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Esther will leave the hospital in one week and go
to college. It is the heart of winter. She knows she will be learning the landscape
all over again. She writes, "In one way it seemed a small thing, starting,
after a six months’ lapse, where I had so vehemently left off." She knows
everyone will know her story. Doctor Nolan has warned her that many people will
treat her as if she were "a leper with a warning bell." Esther had thought
of her mother. Esther thinks of her mother’s reproachful face at her last visit
to the asylum since Esther’s twentieth birthday. "A daughter in an asylum!
I had done that to her. Still, she had obviously decided to forgive me."
Her mother had told her they would take up where they left off and act as if the
last six months were all a bad dream. Esther thinks, "To the person in the
bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is a bad dream."
She remembers all of it and thinks of all her memories as a part of her landscape
A nurse announces a man to see her. It’s Buddy Willard. She feels
nothing but "great amiable boredom." He has borrowed his mother’s car
and got it stuck in a drift of snow outside. Esther goes out to help him with
it. He looks at her with a mixture of wariness and curiosity. She tells him she’s
fine. She feels a "profound thrill" to see the snow covering everything.
She feels the same about this vision as she feels about the sight of a flooded
landscape, "as if the usual order of the world had shifted slightly, and
entered a new phase." Esther is grateful that his car got stuck since it
prevents Buddy from asking her questions. When he does, she notices he has lost
his earlier annoying self-confidence and now has the "face of a man who often
does not get what he wants." He asks her if she thinks something in him drives
women crazy. Esther laughs at the question, but then remembers she asked Doctor
Nolan the same question about Joan. Doctor Nolan, of course, reassured her that
she had nothing to do with Joan’s suicide. She assures Buddy, in turn, that he
had nothing to do with either her or Joan.
On a nurse-supervised walk
on the grounds, Esther talks to Valerie about leaving. Then she leaves her noticing
her "calm, snow maiden face behind which so little, bad or good, could happen."
Esther wonders if someday in college or Europe or somewhere else, "the bell
jar, with its stifling distortions, would descend again." Buddy had wondered
aloud who she would marry now that she’s been in the asylum. Esther wonders who
would marry her.
Esther calls Irwin about the hospital bill for her vaginal
hemorrhage after their sex. He has been avoiding the bill and the hospital has
sent it to her. He says, "all right, all right" and agrees to pay it.
He wants to know when he’ll see her. She says never and hangs up the phone. She
feels like she has accomplished a lot in calling him. She realizes he has no way
of getting in touch with her. She feels "perfectly free."
goes to Joan’s funeral. Her parents had invited Esther. Esther sees other women
from her college. As she stands at the grave site, she "took a deep breath
and listened to the old brag of my heart: I am, I am, I am."
doctors of her hospital discuss her case during their weekly board meeting. Esther
sits in the waiting room anxious. She examines her clothes and sees they’re well-arranged.
She wears a red woolen suit, "flamboyant as her plans." She wears "something
old, something new . . ." Finally, Doctor Nolan calls her. She steps into
The novel ends as Esther enters
a new part of her life. The reader feels sure that she will be released from the
hospital and will do well at school, more comfortable with her relation to the
world than she ever was before.
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