The Bell Jar
Sylvia Plath
Contributed by Bobbie Heil
Chapter 2

Once she gets to Lenny’s place, Esther is glad she decided to come; his place has the craziest décor she’s ever seen: it looked just like the inside of a ranch, with antlers and stuffed animals on the walls. He goes off to put some music on, and Doreen implores Esther to stick around, because she’s not sure what his intentions are.

When Lenny returns, he offers to find another guy for Esther, so she won’t be alone; she refuses. Lenny and Doreen start dancing. Esther begins to get depressed as Lenny and Doreen get more into each other; she dozing off when she’s woken with a start by Lenny’s yell. Doreen is half-naked and she’s wrestling with Lenny. Esther decides to leave. When she gets down to the street, she pulls out her street map and decides to walk the forty-eight blocks back to the hotel.

She arrives back at the hotel and gets into the elevator. She suddenly notices "a big, smudgy-eyed Chinese woman staring idiotically into my face." Just as suddenly, she realized it’s her own reflection. She lets herself into her room, lays down in bed and looks out the window. The silence depresses her; but she realizes it is her own silence, as the things she sess down on the street are making noise, she just couldn’t hear them. She stares at the phone, trying to think of someone she wants to talk to. She remembers Buddy Willard’s mother had told Esther she’d give her number to a simultaneous interpreter she knew at the UN. Esther finds this funny, because clearly Mrs. Willard just wanted Esther to marry her son who was taking the cure for TB somewhere in upstate New York. Mrs. Willard had even arranged for Esther to work at the sanatorium where Buddy was that summer, and neither Buddy nor his mother understood why she had chosen to come to New York.

She decides instead to take a bath: "There must be quite a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them." She muses how she remembers every detail of every bathtub she’s ever been in. She feels, in her hot bath, that she has been newly baptized. All the things which had bothered her that day, including Doreen, dissolve away. When she finally gets out of the bath she "felt as pure and sweet as a new baby."

She doesn’t know how long she’s been asleep when she’s woken by a loud knocking on the door. One voice keeps saying, "Elly, Elly" while the other says, "Miss Greenwood;" as if she had a split personality. When she opens the door, it’s the night maid with a very drunk Doreen; the maid hands her off to Esther and walks away. Esther, not really wanting to take care of her, hesitates in the doorway. At that moment, Doreen throws up on the hallway carpet and passes out. Esther leaves Doreen in the hallway. She feels she’s rejected Doreen and this is the right thing to do: "deep down, I would be loyal to Betsy and her innocent friends. It was Betsy I resembled at heart." When she wakes up in the morning, Doreen is gone; all that’s left is the stain on the carpet.

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