of Doris Rivera, a patient who became well enough to leave after three years at the hospital. The gods of Yr shout that Deborah can never go out into the world again, so Deborah suffers another psychotic episode along with a number of other patients. Carla says that they were all afraid of the threat of having to be well that Doris Rivera represented. Deborah curses Carla and then apologizes because what Carla said might be true.

Meanwhile, Esther and Jacob worry over Deborah's transfer to the Disturbed ward. Suzy shouts that everyone is always worrying about Deborah. Esther visits with Dr. Fried, hoping that she will be allowed to see Deborah, although there is a rule against visits on the Disturbed Ward. In another session, Deborah declares that her essence is poisonous, so she destroyed her sister Suzy. Dr. Fried suggests that she is attempting to hide from the truth of what she actually did to her family, what they actually did to her, and what she is doing to herself. Deborah confesses that she tried to kill Suzy after she was born. Her mother discovered her just as she was poised to throw Suzy out a window. She was never punished, and her parents never spoke of the incident.

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