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Title: The Bell Jar. Author: Epub, epub, If you cannot open ppti.info file on your mobile device, please ppti.info with an appropriate eReader. Mobi/ . Title: The Bell Jar Author: Plath, Sylvia () Date of first publication: . Edition used as base for this ebook: London: Faber and. Support epubBooks by making a small PayPal donation purchase. psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic.


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The Bell Jar is the only novel written by American poet Sylvia Plath. It is an intensely realistic and emotional record of a successful and talented young woman's. by pressing the button below! Report copyright / DMCA form · DOWNLOAD EPUB Bell Jar, The. Read more Plath's The Bell Jar (Cliffs Notes) · Read more. Downlaod The Bell Jar (Sylvia Plath) Free Online. DOWNLOAD FREE The Bell Jar Get ebook Epub MOBI Epub|Ebook|Audiobook|PDF|DOC.

I hate technicolour. Everybody in a technicolour movie seems to feel obliged to wear a lurid new costume in each new scene and to stand around like a clothes-horse with a lot of very green trees or very yellow wheat or very blue ocean rolling away for miles and miles in every direction.

Most of the action in this picture took place in the football stands, with the two girls waving and cheering in smart suits with orange chrysanthemums the size of cabbages on their lapels, or in a ballroom, where the girls swooped across the floor with their dates, in dresses like something out of Gone With the Wind , and then sneaked off into the powder-room to say nasty intense things to each other.

Finally I could see the nice girl was going to end up with the nice football hero and the sexy girl was going to end up with nobody, because the man named Gil had only wanted a mistress and not a wife all along and was now packing off to Europe on a single ticket.

At about this point I began to feel peculiar. I looked round me at all the rows of rapt little heads with the same silver glow on them at the front and the same black shadow on them at the back, and they looked like nothing more or less than a lot of stupid moon-brains. I felt in terrible danger of puking. I didn't know whether it was the awful movie giving me a stomach-ache or all that caviar I had eaten.

Betsy was staring at the screen with deadly concentration. We slipped out of our seats and said Excuse me Excuse me Excuse me down the length of our row, while the people grumbled and hissed and shifted their rain boots and umbrellas to let us pass, and I stepped on as many feet as I could because it took my mind off this enormous desire to puke that was ballooning up in front of me so fast I couldn't see round it.

Betsy looked a fright. The bloom was gone from her cheeks and her drained face floated in front of me, green and sweating. We fell into one of those yellow checkered cabs that are always waiting at the kerb when you are trying to decide whether or not you want a taxi, and by the time we reached the hotel I had puked once and Betsy had puked twice.

The cab driver took the corners with such momentum that we were thrown together first on one side of the back seat and then on the other. Each time one of us felt sick, she would lean over quietly as if she had dropped something and was picking it up off the floor, and the other one would hum a little and pretend to be looking out the window.

But we didn't say anything, and I guess he figured we were almost at the hotel so he didn't make us get out until we pulled up in front of the main entrance. We didn't dare wait to add up the fare. We stuffed a pile of silver into the cabby's hand and dropped a couple of kleenexes to cover the mess on the floor, and ran in through the lobby and on to the empty elevator. Luckily for us, it was a quiet time of day.

Betsy was sick again in the elevator and I held her head, and then I was sick and she held mine. Usually after a good puke you feel better right away. We hugged each other and then said good-bye and went off to opposite ends of the hall to lie down in our own rooms. There is nothing like puking with somebody to make you into old friends.

But the minute I'd shut the door behind me and undressed and dragged myself on to the bed, I felt worse than ever. I felt I just had to go to the toilet. I struggled into my white bathrobe with the blue cornflowers on it and staggered down to the bathroom. Betsy was already there. I could hear her groaning behind the door, so I hurried on around the corner to the bathroom in the next wing. I thought I would die, it was so far.

I sat on the toilet and leaned my head over the edge of the washbowl and I thought I was losing my guts and my dinner both. The sickness rolled through me in great waves.

After each wave it would fade away and leave me limp as a wet leaf and shivering all over and then I would feel it rising up in me again, and the glittering white torture-chamber tiles under my feet and over my head and on all four sides closed in and squeezed me to pieces. I don't know how long I kept at it. I let the cold water in the bowl go on running loudly with the stopper out, so anybody who came by would think I was washing my clothes, and then when I felt reasonably safe I stretched out on the floor and lay quite still.

It didn't seem to be summer any more. I could feel the winter shaking my bones and banging my teeth together, and the big white hotel towel I had dragged down with me lay under my head numb as a snowdrift. I thought it very bad manners for anybody to pound on a bathroom door the way some person was pounding.

They could just go around the corner and find another bathroom the way I had done and leave me in peace. But the person kept banging and pleading with me to let them in and I thought I dimly recognized the voice.

It sounded a bit like Emily Ann Offenbach. I pulled myself together and slowly rose and flushed the toilet for the tenth time and slopped the bowl clean and rolled up the towel so the vomit stains didn't show very clearly and unlocked the door and stepped out into the hall. I knew it would be fatal if I looked at Emily Ann or anybody else so I fixed my eyes glassily on a window that swam at the end of the hall and put one foot in front of the other.

