The Bell Jar/Five

Plot overviewEdit

The chapter continues on the next morning, Esther still recovering from her food poisoning. She receives a phone call from the simultaneous interpreter Constantin, that Mrs. Willard promised to introduce to her. Esther remarks on his interesting name and how she “collects” men with names like these. They agree on taking a tour of the UN, where Constantin works, as well as having “a bite to eat afterward”. She imagines herself in a relationship with a handsome and exotic Russian interpreter that would immediately fall in love with her. She then tries to subvert her fantasy by hoping Constantin would be short and ugly, so that she could look down on him the same way she does on Buddy Willard, who she considers a hypocrite. She refers to her past experiences with Buddy and how she went from adoring him from afar to hating him, but doesn't go into detail. She mentions how everybody expects the two to marry, but she wants to break up with Buddy, only waiting until his TB is cured to tell him her mind.

Esther remembers her first day at the hotel and how she made a faux pas by not tipping the bellhop. She recounts how Doreen explained tipping to her later on, and how she had another awkward experience by inappropriately tipping a cab driver. She then opens the book The Thirty Best Short Stories of the Year and reads the story of the Jew, nun and the fig tree. She draws a comparison between the characters of the story and herself and Buddy Willard, how they met under their imaginary fig tree, then witnessed a baby being born and went their separate ways. She thinks about conversations she used have with Buddy, both real and imaginary where she would always come up with arguments to counter his. She reflects on their relationship and recalls how she was invited by him to the Yale Prom, how their date during the Prom went and how she was kissed by him for the first time afterwards. The chapter ends on Esther mentioning how she found out what a hypocrite Buddy really was “on the day they saw the baby born.”.

Example study questionsEdit

  • What do you think about Esther and Buddy's relationship as shown in this chapter?