Linda Bishop tells the story of her early years as a nursing student. She soon realizes that she doesn't actually want to be a nurse, but she continues in training, "waiting for some unspeakable horror that I could hold up to the light to prove to myself that the hospital was a truly monstrous place."

While Linda is quiet and sexually inexperienced, her first roommate, Holly Bostwick (Boss), is reputed to have a sensational sexual history and to be afflicted with syphilis. When Linda brings Holly home for Thanksgiving, Linda's mother is impressed with her daughter's new friend, a young woman much more confident and articulate than ambivalent Linda.

Somewhat later, after Boss becomes engaged to a gas station owner, Linda returns by train from visiting her parents. She is determined to make a final decision. She lists what she hates about the hospital and what she likes about it. Will she leave or will she stay?


This is in a sense a "coming of age" story, a young woman's growth in wisdom and strength, although most of the growth is reserved for the last page or two. Linda's epiphany comes in the last paragraph when she says, "I knew that when I left the hospital I would just have to do it and not ask for anyone's permission."

But whether this is a true epiphany is unclear. In the following sentence she imagines leaving the hospital as a game of darts. Though she fantasizes "taking perfect aim for a buttock," it may well be that her personal target is still invisible.

Primary Source

Let Me Be the One


Harper Collins

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