It was a stout shoe of cracked black leather and quite old, with tiny air holes in a scalloped pattern over the toe and a dull polish, and it was pointed at me. It seemed to be placed on a hard green surface that was hurting my right cheekbone. I kept very still, waiting for a clue that would give me some notion of what to do. A little to the left of the shoe I saw a vague heap of blue cornflowers on a white ground and this made me want to cry. It was the sleeve of my own bathrobe I was looking at, and my left hand lay pale as a cod at the end of it.

The voice came from a cool, rational region far above my head. For a minute I didn't think there was anything strange about it, and then I thought it was strange. It was a man's voice, and no men were allowed to be in our hotel at any time of the night or day.

I listened with interest. The floor seemed wonderfully solid. It was comforting to know I had fallen and could fall no farther. I figured she must belong to the black shoe. I heard a hollow boomp boomp in my right ear that grew fainter and fainter.

Then a door opened in the distance, and there were voices and groans, and the door shut again. Two hands slid under my armpits and the woman's voice said, 'Come, come, lovey, we'll make it yet,' and I felt myself being half lifted, and slowly the doors began to move by, one by one, until we came to an open door and went in.

The sheet on my bed was folded back, and the woman helped me he down and covered me up to the chin and rested for a minute in the bedside armchair, fanning herself with one plump, pink hand. She wore gilt-rimmed spectacles and a white nurse's cap. I never seen anythin' like it. Sick here, sick there, whatever have you young ladies been stuffin' yourselves with?

The room hovered around me with great gentleness, as if the chairs and the tables and the walls were withholding their weight out of sympathy for my sudden frailty. And the door took her place like a sheet of blank paper, and then a larger sheet of paper took the place of the door, and I drifted toward it and smiled myself to sleep.

A thick white china cup was lowered under my nose. In the wan light that might have been evening and might have been dawn I contemplated the clear amber liquid. Pads of butter floated on the surface and a faint chickeny aroma fumed up to my nostrils. I raised my eyes then, and saw Doreen's head silhouetted against the paling window, her blonde hair lit at the tips from behind like a halo of gold.

Her face was in shadow, so I couldn't make out her expression, but I felt a sort of expert tenderness flowing from the ends of her fingers.

She might have been Betsy or my mother or a fern-scented nurse. I bent my head and took a sip of the broth. I thought my mouth must be made of sand. I took another sip and then another and another until the cup was empty. Doreen set the cup on the window-sill and lowered herself into the armchair. I noticed that she made no move to take out a cigarette, and as she was a chain-smoker this surprised me. It was the crabmeat. They did tests on it and it was chock-full of ptomaine. I had a vision of the celestially white kitchens on Ladies' Day stretching into infinity.

I saw avocado pear after avocado pear being stuffed with crabmeat and mayonnaise and photographed under brilliant lights. I saw the delicate, pink-mottled claw-meat poking seductively through its blanket of mayonnaise and the bland yellow pear cup with its rim of alligator-green cradling the whole mess. As soon as you all started keeling over like ninepins somebody called into the office and the office called across to Ladies' Day and they did tests on everything left over from the big lunch.

They can't afford to have the lot of you running around saying you got poisoned at Ladies' Day.

You could sue them for every penny they own if you just knew some smart law man. Nobody's opened the box yet, they're all out flat. I'm supposed to be carting soup into everybody, seeing as I'm the only one on my feet, but I brought you yours first. Then I remembered and said, 'I've a present for you as well. Doreen went out into the hall. I could hear her rustling around for a minute and then the sound of paper tearing.

Finally she came back carrying a thick book with a glossy cover and people's names printed all over it.

I suppose they thought it'd give you something to read while you were sick. I fished in my pocket-book and handed Doreen the mirror with her name and the daisies on it. Doreen looked at me and I looked at her and we both burst out laughing. Slowly I swam up from the bottom of a black sleep.

I already had a telegram from Jay Cee stuck in my mirror, telling me not to bother to come into work but to rest for a day and get completely well, and how sorry she was about the bad crabmeat, so I couldn't imagine who would be calling. I reached out and hitched the receiver on to my pillow so the mouthpiece rested on my collarbone and the earpiece lay on my shoulder.

A man's voice said, 'Is that Miss Esther Greenwood? I couldn't make out the last name, but it was full of S's and K's. I didn't know any Constantin, but I hadn't the heart to say so.

I collected men with interesting names. I already knew a Socrates. He was tall and ugly and intellectual and the son of some big Greek movie producer in Hollywood, but also a Catholic, which ruined it for both of us. I detected the vocabulary of Mrs Willard and my heart sank. Mrs Willard always invited you for a bite to eat.

I remembered that this man had been a guest at Mrs Willard's house when he first came to America—Mrs Willard had one of these arrangements where you open your house to foreigners and then when you go abroad they open their houses to you. I now saw quite clearly that Mrs Willard had simply traded her open house in Russia for my bite to eat in New York.

The Bell Jar

For a moment I thought his tone was laden with special meaning, and then I figured that probably some of the girls at the Amazon were secretaries at the UN and maybe he had taken one of them out at one time.

I let him hang up first, and then I hung up and lay back in the pillows, feeling grim. There I went again, building up a glamorous picture of a man who would love me passionately the minute he met me, and all out of a few prosy nothings.

