The Bell Jar - Chapter 9 and Chapter 10 Summary & Analysis

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This section contains 1,019 words
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Chapter 9

Esther makes small talk with Hilda, one of the girls at the hotel. She asks Hilda isn’t it awful about the Rosenburgs. They were to be electrocuted that night. Hilda believes they deserve to die.

The girls are having their pictures taken for the magazine. The idea is to be pictured with something that says what you want to do with your life. Esther does not know what to say. Jay Cee says she wants to be everything. Esther says she wants to be a poet. Sitting for the picture, Esther begins to cry. Once she starts she cannot stop. She is left alone in the room for privacy.

Jay Cee comes back with an armload of manuscripts for Esther to read. Esther thinks of how nice it would be if one day her own manuscript made its way across Jay Cee’s desk. She has applied for a summer school course with a famous writer. She has sent a manuscript to him. She is waiting to see if she is good enough to be admitted into his class. She is sure she will get a letter of acceptance.

Doreen invites Esther on a double date with her and Lenny. The guy for Esther is from Peru. Esther is sitting among all her clothes that she has to pack for the next day's departure. Esther has found it hard to do anything in the last few days. She eventually agrees to go with Doreen.

Esther date is Marco. He has a diamond tiepin that he gives to Esther. He says that perhaps during the evening he will perform a small service worthy of a diamond and roughly handles her arm. Esther feels he is a woman-hater. He makes her dance and then leads her out into the garden. Esther asks him whom he loves, and he tells her that he loves his first cousin who is going to be a nun.

Marco attempts to assault Esther. She contemplates just lying there and letting him take her virginity, but he calls her a slut and she fights him. She gets away from him throwing his diamond into the grass. He gets on his hands and knees to find it. She gets a ride with some people leaving the dance. Esther goes back to the hotel and takes her bundle of clothes to the hotel roof. One by one she lets the wind take each article of clothing off the roof and into downtown New York.

Chapter 10

Betsy has traded Esther a skirt and blouse to wear home because she has thrown all of her clothes off the roof. She still has the diagonal streaks of blood on her cheeks that Marco place there the night before. People look at her strangely. Doreen gives her two dozen avocado pears as a parting present.

Her mother picks her up at the station. She gets into the back of the car so her mother cannot stare at her. Her mother tells her that she did not make it into the writing program. Esther does not know what she will do with her summer.

Esther keeps her eyes on the neighbors. Dodo Conway is a Catholic with six children. Esther finds her fascinating; but, at the same time, she is repulsed. She does not want children of her own and finds Dodo’s children excessive. Esther calls her friend at college and lets her know that she won’t be coming for the summer. They should give away her room at the apartment they were to share with their friends.

Esther sets up a table outside in the breezeway and begins to write a novel. She does not get dressed and wears her nightgown all day. She quickly tires of writing because she feels she has no experiences to relate onto paper. Her mother tries to teach her shorthand so that she will have a useable skill. Esther cannot see herself in such a position and feigns a headache and goes to bed. Esther hops from one idea to another to spend her summer, but she ends up doing nothing. She cannot sleep or eat. She gets sleeping pills from her family doctor, her aunt’s sister-in-law. She suggests that Esther see Dr. Gordon, a psychiatrist.


Esther is concerned that she does not know what she wants to do with the rest of her life. She is excited about the prospect of being part of a writing course taught by a famous writer. She believes that she will be part of the class and daydreams about sending her manuscripts into Jay Cee. She admires Jay Cee, and she would like to think that Jay Cee would praise her work.

Esther is obsessed with sex. She is willing to have sex with Marco until he calls her a slut. Then, she fights to defend her virginity. He believes all women are sluts and does not respect them. The assault has a profound effect on Esther. She throws away all of her clothes that she has gotten in New York and does not wash away the blood that Marco smeared on her face, but wears it as a badge of honor.

Esther spirals into depression when she is not accepted into the writing program. She does not know what she will do with her life. This leads her to not sleep and eat. Her doctor becomes concerned for her and recommends that she see a psychiatrist.

Discussion Question 1

Why does Esther call Marco a woman-hater? What does he do to make her think this? Why does she change her mind in letting Marco have sex with her to fighting him?

Discussion Question 2

Why does Esther throw her clothes off the hotel roof? Why does she want to end her trip in New York on such a note?

Discussion Question 3

Why does Esther give up on writing a novel? Why does she have trouble sleeping?


Bilious, retracted, frieze, pristine, pseudonym, extricated, conglomerate, immaculate, facet, invulnerable, infinitesimal, precarious, immobile, interstices, inordinate, paraphenalia, excessive, corrasable, awry, intuitive.

This section contains 1,019 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
The Bell Jar from BookRags. (c)2017 BookRags, Inc. All rights reserved.
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