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.

In preparing for a yard sale, the Finches decide that they like being outdoors with their furniture, so they essentially start living on their lawn. Watching TV, making milkshakes, and nearly everything but sleeping is done outside.

Augusten splits his time between the Finches and his Mother’s, traveling by bus. He reflects on how he can tell in advance if his mother is about to have a psychotic break. Recounting some of the odd behaviors he will witness, such as eating candle wax or covering her coffee table with cigarette ads clipped from magazines.

On a visit to Amherst, Augusten finds his mother in a bath with pink bubbles and soon finds out that she has cut herself on broken glass that Dorothy placed in her bath water. Dorothy is in the kitchen laughing hysterically while putting mustard on crackers. Soon, Deirdre leaves the bath and the two of them begin burning 50 dollar bills with a candle.

Augusten calls Hope, who comes to try to deal with the situation. She arrives, and Deirdre shows her a box filled with Locust husks which frightens her. Deirdre then begins throwing dishes at Augusten and calling him the devil and a Nazi. Hope calls the police, who take Deirdre away.

Augusten looks in the back yard and sees that Dorothy and his Mother have littered it with forks, knives and crystal stem ware.

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