A duty tour of the UN and a post-UN sandwich! Probably Mrs Willard's simultaneous interpreter would be short and ugly and I would come to look down on him in the end the way I looked down on Buddy Willard. This thought gave me a certain satisfaction. Because I did look down on Buddy Willard, and although everybody still thought I would marry him when he came out of the TB place, I knew I would never marry him if he were the last man on earth.

Of course, I didn't know he was a hypocrite at first. I thought he was the most wonderful boy I'd ever seen. I'd adored him from a distance for five years before he even looked at me, and then there was a beautiful time when I still adored him and he started looking at me, and then just as he was looking at me more and more I discovered quite by accident what an awful hypocrite he was, and now he wanted me to marry him and I hated his guts.

The worst part of it was I couldn't come straight out and tell him what I thought of him, because he caught TB before I could do that, and now I had to humour him along till he got well again and could take the unvarnished truth.

I decided not to go down to the cafeteria for breakfast. It would only mean getting dressed, and what was the point of getting dressed if you were staying in bed for the morning? I could have called down and asked for a breakfast tray in my room, I guess, but then I would have to tip the person who brought it up and I never knew how much to tip. I'd had some very unsettling experiences trying to tip people in New York.

When I first arrived at the Amazon a dwarfish, bald man in a bellhop's uniform carried my suitcase up in the elevator and unlocked my room for me. Of course I rushed immediately to the window and looked out to see what the view was. After a while I was aware of this bellhop turning on the hot and cold taps in my washbowl and saying 'This is the hot and this is the cold' and switching on the radio and telling me the names of all the New York stations and I began to get uneasy, so I kept my back to him and said firmly, 'Thank you for bringing up my suitcase.

Later, when I told Doreen about his curious behaviour, she said, 'You ninny, he wanted his tip. I asked how much I should have given and she said a quarter at least and thirty-five cents if the suitcase was too heavy. Now I could have carried that suitcase to my room perfectly well by myself, only the bellhop seemed so eager to do it that I let him. I thought that sort of service came along with what you paid for your hotel room.

I hate handing over money to people for doing what I could just as easily do myself, it makes me nervous. Doreen said ten per cent was what you should tip a person, but I somehow never had the right change and I'd have felt awfully silly giving somebody half a dollar and saying, 'Fifteen cents of this is a tip for you, please give me thirty-five cents back. The first time I took a taxi in New York I tipped the driver ten cents. The fare was a dollar, so I thought ten cents was exactly right and gave the driver my dime with a little flourish and a smile.

But he only held it in the palm of his hand and stared and stared at it, and when I stepped out of the cab, hoping I had not handed him a Canadian dime by mistake, he started yelling, 'Lady I gotta live like you and everybody else,' in a loud voice which scared me so much I broke into a run. Luckily he was stopped at a traffic light or I think he would have driven along beside me yelling in that embarrassing way.

When I asked Doreen about this she said the tipping percentage might well have risen from ten to fifteen per cent since she was last in New York. Either that, or that particular cab-driver was an out and out louse.

When I opened it a card fell out. The front of the card showed a poodle in a flowered bedjacket sitting in a poodle basket with a sad face, and the inside of the card showed the poodle lying down in the basket with a little smile, sound asleep under an embroidered sampler that said, 'You'll get well best with lots and lots of rest'.

At the bottom of the card somebody had written, 'Get well quick! This fig-tree grew on a green lawn between the house of a Jewish man and a convent, and the Jewish man and a beautiful dark nun kept meeting at the tree to pick the ripe figs, until one day they saw an egg hatching in a bird's nest on a branch of the tree, and as they watched the little bird peck its way out of the egg, they touched the backs of their hands together, and then the nun didn't come out to pick figs with the Jewish man any more but a mean-faced Catholic kitchen-maid came to pick them instead and counted up the figs the man picked after they were both through to be sure he hadn't picked any more than she had, and the man was furious.

I thought it was a lovely story, especially the part about the fig-tree in winter under the snow and then the fig-tree in spring with all the green fruit. I felt sorry when I came to the last page. I wanted to crawl in between those black lines of print the way you crawl through a fence, and go to sleep under that beautiful big green fig-tree.

It seemed to me Buddy Willard and I were like that Jewish man and that nun, although of course we weren't Jewish or Catholic but Unitarian. We had met together under our own imaginary fig-tree, and what we had seen wasn't a bird coming out of an egg but a baby coming out of a woman, and then something awful happened and we went our separate ways. As I lay there in my white hotel bed feeling lonely and weak, I thought of Buddy Willard lying even lonelier and weaker than I was up in that sanatorium in the Adirondacks, and I felt like a heel of the worst sort.

In his letters Buddy kept telling me how he was reading poems by a poet who was also a doctor and how he'd found out about some famous dead Russian short story writer who had been a doctor too, so maybe doctors and writers could get along fine after all.

Now this was a very different tune from what Buddy Willard had been singing all the two years we were getting to know each other. I remember the day he smiled at me and said, 'Do you know what a poem is, Esther? It was only in the middle of New York a whole year later that I finally thought of an answer to that remark. I spent a lot of time having imaginary conversations with Buddy Willard.

