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Chapter 10 Notes from The Bell Jar

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The Bell Jar Chapter 10

In the morning, she thinks that she looks sick and unfamiliar. She had to borrow clothing from Betsy because she threw away everything she owned the night before. There is dried blood on her face but she doesn't bother to wash it off. She takes the train and meets her mother. She tells her that she didn't make the writing course at Harvard she thought she was going to be taking. Esther is nervous and she doesn't want to spend the rest of the summer in the suburbs. When she gets home, she goes to sleep. She wakes in the morning and sees her neighbor outside. She doesn't like the neighbors. Walking by is Dodo Conway. Dodo is a Catholic woman who went to a decent college, then married a Catholic man, and is now pregnant with her seventh child. Everyone in the neighborhood likes Dodo. Her children make Esther sick.

Esther crawls back into bed. The phone rings and it is her friend from school, Jody, who thinks that Esther is coming to live with her in Cambridge. Esther tells her that she didn't make the creative writing course. Jody tries to convince her to come anyway and take another course. Esther tells her to get another roommate for the summer. When she hangs up the phone she regrets this. She opens a letter from Buddy:

"Billy wrote that he was probably falling in love with a nurse who also had TB but his mother had rented a cottage in the Adirondacks for the months of July, and if I came along with her, he might well find his feeling for the nurse was mere infatuation." Chapter 10, pg. 97-8

She simply turns the letter over and writes on it that she is engaged to a simultaneous interpreter and she never wants to see him again. She tapes the envelope back together and readdresses it. She decides to spend the summer writing a novel. She takes out a typewriter and a fresh piece of paper. The heroine of the story is going to be her, but in disguise. She writes three or four lines and then admires her own work even though she has a suspicious feeling that she has read part of it somewhere before. Her mother gets home and asks her why she hasn't gotten dressed. She writes two more lines and then thinks that she cannot write a novel until she has more life experience. By the end of dinner, her mother has her convinced she should study shorthand at night. She takes out a blackboard and begins to teach her. After a while, Esther says that she has a headache and tells her mother that she is going to bed. "I had decided I would put off the novel until I had gone to Europe and had a lover." Chapter 10, pg. 100. She thinks about working on her thesis for the rest of the summer, or delaying the next year of college, or going to Germany. She thinks that her life is like a line of telephone poles. She cannot see the next pole and feels disconnected. She sleeps in the same room as her mother and pretends to be asleep until she leaves for work in the morning. Her mother snores terribly and she is up most of the night. She tries to read Finnegan's Wake for her thesis, but she cannot focus. She doesn't understand any of it. She decides not to do a thesis and do the normal English track instead. When she looks at the requirements for the normal courses, she gets more discouraged. She hasn't met most of them because they are drastically different requirements. She feels bad because she always looked down on people in the non-honors track. She suddenly realizes that some of them know more than she does. She gets more upset. She goes to the family doctor, Teresa, who is actually related by marriage, and asks her for stronger sleeping pills. Teresa doesn't think that Esther needs stronger sleeping pills; she thinks she needs to see a psychiatrist. She refers her to Dr. Gordon.

Topic Tracking: Confusion 5
Topic Tracking: Sexuality 7
Topic Tracking: Maternal Relationships 5

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