At the Clinic


This study guide will help you analyze the short story “At the Clinic” by Sally Rooney. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective

Presentation of the text

Title: “At the Clinic” (2016)
Author: Sally Rooney
Genre: Short story

Born in 1991, Sally Rooney is a celebrated Irish author. She is best known for her novels Normal People (2018) and Conversations with Friends (2017), both of which have been successfully transformed into well-received TV adaptations. The short story "At the Clinic," featured in The White Review, marks the first appearance of Marianne and Connell – the central characters who would later grace the pages of Rooney's novel, Normal People.


You can read an excerpt from the study guide below.

Several flashbacks reveal the complex dynamics between the two characters. For example, a flashback reveals that, a week ago, Marianne and Connell have been sexually intimate and engaged in a conflict:

A week previously Marianne gave him head in his apartment and complained afterwards that her jaw hurt, and he was like, do you have to complain about everything all the time? Then they argued. They were both a little drunk.

Marianne and Connell’s complex relationship is further explored through other flashbacks, which reveal that both characters have recently been in relationships with other people. Furthermore, although Marianne and Connell are sexually intimate regularly, they do not want to engage in a romantic relationship with each other. 

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At the Clinic

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