Study Guide

A Million Little Pieces Rules and Order

By James Frey

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Rules and Order

Every organization has its rules. You don't run in the halls at school. You don't talk in the elevator if you work at Goldman Sachs. And if you're in rehab, well, there's a whole long list of things not to do and not do: follow the Twelve Steps, don't do drugs, don't interact with members of the opposite sex…

In A Million Little Pieces, James Frey, being the contrarian that he is, tends to break most of the rules—except, strangely, the easiest rule for a drug user to break: the one that says don't relapse. If we had to assign the role of antagonist to someone in this book, it wouldn't go to a person; it would go to The Rules.

Questions About Rules and Order

  1. What are some of the rules of the clinic? Do you think all of the rules are reasonable?
  2. Which rules does James break? Why does he break them?
  3. Do the other patients have a difficult time following the rules?
  4. Do the counselors and psychologists do an adequate job of enforcing the rules? Do they break any rules on their own?

Chew on This

James has never done well with structure. He never followed his parents' rules, so it's unsurprising that he breaks the rules set by the clinic, too.

Some of the rules do James good. Despite the incident with Roy, having a job on the job board gives James's life in rehab a nice sense of order.

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