He was a couple of years older than I was and very scientific, so he could always prove things. When I was with him I had to work to keep my head above water. These conversations I had in my mind usually repeated the beginnings of conversations I'd really had with Buddy, only they finished with me answering him back quite sharply, instead of just sitting around and saying 'I guess so'.

Then just as he was smiling and starting to look proud, I would say, 'So are the cadavers you cut up. So are the people you think you're curing. They're dust as dust as dust. I reckon a good poem lasts a whole lot longer than a hundred of those people put together. And of course Buddy wouldn't have any answer to that, because what I said was true.

People were made of nothing so much as dust, and I couldn't see that doctoring all that dust was a bit better than writing poems people would remember and repeat to themselves when they were unhappy or sick and couldn't sleep.

My trouble was I took everything Buddy Willard told me as the honest-to-God truth. I remember the first night he kissed me. It was after the Yale Junior Prom.

He popped into my house out of the blue one Christmas vacation, wearing a thick white turtleneck sweater and looking so handsome I could hardly stop staring and said, 'I might drop over to see you at college some day, all right? I was flabbergasted. I only saw Buddy at church on Sundays when we were both home from college, and then at a distance, and I couldn't figure what had put it into his head to run over and see me—he had run the two miles between our houses for cross-country practice, he said.

Of course, our mothers were good friends. They had gone to school together and then both married their professors and settled down in the same town, but Buddy was always off on a scholarship at prep school in the fall or earning money by fighting blister rust in Montana in the summer, so our mothers being old school chums really didn't matter a bit. After this sudden visit I didn't hear a word from Buddy until one fine Saturday morning in early March.

I was up in my room at college, studying about Peter the Hermit and Walter the Penniless for my history exam on the crusades the coming Monday when the hall phone rang. Usually people are supposed to take turns answering the hall phone, but as I was the only freshman on a floor with all seniors they made me answer it most of the time.

I waited a minute to see if anybody would beat me to it. Then I figured everybody was probably out playing squash or away on week-ends, so I answered it myself. I was surprised to hear this, because of all the blind dates I'd had that year not one called me up again for a second date.

I just didn't have any luck. I hated coming downstairs sweaty-handed and curious every Saturday night and having some senior introduce me to her aunt's best friend's son and finding some pale, mushroomy fellow with protruding ears or buck teeth or a bad leg. I didn't think I deserved it. After all, I wasn't crippled in any way, I just studied too hard, I didn't know when to stop. Well, I combed my hair and put on some more lipstick and took my history book—so I could say I was on my way to the library if it turned out to be somebody awful—and went down, and there was Buddy Willard leaning against the mail table in a khaki zipper jacket and blue dungarees and frayed grey sneakers and grinning up at me.

I thought it odd he should come all the way up from Yale even hitch-hiking, as he did, to save money, just to say hello.

I wanted to go out on the porch because the girl on watch was a nosey senior and eyeing me curiously. She obviously thought Buddy had made a big mistake. We sat side by side in two wicker rocking-chairs. The sunlight was clean and windless and almost hot. Joan Gilling came from our home town and went to our church and was a year ahead of me at college. She was a big wheel—president of her class and a physics major and the college hockey champion.

She always made me feel squirmy with her starey pebble-coloured eyes and her gleaming tombstone teeth and her breathy voice. She was big as a horse, too. I began to think Buddy had pretty poor taste. She never cares whether you spend any money on her or not and she enjoys doing things out-of-doors.

The last time she came down to Yale for house week-end we went on a bicycle trip to East Rock and she's the only girl I haven't had to push up hills. Joan's all right. I went cold with envy. I had never been to Yale, and Yale was the place all the seniors in my house liked to go best on week-ends.

I decided to expect nothing from Buddy Willard. If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed. I guess Buddy never read much history, because his mouth stiffened. He swung up from the wicker rocking-chair and gave it a sharp little unnecessary push. Then he dropped a pale blue envelope with a Yale crest into my lap.

There's a question in it you can answer by mail. I don't feel like asking you about it right now. After Buddy had gone I opened the letter. It was a letter inviting me to the Yale Junior Prom. I was so surprised I let out a couple of yips and ran into the house shouting, 'I'm going I'm going I'm going. I found myself hugging the senior on watch. When she heard I was going to the Yale Junior Prom she treated me with amazement and respect.

Oddly enough, things changed in the house after that. The seniors on my floor started speaking to me and every now and then one of them would answer the phone quite spontaneously and nobody made any more nasty loud remarks outside my door about people wasting their golden college days with their noses stuck in a book. We danced about a mile apart the whole time, until during 'Auld Lang Syne' he suddenly rested his chin on the top of my head as if he were very tired.

Then in the cold, black, three o'clock wind we walked very slowly the five miles back to the house where I was sleeping in the living-room on a couch that was too short because it only cost fifty cents a night instead of two dollars like most of the other places with proper beds.

I had imagined Buddy would fall in love with me that week-end and that I wouldn't have to worry about what I was doing on any more Saturday nights the rest of the year. Just as we approached the house where I was staying Buddy said, 'Let's go up to the chemistry lab.

And sure enough, there was a sort of hilly place behind the chemistry lab from which you could see the lights of a couple of the houses in New Haven. I stood pretending to admire them while Buddy got a good footing on the rough soil.

