Chapter 19 Notes from The Bell Jar

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The Bell Jar Chapter 19

Joan tells Esther that she is going to be a psychiatrist when she gets out of the hospital. She begins to talk about a bunch of Freudian stuff and Esther stops listening. Then she tells her that she is leaving and is going to live with one of the nurses in Cambridge. Esther congratulates her and Joan asks her if she will come visit her when she gets out. Esther says she will, but knows that she won't.

Esther is in the middle of having sex with a man named Irwin. It is hurting her quite a lot, and she doesn't understand why it would hurt so much. She met him in the front of a library that afternoon. His face is a little ugly, but he looks intelligent. She found out that he was a professor of math at age 26. He came up to her and asked her the time, even though he had a watch of his own. They went to have coffee, and she practiced her new normal personality. They drank three cups of coffee and then went back to his apartment for a beer. She saw his apartment and decided that she was going to seduce him. While they were talking, the doorbell rang. It was another woman. When he came back, she playfully accused him of being quite a ladies' man. He didn't deny it. She decided that she wanted to lose her virginity to him. She called up Dr. Nolan and told her that she wouldn't be back to the hospital until later, explaining why. She had practiced putting in her diaphragm earlier that day. Earlier that week, she had decided that she was definitely going to have sex because, "ever since I'd learned about the corruption of Buddy Willard, my virginity weighed like a millstone around my neck." Chapter 19, pg. 180. After being inside her for a while, Irwin gets up and goes to the bathroom to shower. Esther isn't quite sure what to think. She still hurts but feels happy that she is no longer a virgin. She is bleeding, but he told her that this happened sometimes. She begins to realize that she is bleeding too much, when the towel he gives her is sopping wet with blood. She puts it between her legs and rushes to Joan's place. By the time she gets there, blood it running down her legs. Joan is shocked. She calls doctors for her, but no one will come to the house because it is Sunday. Esther thinks she is going to die. Joan calls a taxi and they go to the emergency room. They look at her and tell her not to worry. They fix her up quickly, telling her that what happened to her happens to one in a million women. She is happy when she hears that she will be able to have sex again.

Back at the hospital, Joan's doctor comes into her room. Instead of talking about what happened to her, as Esther expects, the doctor asks her to help them find Joan. Joan had been brought back to the hospital, but was missing. She is not at her house or with any of her friends. Esther cannot think of where she would be. Later, the doctor stands in the door and waits for Esther to wake. She tells Esther that they found Joan. She had hanged herself from a tree near a frozen pond off the hospital grounds.

Topic Tracking: Sexuality 10
Topic Tracking: Confusion 12

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