The Bell Jar/Eight

Plot summaryEdit

Chapter eight tells the story of Esther's visit to Buddy's TB sanatorium in the Adirondacks. She was driven there the day after Christmas by Mr Willard. During their drive, he tells Esther that he would love to be able to call her his daughter. At the brown-coloured sanatorium they meet Buddy. Esther is surprised to see him fat, having put on weight due to lot of food and little exercise. They go to Buddy's room, at which point Mr Willard leaves them, assuming Esther would want to say a couple of days before returning on a train. After a short talk, Buddy proposes to Esther to very little reaction. She rejects him, saying she had decided to never marry. She reminds Buddy of when he called her a neurotic for wanting to live in two places at once. She laughs at him scornfully, saying that she'll live between two mutually exclusive things for the rest of her life.

The narrative skips forward to later on during her stay, when Buddy tries to teach Esther how to ski, despite himself knowing only the theory. It goes well at first, but then Esther accidentally takes the rope tow to the top of the hill and, despite her doubts, takes off going straight down. She comes speeding down the slope and crashes, breaking her leg in two places. The chapter ends on Buddy pronouncing this diagnosis.

Example study questionsEdit

  • What do you think about Esther's reaction to Buddy's proposal?