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The Bell Jar
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The Bell Jar > Bell Jar: Chapter 11-15

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Anna (Cask & Quill) (caskandquill) | 25 comments Mod
Chapter 11-15 discussion area!

message 2: by Kat (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kat (freekat) | 5 comments There were a few things I found to be most interesting about these chapters.
Her feelings towards each psychiatrist Dr. Gordon vs. Dr. Norton. One is a young man that she feels a hatred toward and he doesn't seem to be doing anything to help her, going along with the feelings that Esther has been expressing about men. Then there's Dr. Norton, at first Esther seems skeptical about everything continuing with the feeling that nothing will ever help her but we slowly start to see a progression.

Her mother's feelings, and I'm sure many did and still do feel this way, about depression...that it's a choice to be feeling the way that Esther is. That by Esther saying she's going to try, that's enough for her mother to believe that she will get better, or that by volunteering at a hospital to see that others have it worse will help.

By far the most interesting thing that I picked up, a lot more in these chapters and I'm not sure if it has to do with Plath's writing style/use of descriptors, was the fact that Esther is very in tune to the color of things. She's constantly describing the color of Dr. Gordon's brown everything or her volunteer outfit compared to the nurses outfit. Like I said I don't know if that's just the author trying to paint the picture or if it had any underlying meaning.

Anna (Cask & Quill) (caskandquill) | 25 comments Mod
I like what you mentioned about the use of color! I think it’s fun to treat that as though it’s significant, whether it was intended to be or not. Makes me want to reread watching out for it!

Ughhh Dr. Gordon was soooo frustrating!! It made me wonder about the narrator’s reliability even, wondering how any doctor could possibly be that incompetent. I was thinking “surely there had to be more to their conversation and these are just the relevant pieces or this was her experience of it.” Either way, what a nightmare for someone who needs help and has made the step to get it only to wind up feeling so misled.

I was also struck by her mother’s sticking to the belief that she’d just decide to be better at some point. I wonder if that’s something she feels is easier to take than admitting something is really wrong, or if that’s solely just her own ignorance. Maybe a combination?

The thing that stuck out most to me in these chapters was the rawness and matter-of-factness in Esther’s suicide attempts. There wasn’t a whole lot of hemming and hawing that we saw about whether it was the thing to do, but more her going about it as a job to be done. And when she met obstacles, moving coldly on to the next possibility. That made the sort of emptiness or deadness incredibly palpable.

Has anyone else found Esther’s descriptions and interactions with people of color to be unsettling? Again, not sure if that’s owing to a product of the times or if there’s something more being said there. The man she describes as the “Negro” in this section was what brought it to mind again.

During that scene I had to laugh though at the line, “Now I knew perfectly well you didn’t serve two kinds of beans together at a meal.” Of course she goes on to describe how she believes this is “the Negro” trying to see how much they could take and the paranoia and distrust she’s feeling, particularly towards medical institutions, is pretty strong in that moment.

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