Study Guide

I Know This Much is True Rules and Order

By Wally Lamb

Rules and Order

"Just do me a favor, will you? Just bring him over to the Settle Building for five minutes. I know the night people there. They can call his doctor and get this sorted out. Because this whole thing is a big mistake." (4.10)

Even though Dominick doesn't know the cops at all, and his brother just committed a crime, he tries to get them to bend the rules for him… and gets offended when they don't.

"All reading material has to be approved first by his doctor or the unit lead." (4.60)

Some of the rules are a little silly, though. They won't even let a Bible into Hatch without being approved. What, is he going to hide a gun in it or something?

"They've placed your brother in a forensic hospital because he's seriously mentally ill and because he's committed a serious crime." (9.105)

Unfortunately, lots of mentally ill people don't get the help they need until they break some serious rules and get court ordered to a facility.

"If the PSRB [Psychiatric Security Review Board] gets ahold of someone on the insanity plea," Sheffer said, "they can keep him at Hatch indefinitely. Which they've intended to do." (9.154)

While Thomas is inside Hatch, Dominick is driving himself crazy trying to navigate all the rules and regulations around getting him transferred… if it's even possible.

"The fifteen-day paper's airtight, Dominick," she said. "There's no way in hell you're getting your brother out of here today. It's out of your hands. Thomas is going to be here for fifteen court-ordered days, minimum." (9.168)

Dominick isn't used to being told what to do, but the rules in this case are inflexible. One of the most frustrating things here is the fact that Dominick can't do anything; he can only wait.

"Get those bruises of yours looked at. […] In case, you know, you needed some documentation. A little leverage for later on. A bargaining tool with the state of Connecticut… Of course, you didn't get that idea from a company gal like me. I'd never suggest something like that." (9.213)

Lisa Sheffer isn't afraid to break the rules for causes she really believes in, and this suggestion of hers is what allows the events at the end of the novel to happen, for better or for worse.

"It could have been worse. It could have been a 3-to-2 recommendation to retain him here." (26.53)

Again, we see a situation that is out of Dominick's control and this makes him very angry. At least he's not the Incredible Hulk, or he'd have Dominick-smashed someone by this point.

"At least we still have one last chance to lobby for his release tomorrow." (26.53)

Lisa Sheffer is once again good at helping Dominick navigate the rules; she is willing to do whatever it takes to free Thomas. Without someone on the inside, Dominick would probably be completely helpless and lost.

His case would be reviewed again in October 1991 and an appropriate decision would be made at that time as to his release or his placement for a second twelve-month period. (30.271)

Many of the rules within the mental health facility are time sensitive. Appeals have to be made within a certain time, for instance, and patients are held for certain lengths of time. There is tons of waiting involved.

Dr. Richard Hume and four other physician-administrators were cleared of charges of negligence related to the spread of AIDS and HIV at Hatch Forensic Institute. (48.4)

For an institution with such strict rules, they have no problem breaking rules of their own, like covering up the AIDS epidemic within the institute. And when Dominick exposes it, they still manage to get off scot-free.