Chapter 7 Notes from The Bell Jar

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The Bell Jar Chapter 7

Constantin is too short, but he is tan and has good teeth. Soon they are making fun of Mrs. Willard together. As they are outside in the sun, he takes Esther's hand and she is happy. She thinks that she has not been happy since before her father died. They meet another Russian simultaneous interpreter who is a woman. Esther idealizes the large Slavic woman and her ability to speak multiple languages. She dwells on all the things she cannot do: dancing, cooking, shorthand, singing, speaking another language. She decides that she never wants to work for a man. The inadequacy of men overwhelms her. She thinks of herself as a branch on the fig tree, watching her future lives fall away in the form of figs; she is starving because she does not know which one to eat.

They leave the Slavic woman and go to a restaurant. She feels so much better after she eats that she decides to let Constantin seduce her. As she makes this decision, she thinks of her previous, thwarted attempts to lose her virginity.

She had decided to sleep with someone after she learned about Buddy's waitress. She met a boy named Eric and talked with him about sex at a coffeehouse. He had gone to a whorehouse in high school. At his private school it was like a right of passage:

"She was a fat middle-aged woman with dyed red hair and suspiciously thick lips and rat-colored skin and she wouldn't even turn off the light, so he'd had her under a fly-spotted twenty-five-watt bulb, and it was nothing like it was cracked up to be. It was boring as going to the toilet." Chapter 7, pg. 64

Esther had tried to convince him that sex would be better with someone he cared about but he wouldn't listen to her. She wanted to have sex with him but it didn't work out. The more she thinks about having sex with Constantin the more she thinks it a good idea. Her mother had sent her an article by a woman lawyer praising the practical value of chastity. The article said that chastity was the only option for a discerning woman until she was married. It was very centered around the desires of men, despite being written by a woman. For Esther, the female world is divided into two sections: virgins and not virgins.

She goes to Constantin's apartment, but is disappointed because he seems to show no interest in her. After a while, she gets tired and lays down on his bed. He lays down next to her and they both fall asleep. She thinks he is beautiful and wishes that she were better looking so that he would not be able to resist her. She is upset because she doesn't think that she is able to get a man to fall in love with her. She wakes up later; it is three in the morning according to Constantin's watch. She thinks about being Constantin's wife and realizes that it would be disappointing. She knows that Buddy's mother gave up her life to act as wife to her husband and mother to Buddy. Her own father had expected the same sort of dedication from her mother. Buddy had told her that after she had children she wouldn't want to write poetry any more. "So I began to think maybe it was true that when you were married and had children it was like being brainwashed, and afterward you went about as numb as a slave in a totalitarian state." Chapter 7, pg. 67. Constantin wakes and drives her home. Lying in her bed, her leg hurts from the rain. She had broken it because of Buddy Willard.

Topic Tracking: Maternal Relationships 4
Topic Tracking: Sexuality 4

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