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Part 3, Chapter 11 Notes from The Bell Jar

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The Bell Jar Part 3, Chapter 11

Dr. Gordon has a large beige waiting room. It has been three weeks since she got back from New York City and Esther is still wearing Betsy's clothing. She has not washed her hair in as long. She thinks it is useless to wash hair because you just have to wash it again. She also thinks that she has not slept in all that time. She remembers all the hours lying awake at night. It makes her tired to think of washing her hair and changing her clothing.

Dr. Gordon tells her that her mother is very upset and worried about her. Esther is disappointed in the doctor. She thought he would be older and intelligent looking. Instead, he is young and sits behind his large desk looking very conceited. She doesn't trust him because he is good looking. She is irrationally infuriated by the photograph on his desk. It is of his beautiful wife and children. She doesn't think that someone with such a beautiful life could understand her problems. He asks her to tell him what she thinks is wrong. She is upset that he says 'think' because this implies that there is nothing really wrong. She tells him that she cannot sleep or eat but she omits her problem with her handwriting. Earlier, she had tried to write Doreen a letter asking if she could live with her:

"But when I took up my pen, my hand made big, jerky letters like those of a child, and the lines sloped down the page from left to right almost diagonally, as if they were loops of string lying on the paper, and someone had come along and blown them askew." Chapter 11, pg. 106

She tore up the letter and hid it in her purse. While she talks, his head is bent and his hands are folded in front of his face. He asks where she goes to school, and he reacts with some anecdote about when he was at her school during the war. Without reacting to anything she said, he tells her that he will see her the next week. When she goes outside, her mother sighs when she hears that Esther has to go back again the next week. Going to Dr. Gordon costs 25 dollars an hour.

While at the Boston Common, Esther meets a sailor and tells him her name is Elly Higginbottom and that she is from Chicago. She worries about running into Mrs. Willard who is often out shopping during the day. She thinks that life might be better in Chicago and she starts to try and figure out how she would get there. The sailor tells her that they should go over behind a monument where no one can see them and kiss. Esther thinks she sees Mrs. Willard coming and begins to tell the sailor very loudly to leave her alone. When she realizes that it couldn't possibly be Mrs. Willard, because she went to her cabin in the mountains, she explains to the sailor that she is an orphan. The woman who approached them looked like a woman from Chicago who ran the orphanage and was allegedly very cruel to her. She cries and the sailor thinks she is sad because she's an orphan.

She goes back to Dr. Gordon and repeats everything she said the week before, except that she includes the part about the handwriting. She empties the remnants of the letter on his desk. Dr. Gordon asks her if it is all right if he goes out and talks to her mother. Esther says he can and while he is out of the room, she puts the scraps of the letter back into her bag so that no one can piece it back together and find out that she was planning to run away. When she gets in the car, her mother tells her that Dr. Gordon thinks she should have shock therapy. Esther panics because she doesn't believe in her mother's promise that she wouldn't have to stay at the hospital, Walton.

Later, Esther is reading the tabloid papers. She reads about a man who was stopped from throwing himself off a building by a police officer. The article doesn't explain why the man wanted to commit suicide or how the officer made him stop. She likes these papers even though she has never read them before. They are pulpy and honest. The only paper she had ever read was the 'Christian Science Monitor'. As she circles the public garden, Esther reads the names of the trees. Her favorite tree is the 'weeping scholar.' She thinks it must be from Japan. This makes her think of Japanese ritual suicide. Such an act seems honorable to her.

The next morning Dido Conway drivers her and her mother to Walton. She thinks of running away but realizes that it would be useless to try.

"I decided to walk to the bus terminal and inquire about the fares to Chicago. Then I might go to the bank and withdraw precisely that amount which would not cause so much suspicion" Chapter 11, pg. 113

She went to the bus station but realized that the bank had already closed for the day and would not be open again until her appointment was over the next day. She resigns herself to the fact that she cannot escape the electroshock.

Topic Tracking: Sexuality 8
Topic Tracking: Confusion 6

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