While he kissed me I kept my eyes open and tried to memorize the spacing of the house lights so I would never forget them. It had been a dry, uninspiring little kiss, and I remember thinking it was too bad both our mouths were so chapped from walking five miles in that cold wind. Buddy kissed me again in front of the house steps, and the next fall, when his scholarship to Medical School came through, I went there to see him instead of to Yale and it was there I found out how he had fooled me all those years and what a hypocrite he was.

I had kept begging Buddy to show me some really interesting hospital sights, so one Friday I cut all my classes and came down for a long week-end and he gave me the works. I started out by dressing in a white coat and sitting on a tall stool in a room with four cadavers, while Buddy and his friends cut them up. These cadavers were so unhuman-looking they didn't bother me a bit.

They had stiff, leathery, purple-black skin and they smelt like old pickle jars. After that, Buddy took me out into a hall where they had some big glass bottles full of babies that had died before they were born. The baby in the first bottle had a large white head bent over a tiny curled-up body the size of a frog.

The baby in the next bottle was bigger and the baby next to that one was bigger still and the baby in the last bottle was the size of a normal baby and he seemed to be looking at me and smiling a little piggy smile. I was quite proud of the calm way I stared at all these gruesome things. The only time I jumped was when I leaned my elbow on Buddy's cadaver's stomach to watch him dissect a lung.

After a minute or two I felt this burning sensation in my elbow and it occurred to me the cadaver might just be half alive since it was still warm, so I leapt off my stool with a small exclamation.

Then Buddy explained the burning was only from the pickling fluid, and I sat back in my old position. In the hour before lunch Buddy took me to a lecture on sickle cell anaemia and some other depressing diseases, where they wheeled sick people out on to the platform and asked them questions and then wheeled them off and showed coloured slides. One slide I remember showed a beautiful laughing girl with a black mole on her cheek. First we found a linen closet in the hospital corridor where Buddy took out a white mask for me to wear and some gauze.

A tall fat medical student, big as Sidney Greenstreet, lounged nearby, watching Buddy wind the gauze round and round my head until my hair was completely covered and only my eyes peered out over the white mask. The medical student gave an unpleasant little snicker. I was so busy thinking how very fat he was and how unfortunate it must be for a man and especially a young man to be fat, because what woman could stand leaning over that big stomach to kiss him, that I didn't immediately realize what this student had said to me was an insult.

By the time I figured he must consider himself quite a fine fellow and had thought up a cutting remark about how only a mother loves a fat man, he was gone. Buddy was examining a queer wooden plaque on the wall with a row of holes in it, starting from a hole about the size of a silver dollar and ending with one the size of a dinner-plate. Buddy told me Will was a third-year man and had to deliver eight babies before he could graduate. Then we noticed a bustle at the far end of the hall and some men in lime-green coats and skull-caps and a few nurses came moving towards us in a ragged procession wheeling a trolley with a big white lump on it.

The Bell Jar

They oughtn't to let women watch. It'll be the end of the human race. I was so struck by the sight of the table where they were lifting the woman I didn't say a word. It looked like some awful torture table, with these metal stirrups sticking up in mid-air at one end and all sorts of instruments and wires and tubes I couldn't make out properly at the other. Buddy and I stood together by the window, a few feet away from the woman, where we had a perfect view. The woman's stomach stuck up so high I couldn't see her face or the upper part of her body at all.

She seemed to have nothing but an enormous spider-fat stomach and two little ugly spindly legs propped in the high stirrups, and all the time the baby was being born she never stopped making this unhuman whooing noise. Later Buddy told me the woman was on a drug that would make her forget she'd had any pain and that when she swore and groaned she really didn't know what she was doing because she was in a kind of twilight sleep.

I thought it sounded just like the sort of drug a man would invent. Here was a woman in terrible pain, obviously feeling every bit of it or she wouldn't groan like that, and she would go straight home and start another baby, because the drug would make her forget how bad the pain had been, when all the time, in some secret part of her, that long, blind, doorless and windowless corridor of pain was waiting to open up and shut her in again.

The head doctor, who was supervising Will, kept saying to the woman, 'Push down, Mrs Tomolillo, push down, that's a good girl, push down,' and finally through the split, shaven place between her legs, lurid with disinfectant, I saw a dark fuzzy thing appear.

But the baby's head stuck for some reason, and the doctor told Will he'd have to make a cut. I heard the scissors close on the woman's skin like cloth and the blood began to run down—a fierce, bright red.

Then all at once the baby seemed to pop out into Will's hands, the colour of a blue plum and floured with white stuff and streaked with blood, and Will kept saying, 'I'm going to drop it, I'm going to drop it, I'm going to drop it,' in a terrified voice. The first thing that baby did was pee in the doctor's face. I told Buddy later I didn't see how that was possible, but he said it was quite possible, though unusual, to see something like that happen.

As soon as the baby was born the people in the room divided up into two groups, the nurses tying a metal dog-tag on the baby's wrist and swabbing its eyes with cotton on the end of a stick and wrapping it up and putting it in a canvas-sided cot, while the doctor and Will started sewing up the woman's cut with a needle and a long thread. I think somebody said, 'It's a boy, Mrs Tomolillo,' but the woman didn't answer or raise her head.

