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Part 1,Chapter 1 Notes from The Bell Jar

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The Bell Jar Part 1,Chapter 1

It is the summer that the Rosenbergs are executed. The weather is hot and terrible in New York City and Esther Greenwood cannot get their faces out of her head. During the day, she works at an internship as an editorial assistant. Thinking of her picture in a glamorous women's magazine, Esther feels that she is no longer in control of her life. She floats from work to home without any real intent.

There are eleven other girls working as assistants. They all won positions through a contest in a fashion magazine. Esther received a make-up kit as one of her prizes, but she never really uses it. The girls are staying at a woman's hotel called the Amazon and their rooms are all clustered together like a dormitory. Esther thinks that the other girls are awfully boring. They make her sick as they tan and paint their nails. One of the girls is Doreen who has bleached blond hair, blue eyes and a southern accent.

"Doreen singled me out right away. She made me feel I was that much sharper than the others, and she really was wonderfully funny. She used to sit next to me at the conference table, and when the visiting celebrities were talking she'd whisper witty sarcastic remarks to me under her breath." Chapter 1, pg. 4

Doreen comes from a very fashion-conscious college where they make purses to match their dresses. At night she wears lace and nylon bedclothes while the other girls wear flannel and cotton nightgowns. She doesn't understand why Esther works so hard. Their boss is Jay Cee who Doreen thinks is ugly. There is a knock on their door and it is Betsy, who is always trying to get them to go to some party or something. She wants them to go to a party with boys from Yale. This makes Esther think of her boyfriend Buddy Willard who went to Yale before he went to medical school. They get dressed and get in a cab. Esther thinks that Doreen looks great but that she looks yellow in complexion. When the cab stops, a man comes up to its window and asks the girls if they want to go for a drink. His friends snicker. Doreen and Esther get out and follow him. He pays their fare and one of his friends, named Frankie, joins them. The bar is dark and Esther is confused about what she should order to drink. She orders straight vodka because she remembers a magazine ad that made it look crisp and tasty. Doreen smokes a cigarette and the man introduces himself as Lenny Shepherd. Esther tells them that her name is Elly Higginbottom and that she is from Chicago. Frankie asks her to dance but she won't. He leaves. Lenny and Doreen dance together. Later, Doreen convinces Esther to follow them back to Lenny's place. Esther thinks that the whole night is unfolding like a car accident.

Topic Tracking: Sexuality 1
Topic Tracking: Confusion 1

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