The Bell Jar/Three

Plot overviewEdit

The chapter opens on the next day during a banquet. Of the twelve girls only eleven are there, as Doreen is away with Lenny Shepherd on Coney Island. Esther remarks on the amount and quality of food that she isn't used to. Some of the items on the table make her remember her grandmother's food, her grandfather's job as a waiter and a lunch she had with her editor Jay Cee and a “famous poet” who had a peculiar way of eating lettuce. Esther talks with Betsy about a fur show and Esther's reasons for not going. She makes u a half-lie about being called into Jay Cee's office that morning. She omits the fact that she never wanted to go to the show, but had planned to spend the day lying in bed instead.

Esther then recollects her talk with Jay Cee. Jay Cee asks Esther about her plans for the future and urges her to learn languages, get involved with the magazine and work to further her future career. Esther is stunned to realise that she has no clear goal or destination in life, and despite theoretically having great prospects she doesn't know what to do. She recalls her college classes and how she has very good grades despite hating subjects such as physics or chemistry. She had had a talk with the Dean about having a custom schedule that would allow her to focus on literature studies and the Faculty Board agreed to the request, with Esther remarking that had they known how scared and depressed she was they would have never done so. The chapter ends with Esther remembering her sitting in chemistry class pretending to take notes.

Example study questionsEdit

  • What can you say about the style of narration in the Bell Jar based on this (and later) chapters?
  • What do you think about Esther's reactions to Jay Cee's questions?