Connie, the heroine of the book Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy, is put in a mental institution, once for abusing her child, and again for attacking a pimp, trying to save her niece. She appears completely sane though, until she starts seeing visions of people living in the futurewho claim to have contacted her because she is "receptive" to them. The question is, is Connie sane and her trip to the future is reality, or is she insane and just hallucinating? Although the book offers no easy answer to this question, there are enough reasons that prove her sanity. Connie appears sane because she seems to be able to think straight and make the right decisions. For example, trying to save her niece from the pimp shows that she has conscience, reason, and sound judgment.
She is also very smart. When she is put in the mental hospital, she learns to manipulate the system. She pretends to swallow her pills, and she chooses her words and actions carefully around the doctors and nurses, and around her social worker,so that she can get out of the institute as soon as possible.
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However, readers, and even Connie herself, start to doubt her sanity when she finds out that she can communicate with the people in the future. Connie is not certain if it is just hallucination. She distrusts her own imagination, which has been manipulated, medicated, and mocked in the past. What proves Connie's sanity is, though, the fact that Luciente has studied and knows so much about the present world.
It is hard to believe that Connie at that time had that much knowledge to make up in her head. Also, everything Connie sees and experiences in the future seems too vivid and descriptive to come just from her imagination. It is not Connie that is insane, but the society of her time.
The fact that Connie has a long medical record of insanity conceals the long history of oppression she has experienced in the materialistic and repressive society. In the male-dominant society, Connie's male oppressors rape and beat her, and eventually send her to the mental hospital. The violent, racist, and capitalistic society deprives her of her rights as a citizen, and even of the guardianship of her daughter. The cruelty of the medical system treats her and her inmates as subhumans or guinea pigs. In conclusion, Connie is not crazy; she is just a woman who is struggling to fight the insanity of the society.