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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cat In Glass

In Cat in Glass, the main character is sent to a mental hospital by her husband after she slipped into depression because she wasn’t able to cope with the loss of her daughter, and years earlier her sister. Though she grew to like it there she always knew bad things happened in mental institutions, she claimed, “if there was foulness and bedlam, it was no worse than the outside world” (Oates 495).  After many years, her daughter got her released from the institution because it was getting too expensive for her family to pay for. The second time the narrator was institutionalized, came after her granddaughter’s death. When the nurses ask, “you don’t even know what you’ve done, do you,” she can only reply with “I destroyed a valuable work of art” (Oates 499). She has no recollection of how she got to the institution and why she was there. All she knows is that the nurses won’t tell her what she did, even though as a reader, I know that she killed her granddaughter.

    It is no secret that mental institutions in the past one hundred years have been known for mistreatment and neglect. Recently in the news, three women from North Texas reported that they were held against their will at two mental institutions in Denton. None of them knew why they were sent there in the first place, and when they asked the staff, they refused to tell them. Withholding a patient’s medical record from a patient is 100% against the law. One of the girls told the news anchor: "I don't know if you know how it feels to be held against your will, but basically, it's terrifying” (Harris 1). As if this experience wasn’t horrifying enough, the women were charged over $1,000 per day spent at the hospital against their will. These women were essentially prisoners. When they threatened to leave, the staff told them they would have to go to mental health court where they could be punished with weeks of additional time in the institute (Harris 1). Like the narrator in Cat in Glass, her family had to spend a lot of money for her to be in a place that she didn’t chose to be in. Though she understood why she was sent to the hospital the first time, the second time she clearly didn’t understand what had happened.

      As terrifying as it is, this news story is significant because this could mean that malpractice in mental hospitals could be happening not just all over Texas but also throughout the nation. Many of the hospitals in Texas are corporately owned and they have hospitals all over the country. (Harris 1).

Etchemendy, Nancy. “Cat in Glass.” American Gothic Tales. Ed. Joyce Carol Oates. New York: The Penguin Group. 486-499. Print

Harris, Byron. "Women say Denton mental hospitals mistreated them." WFAA ABC [Denton] 11 11 2013, n. pag. Web. 14 Nov. 2013.

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