The Bell Jar

Sylvia Plath
Summary

Chapters 9–10

Summary Chapters 9–10

Esther begins to disregard people’s opinions of her. She wears Marco’s blood on the train home to the suburbs as if it is a medal of honor, and cannot understand why people look at her with curiosity. At home, she does not bother to get dressed, and she has trouble sleeping. She starts to feel detached from herself, as evidenced by the fact that she listens with surprise to her own voice telling Jody she will not come to Cambridge. Her uncertainty about her future, understandably intensified after her rejection from the writing class, begins to pummel her. She frantically runs through a list of possible paths, and rejects all of them.

Plath suggests that Esther’s troubles originate in her mind, but are exacerbated by the circumstances surrounding her. Marco attempts to rape Esther, a horror she deals with on her own. She bears her pain and shock silently, which surely intensifies these feelings. She must return from New York City, a city that Esther may have found unpleasant, but that forced her to keep busy and keep the company of girls her age. She must now live in isolation in the suburbs. She does not get into her writing course, a staggering blow because writing and prizes and academic laurels have come to seem like the sole achievements defining Esther’s character. Events and brain chemistry conspire to loosen Esther’s grasp on sanity.