The Bell Jar/Fifteen

Plot summaryEdit

Chapter fifteen begins in Boston traffic, as Esther is taken in Philomena Guinea's car to a private hospital. She had apparently been interested in Esther's case and took it upon herself to put her in a proper institution until she is well again. Esther knows she should feel grateful, but finds that she can't feel anything, and it wouldn't make a differnce if she was going on a tour of Europe or on a cruise instead.

At the hospital, she is gven her own room, and she is introduced to Docto Nolan, a slim young womanthat would be Esther's doctor. Esther decides to explore the hospital and finds out that she's not restricted by anyone and that most of the patients are outside playing golf or badminton. In the lounge she meets Valerie, a girl that looks like a Girl Scout and not like there's anything wrong with her, as Esther remarks.

Esther tells Doctor Nolan about Doctor Gordon and her time at his hospital. The doctor tells Esther that her electroshock therapy wasn't done properly and that she won't have it performed on Esther, at least not without telling her about it beforehand.

Esther makes the acquaintance of a new patient, Miss Norris. She's an older woman who doesn't speak, but Esther spends time in her room and follows her to sit with her at the empty cafeteria table until supper. Later on Esther gets a regular insulin injection and comments how she seems to be getting fatter and fatter. Esther talks more with Valerie and she shows off her lobotomy scars on her forehead. Valerie says it helped with her anger issues and she can now go out into the town shopping, or to see a movie.

The chapter ends with Esther moving to another part of the house and Miss Norris moving to Wymark, a different branch of the hospital for the more difficult cases. When Esther arrives in her new room, the nurse tells her to go meet her neighbor, who turns out to be her friend, Joan.

Example study questionsEdit

  • How is Doctor Nolan different from Doctor Gordon?
  • Comment on the imagery of the bell jar introduced in this chapter in relation to the rest of the novel.