Notes on I Never Promised You a Rose Garden Themes

Joanne Greenberg
This section contains 606 words
(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page)
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I Never Promised You a Rose Garden Topic Tracking: Fear

Chapter 1

Fear 1: Esther and Jacob are afraid that they might be making a mistake in leaving Deborah at a mental hospital because the idea is so cruel. But they also know that she needs help, and they don't have many other alternatives. Their fear and Deborah's own fear play a large part in the story.

Chapter 2

Fear 2: Most of the problems that Deborah faces are rooted in her fear of the world. Her fear of deception, rejection, and loneliness are all parts of the mental illness that she fights. At this point of the story, Deborah is afraid of what will happen if she reveals the secrets of Yr to anyone. Yr is where she hides from what hurts or scares her, and if she opens that world to anyone else, it may destroy it. What will happen to her if her refuge is annihilated?

Chapter 3

Fear 3: Deborah hears the voices of the Collect telling her that she'll be crazy forever and that she'll never be able to leave the hospital. The Collect is the sound of her own fear echoing through her brain.

Chapter 4

Fear 4: Deborah's own fear isn't all that threatens her recovery. Deborah doesn't want to see Jacob because she knows that he is afraid of the hospital. She knows that being there is good for her because they acknowledge her illness, so she doesn't have to pretend to be well when she's not. But if Jacob sees her, he might not let her stay there anymore, and so she refuses to see him when her mother comes to visit.

Chapter 9

Fear 5: The entire Disturbed ward is terrified by the story of Doris Rivera, the patient who made it back out into the real world. The idea that they might one day have to face the world outside of the hospital sends many of them into fits and breakdowns because they are so sick that the thought of life in reality is terrifying.

Chapter 11

Fear 6: Hobbs' fear of the similarity between himself and the women of the Disturbed ward finally drives him to commit suicide. Ellis comes to replace Hobbs, and the same fear is visible in his eyes. His fear stems from the fact that the only thing that separates him from the women of the ward is the key that he carries to unlock the ward door.

Chapter 18

Fear 7: Deborah is afraid that her poisoned essence will infect Carla, and because she cares for Carla, Deborah has to protect her friend from the poison. Because of this concern, she withdraws from Carla for a while.

Chapter 21

Fear 8: Deborah is afraid that if she gives in completely to her anger, she could hurt someone. So her great tantrum is partly the anger that has been building up in her over a lifetime, but it's also partly caused by her fear that she can't control that great anger. But what she doesn't realize is that she is controlling it in some way.

Chapter 22

Fear 9: Deborah's fear of the outside world lessens slightly when she realizes that she is going to live. She isn't hiding from it anymore. Now she's embracing life and working at her own recovery.

Chapter 26

Fear 10: Deborah is afraid of the love and kindness that her parents have shown her by letting her stay in the hospital where she can get help. The reason that these emotions scare her is because she expects deception and betrayal from the world; it scares her to find that such wonderful things exist in the same world that holds lying doctors and hateful children.

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