The Burn Journals Literary Analysis

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“I don’t know why I did it. I was just so sad. I don’t know why” (276). In The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon, Brent tells the story of his heat of the moment decision to attempt suicide at the age of 14 years old. His brother, Craig, is the first to discover him engulfed in smoke after Brent douses himself with gasoline and lights a match. Brent’s mental illness brings severe trauma to himself and his family, and they each attempt to cope with the stress and guilt from the situation in different ways such as suppressing their feelings, caring for each other, placing blame, and distracting him/herself from the event. Mr. and Mrs. Runyon both suppress their feelings in order to put their focus on helping Brent recover. When Brent first wakes up in the hospital, his dad is by his side. “I ask him if he ever wanted to kill himself, and he says that he must have once, a long time ago, and I feel better because even if he’s lying, then it’s nice of him” (38). Mr. Runyon tries to make Brent feel as normal as possible with his answer, in order to help Brent heal psychologically. Additionally, Mr. Runyon begins smoking again towards the end of the novel, showing that he…show more content…
He prides himself on his wit and clever thinking, so being quick on his feet during his treatment helps Brent feel more like himself, assisting him cope with the ordeal. While being wheeled down to the operating room for surgery, Brent tries to ease the tension: “I ask them if they know the way, just to be funny, and they say, “Yes, we know the way.” And I ask them if they're, sure and they say, yes, they’re sure. I think they know I’m joking” (78). By making light of the situation, Brent eases his own anxiety, and makes being in the hospital a little less horrible. His comedy doesn’t end after he leaves the Burn Unit. Brent cracks another off-the-cuff joke after he gets his first haircut after the
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