I didn't feel up to asking him if there were any other ways to have babies. For some reason the most important thing to me was actually seeing the baby come out of you yourself and making sure it was yours. I thought if you had to have all that pain anyway you might just as well stay awake.

I had always imagined myself hitching up on to my elbows on the delivery table after it was all over—dead white, of course, with no make-up and from the awful ordeal, but smiling and radiant, with my hair down to my waist, and reaching out for my first little squirmy child and saying its name, whatever it was.

When we were back in Buddy's room, which reminded me of nothing so much as a monk's cell, with its bare walls and bare bed and bare floor and the desk loaded with Gray's Anatomy and other thick gruesome books, Buddy lit a candle and uncorked a bottle of Dubonnet.

Then we lay down side by side on the bed and Buddy sipped his wine while I read aloud 'somewhere I have never travelled' and other poems from a book I'd brought. Buddy said he figured there must be something in poetry if a girl like me spent all her days over it, so each time we met I read him some poetry and explained to him what I found in it. It was Buddy's idea.

He always arranged our week-ends so we'd never regret wasting our time in any way. Buddy's father was a teacher, and I think Buddy could have been a teacher as well, he was always trying to explain things to me and introduce me to new knowledge. The way he said it I knew he didn't mean a regular man or a man in general, I knew he meant a man naked.

I didn't know what to say. My mother and my grandmother had started hinting around to me a lot lately about what a fine, clean boy Buddy Willard was, coming from such a fine, clean family, and how everybody at church thought he was a model person, so kind to his parents and to older people, as well as so athletic and so handsome and so intelligent.

All I'd heard about, really, was how fine and clean Buddy was and how he was the kind of person a girl should stay fine and clean for.

So I didn't really see the harm in anything Buddy would think up to do. I stared at Buddy while he unzipped his chino pants and took them off and laid them on a chair and then took off his underpants that were made of something like nylon fishnet.

Then he just stood there in front of me and I kept on staring at him. The only thing I could think of was turkey neck and turkey gizzards and I felt very depressed.

I spent the rest of the morning reading the stories and typing out what I thought of them on the pink Interoffice Memo sheets and sending them into the office of Betsy's editor to be read by Betsy the next day. Jay Cee interrupted me now and then to tell me something practical or a bit of gossip. Jay Cee was going to lunch that noon with two famous writers, a man and a lady. The man had just sold six short stories to the New Yorker and six to Jay Cee.

This surprised me, as I didn't know magazines bought stories in lots of six, and I was staggered by the thought of the amount of money six stories would probably bring in. Jay Cee said she had to be very careful at this lunch, because the lady writer wrote stories too, but she had never had any in the New Yorker and Jay Cee had only taken one from her in five years.

Jay Cee had to flatter the more famous man at the same time as she was careful not to hurt the less famous lady. Then she slipped a suit jacket over her lilac blouse, pinned a hat of imitation lilacs on the top of her head, powdered her nose briefly and adjusted her thick spectacles.

She looked terrible, but very wise. As she left the office, she patted my shoulder with one lilac-gloved hand. I tried to imagine what it would be like if I were Ee Gee, the famous editor, in an office full of potted rubber plants and African violets my secretary had to water each morning. I wished I had a mother like Jay Cee.

Then I'd know what to do. My own mother wasn't much help. My mother had taught shorthand and typing to support us ever since my father died, and secretly she hated it and hated him for dying and leaving no money because he didn't trust life insurance salesmen. She was always on to me to learn shorthand after college, so I'd have a practical skill as well as a college degree. Then I wiped each finger carefully with my linen napkin which was still quite clean.

Then I folded the linen napkin and laid it between my lips and brought my lips down on it precisely. When I put the napkin back on the table a fuzzy pink lip-shape bloomed right in the middle of it like a tiny heart. I thought what a long way I had come. The first time I saw a finger-bowl was at the home of my benefactress.

It was the custom at my college, the little freckled lady in the Scholarships Office told me, to write to the person whose scholarship you had, if they were still alive, and thank them for it. I had the scholarship of Philomena Guinea, a wealthy novelist who went to my college in the early nineteen-hundreds and had her first novel made into a silent film with Bette Davis as well as a radio serial that was still running, and it turned out she was alive and lived in a large mansion not far from my grandfather's country club.

So I wrote Philomena Guinea a long letter in coal-black ink on grey paper with the name of the college embossed on it in red. I wrote what the leaves looked like in autumn when I bicycled out into the hills, and how wonderful it was to live on a campus instead of commuting by bus to a city college and having to live at home, and how all knowledge was opening up before me and perhaps one day I would be able to write great books the way she did.

I had read one of Mrs Guinea's books in the town library—the college library didn't stock them for some reason—and it was crammed from beginning to end with long, suspenseful questions: 'Would Evelyn discern that Gladys knew Roger in her past?

Griselda demanded of her bleak, moonlit pillow. Mrs Guinea answered my letter and invited me to lunch at her home. That was where I saw my first finger-bowl. The water had a few cherry blossoms floating in it, and I thought it must be some clear sort of Japanese after-dinner soup and ate every bit of it, including the crisp little blossoms. Mrs Guinea never said anything, and it was only much later, when I told a debutante I knew at college about the dinner, that I learned what I had done.

