Free Study Guide for The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath BookNotes|
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When Esther got to Ladiesí Day, she had been taken in a cab along with Betsy and Emily Ann Offenback to a movie, "a football romance" in Technicolor. The plot parcels out a happy future for the nice woman and an future of loneliness for the sexy woman. At some point in the movie, she begins to feel sick. Betsy is also feeling sick, so the two leave together. In the cab ride on the way back, they both vomit over and over. When they get to their floor, all the bathrooms are full of women vomiting. She faints and when she regains consciousness, she hears the hotel nurse talking to a doctor about her. All the eleven women who had attended the banquet are suffering from food poisoning.
The next time she is aware of her surroundings, Doreen is giving her a cup of soup. After drinking the soup, she feels "purged and holy and ready for a new life." Ladiesí Day had done tests on all the food served at the banquet and found the crab meat had ptomaine in it. They had sent gifts for the eleven women. Esther, feeling "so pure as a result" of the illness, is eager to see the present. It is a copy of The Thirty Best Short Stories of the Year.
As in chapter two, Plath provides another image of cleansing here. The first is a bath, a baptism into pureness. This is a purgation which leaves Esther feeling holy and ready for a new life. The symbols are provided in a fairly heavy-handed way, with the gloss (interpretation) provided in both cases. This purgation is followed by a sign--the book of short stories. Not surprisingly, short story writing will be Estherís next focus. The poisoning is also symbolic of the poisoned gift of the prize to go to New York. Itís supposed to be good for Esther in launching her career. Instead, it contributes to her breakdown.
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. 09 May 2017