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Chapter 15 Notes from The Bell Jar

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The Bell Jar Chapter 15

She is in a Cadillac with Philomena Guinea who is paying for Esther to go to a private hospital. Mrs. Guinea made sure that Esther wasn't in trouble with any boys before she said she'd help her. Esther's mother thinks that she should be more grateful than she is. If it wasn't for Mrs. Guinea's help, Esther would be going to a state hospital where the care is very bad. She has her own room on the first floor and there are no bars on the windows. Esther realizes that she wouldn't even bruise herself if she jumped. Her doctor is a young woman named Dr. Nolan. When she is first in her room, many strange doctors enter and introduce themselves. She is reminded of the doctors at the last hospital. A male doctor tells her about pilgrims and indians and she knows that he is telling lies. He leaves and Esther is surprised to find out that she can wander around the place. She wanders into the lounge and meets a girl named Valerie. She tries to introduce herself but is not very successful. Valerie tells her that all of the other patients are out walking or at occupational therapy. Valerie reminds her of a girl scout leader she once knew. She cannot understand why Valerie is at the hospital. She is reading a fashion magazine and seems very normal.

When Dr. Nolan comes to speak to her, she asks if she is all right. Then she asks if she can smoke. Esther says she can, admitting that she likes the smell. She asks Esther why she didn't like Dr. Gordon. Esther tells her about her terrible experience with shock therapy. Dr. Nolan is upset about this and she tells Esther that it isn't supposed to happen like that. According to Dr. Nolan, most people feel that getting a shock treatment is like going to sleep. She assures Esther that if she gets any more shock therapy she will be warned ahead of time and that it will be much different. When Dr. Nolan leaves, Esther is happy to see that she has left matches behind. She thinks she may be being tested, but she hides the matches in the hem of her robe anyway.

A new woman moves into the room next to hers. Esther goes in to introduce herself and sits there for a long time. The woman, Mrs. Norris, stays silent and gets up. Esther follows her to the dining room where they sit and wait for dinner without talking. The nurses inject Esther with insulin every day and give her a sugary glass of fruit juice afterwards. They wait carefully to see if she has any sort of negative reaction. Esther begins to get fatter.

After a while, she is allowed to walk in the gardens, but Mrs. Norris is never allowed to go outside. Valerie walks around with her and shows her the scars on her temples. These are lobotomy scars. Valerie is proud of them she says, "I'm not angry anymore. Before I was angry all the time." Chapter 15, pg. 158. Valerie is probably never going to leave the hospital.

Esther is abruptly told that she is moving to the other side of the house. This denotes some sort of progress. Mrs. Norris is not moving up, she is moving down to Wymark house. The house they are in is Caplan. It is the middle house. Esther has been waiting for Mrs. Norris to talk for three weeks, but she hasn't. On the day of the moving, the nurse tells her that someone she knows is coming to stay in the hospital. It is Joan, an ex-girlfriend of Buddy.

Topic Tracking: Maternal Relationships 8
Topic Tracking: Confusion 10

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