When we came out of the sunnily-lit interior of the Ladies' Day offices, the streets were grey and fuming with rain. It wasn't the nice kind of rain that rinses you clean, but the sort of rain I imagine they must have in Brazil. It flew straight down from the sky in drops the size of coffee saucers and hit the hot sidewalks with a hiss that sent clouds of stream writhing up from the gleaming, dark concrete.

My secret hope of spending the afternoon alone in Central Park died in the glass egg-beater of Ladies' Day's revolving doors. I found myself spewed out through the warm rain and into the dim, throbbing cave of a cab, together with Betsy and Hilda and Emily Ann Offenbach, a prim little girl with a bun of red hair and a husband and three children in Teaneck, New Jersey. The movie was very poor. It starred a nice blonde girl who looked like June Allyson but was really somebody else, and a sexy black-haired girl who looked like Elizabeth Taylor but was also somebody else, and two big, broad-shouldered boneheads with names like Rick and Gil.

It was a football romance and it was in technicolour. I hate technicolour. Everybody in a technicolour movie seems to feel obliged to wear a lurid new costume in each new scene and to stand around like a clothes-horse with a lot of very green trees or very yellow wheat or very blue ocean rolling away for miles and miles in every direction. Most of the action in this picture took place in the football stands, with the two girls waving and cheering in smart suits with orange chrysanthemums the size of cabbages on their lapels, or in a ballroom, where the girls swooped across the floor with their dates, in dresses like something out of Gone With the Wind, and then sneaked off into the powder-room to say nasty intense things to each other.

Finally I could see the nice girl was going to end up with the nice football hero and the sexy girl was going to end up with nobody, because the man named Gil had only wanted a mistress and not a wife all along and was now packing off to Europe on a single ticket.

At about this point I began to feel peculiar. I looked round me at all the rows of rapt little heads with the same silver glow on them at the front and the same black shadow on them at the back, and they looked like nothing more or less than a lot of stupid moon-brains.

I felt in terrible danger of puking. I didn't know whether it was the awful movie giving me a stomach-ache or all that caviar I had eaten. Betsy was staring at the screen with deadly concentration.

The remains of a tepid rain were still sifting down when we stepped out into the street. Betsy looked a fright. The bloom was gone from her cheeks and her drained face floated in front of me, green and sweating. We fell into one of those yellow checkered cabs that are always waiting at the kerb when you are trying to decide whether or not you want a taxi, and by the time we reached the hotel I had puked once and Betsy had puked twice. The cab driver took the corners with such momentum that we were thrown together first on one side of the back seat and then on the other.

Each time one of us felt sick, she would lean over quietly as if she had dropped something and was picking it up off the floor, and the other one would hum a little and pretend to be looking out the window. The cab driver seemed to know what we were doing, even so. We didn't dare wait to add up the fare. We stuffed a pile of silver into the cabby's hand and dropped a couple of kleenexes to cover the mess on the floor, and ran in through the lobby and on to the empty elevator.

Luckily for us, it was a quiet time of day. Betsy was sick again in the elevator and I held her head, and then I was sick and she held mine. Usually after a good puke you feel better right away. We hugged each other and then said good-bye and went off to opposite ends of the hall to lie down in our own rooms.

There is nothing like puking with somebody to make you into old friends. But the minute I'd shut the door behind me and undressed and dragged myself on to the bed, I felt worse than ever. I felt I just had to go to the toilet. I struggled into my white bathrobe with the blue cornflowers on it and staggered down to the bathroom. Betsy was already there. I could hear her groaning behind the door, so I hurried on around the corner to the bathroom in the next wing.

I thought I would die, it was so far. I sat on the toilet and leaned my head over the edge of the washbowl and I thought I was losing my guts and my dinner both. The sickness rolled through me in great waves.

After each wave it would fade away and leave me limp as a wet leaf and shivering all over and then I would feel it rising up in me again, and the glittering white torture-chamber tiles under my feet and over my head and on all four sides closed in and squeezed me to pieces. I don't know how long I kept at it.

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I let the cold water in the bowl go on running loudly with the stopper out, so anybody who came by would think I was washing my clothes, and then when I felt reasonably safe I stretched out on the floor and lay quite still. It didn't seem to be summer any more. I could feel the winter shaking my bones and banging my teeth together, and the big white hotel towel I had dragged down with me lay under my head numb as a snowdrift.

I thought it very bad manners for anybody to pound on a bathroom door the way some person was pounding. They could just go around the corner and find another bathroom the way I had done and leave me in peace.

But the person kept banging and pleading with me to let them in and I thought I dimly recognized the voice. It sounded a bit like Emily Ann Offenbach. My words bungled out thick as molasses. I pulled myself together and slowly rose and flushed the toilet for the tenth time and slopped the bowl clean and rolled up the towel so the vomit stains didn't show very clearly and unlocked the door and stepped out into the hall.

I knew it would be fatal if I looked at Emily Ann or anybody else so I fixed my eyes glassily on a window that swam at the end of the hall and put one foot in front of the other. The next thing I had a view of was somebody's shoe. It was a stout shoe of cracked black leather and quite old, with tiny air holes in a scalloped pattern over the toe and a dull polish, and it was pointed at me.

