The novel has been written in the setting of a US environment. The novel unfolds in the first person in most of the chapters. It was written at the time when administration of psychiatric drugs to patients was not very common and patients were treated using much kind of therapies. In that era surgery and restraint were mainly used to cure patients. Joanne Greenberg like all of his other writings has effectively highlighted a social problem of abuse on the basis of religion and physical disability. The writer has touched upon subjects like depression, mental illness, discrimination, life in American mental hospitals, role of psychiatrists and most importantly therapeutic recreation. I Never Promised You a Rose Garden1 is a touching story of Deborah Blau who unfortunately passes through a trauma of surgery and subsequent mental illness in early stages of life. At the age of sixteen, she undergoes a surgery of urinary tract which she and her parents consider inappropriate to share. Her parents named Esther and Jacob are shy of disclosing nature of this surgery to the society and relatives. The trauma of surgery has a profound effect on the life of the girl. Firstly she bears great pain and grief on this account. Secondly she plunges into a mental disease associated with deep depression and anxiety called schizophrenia and makes an attempt to commit suicide. The novel gives a detailed account of experiences encountered by this patient of schizophrenia as well as others in the hospital. The novel narrates behavior of psychological patients amongst each other, with the hospital staff and towards the outside world. The novel also highlights many physical and mental difficulties faced by parents of patient, Jacob and Esther Blau in this regard. Deborah remains in the hospital for three years under treatment of a very kind and competent doctor named Clara Fried. Before reaching the doctor the girl is hopeless about life and attempts suicide, however remains unsuccessful. The financial and emotional cost of three years treatment in the hospital is enormous for the family and the patient. During the course of her stay at the hospital Deborah feels insecure, bitter and frightened initially. She is afraid of real world as well as people and personalities living in it. She had bad experiences in school where she had been treated badly on account of being a Jewish child. She is also frightened to see the hospital staff beating the patients. She withdraws into herself and reaches an altogether new world in her imagination. She had created this place in her childhood imaginations and names this fake world as Yr. She had earlier experienced that Yr had been a safe heaven for her in difficult times. However during the hospital era, she feels that even Yr is not able to give her refuge. The Gods in Yr also start abusing and teasing her. In this mental state, she keeps switching between real and imaginary worlds unable to decide where to live permanently. Here the help of Dr Clara Fried emerges who treats her with benevolence and professional competence. The doctor helps her on many occasions and gives her freedom to make own choices in life. The writer has given much attention to developing characters in the novel. The novel primarily revolves around the character of Deborah which is very close to reality. The reader feels that novel is narrating a real life story. Although in day to day life people do not come across issues related to mentally ill people, the novel
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I Never Promised You A Rose Garden. Summary Joanne Greenberg has written the novel, I never Promised You a Rose Garden, published in the year 1964. The era of storey revolves around 1940s to 1960s…
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