Running with Scissors Study Guide

Running with Scissors

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

Running With Scissors is a memoir in which Augusten Burroughs recounts his unusual childhood after his mother sends him to live with her psychiatrist, Dr. Finch, at age twelve. There are few rules in the Finch household, and both Augusten and Dr. Finch's other children do mostly as they please, including smoking pot and having sex. At age thirteen, Augusten begins a sexual relationship with Finch's thirty-three-year-old son. Despite this unorthodox, and at times damaging, parenting method, Augusten comes to think of the Finches as his family.

Augusten and Natalie sit at the kitchen table pondering their lives. Natalie is depressed because she misses her lover, Terrance Maxwell. When Natalie was thirteen, Terrance was Forty One. Terrance was a semiprofessional tennis player who lamented the fact that he’d never gone pro, and who also mourned for his mother who burned to death when her cigarette ignited her easy chair while she was drunk. Allegedly, the two had been romantically involved. Additionally, he was a millionaire.

Terrance and Natalie met when he was receiving treatment from Dr. Finch. Terrance soon became Natalie’s lover and legal guardian. He was abusive verbally and physically to Natalie, who left him after three years, taking him to court and winning 75 thousand dollars, all of which went to Dr. Finch.

Augusten, in contrast to Natalie, is depressed because the ceiling is too low. So, the two embark on a project to knock the ceiling out, which they do. The reaction by the rest of the family is minimal, and the result of the ceiling being gone does nothing to change the depressing mood it had caused. So, the two then talk Dr. Finch into giving them 125 dollars to install a skylight. Instead of using the money for supplies, Natalie and Augusten remove a window from a pantry and rig it up as a skylight, leaving a seven and a half inch gap in the ceiling through which rain and snow fall from that day forward.

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