It seemed to be placed on a hard green surface that was hurting my right cheekbone. I kept very still, waiting for a clue that would give me some notion of what to do. A little to the left of the shoe I saw a vague heap of blue cornflowers on a white ground and this made me want to cry.

It was the sleeve of my own bathrobe I was looking at, and my left hand lay pale as a cod at the end of it. For a minute I didn't think there was anything strange about it, and then I thought it was strange.

It was a man's voice, and no men were allowed to be in our hotel at any time of the night or day. I listened with interest. The floor seemed wonderfully solid. It was comforting to know I had fallen and could fall no farther. I figured she must belong to the black shoe.

Then a door opened in the distance, and there were voices and groans, and the door shut again. Two hands slid under my armpits and the woman's voice said, 'Come, come, lovey, we'll make it yet,' and I felt myself being half lifted, and slowly the doors began to move by, one by one, until we came to an open door and went in. The sheet on my bed was folded back, and the woman helped me he down and covered me up to the chin and rested for a minute in the bedside armchair, fanning herself with one plump, pink hand.

She wore gilt-rimmed spectacles and a white nurse's cap. I never seen anythin' like it. Sick here, sick there, whatever have you young ladies been stuffin' yourselves with? Somebody was standing by my pillow with a white cup. I shook my head. The pillow crackled like a wad of straw.

In the wan light that might have been evening and might have been dawn I contemplated the clear amber liquid. Pads of butter floated on the surface and a faint chickeny aroma fumed up to my nostrils.

My eyes moved tentatively to the skirt behind the cup. Her face was in shadow, so I couldn't make out her expression, but I felt a sort of expert tenderness flowing from the ends of her fingers.

She might have been Betsy or my mother or a fern-scented nurse. I bent my head and took a sip of the broth. I thought my mouth must be made of sand. I took another sip and then another and another until the cup was empty.

I felt purged and holy and ready for a new life. Doreen set the cup on the window-sill and lowered herself into the armchair. I noticed that she made no move to take out a cigarette, and as she was a chain-smoker this surprised me. It was the crabmeat. They did tests on it and it was chock-full of ptomaine. I saw avocado pear after avocado pear being stuffed with crabmeat and mayonnaise and photographed under brilliant lights. I saw the delicate, pink-mottled claw-meat poking seductively through its blanket of mayonnaise and the bland yellow pear cup with its rim of alligator-green cradling the whole mess.

As soon as you all started keeling over like ninepins somebody called into the office and the office called across to Ladies' Day and they did tests on everything left over from the big lunch. It was good to have Doreen back. They can't afford to have the lot of you running around saying you got poisoned at Ladies' Day. You could sue them for every penny they own if you just knew some smart law man. Nobody's opened the box yet, they're all out flat.

I'm supposed to be carting soup into everybody, seeing as I'm the only one on my feet, but I brought you yours first. Then I remembered and said, 'I've a present for you as well. I could hear her rustling around for a minute and then the sound of paper tearing. Finally she came back carrying a thick book with a glossy cover and people's names printed all over it. I suppose they thought it'd give you something to read while you were sick.

Doreen looked at me and I looked at her and we both burst out laughing. Slowly I swam up from the bottom of a black sleep.

I already had a telegram from Jay Cee stuck in my mirror, telling me not to bother to come into work but to rest for a day and get completely well, and how sorry she was about the bad crabmeat, so I couldn't imagine who would be calling.

I reached out and hitched the receiver on to my pillow so the mouthpiece rested on my collarbone and the earpiece lay on my shoulder. I didn't know any Constantin, but I hadn't the heart to say so. Then I remembered Mrs Willard and her simultaneous interpreter. I'd never have given Mrs Willard credit for introducing me to a man named Constantin.

I collected men with interesting names. I already knew a Socrates. He was tall and ugly and intellectual and the son of some big Greek movie producer in Hollywood, but also a Catholic, which ruined it for both of us. Gradually I realized that Constantin was trying to arrange a meeting for us later in the day. He seemed nonplussed. There was a silence. Then he said, 'Maybe you would like a bite to eat afterwards. Mrs Willard always invited you for a bite to eat.

I remembered that this man had been a guest at Mrs Willard's house when he first came to America—Mrs Willard had one of these arrangements where you open your house to foreigners and then when you go abroad they open their houses to you. I now saw quite clearly that Mrs Willard had simply traded her open house in Russia for my bite to eat in New York.

It's the Amazon, isn't it? I let him hang up first, and then I hung up and lay back in the pillows, feeling grim. There I went again, building up a glamorous picture of a man who would love me passionately the minute he met me, and all out of a few prosy nothings. A duty tour of the UN and a post-UN sandwich! I tried to jack up my morale. Probably Mrs Willard's simultaneous interpreter would be short and ugly and I would come to look down on him in the end the way I looked down on Buddy Willard.

This thought gave me a certain satisfaction. Because I did look down on Buddy Willard, and although everybody still thought I would marry him when he came out of the TB place, I knew I would never marry him if he were the last man on earth. Buddy Willard was a hypocrite.

Of course, I didn't know he was a hypocrite at first. I thought he was the most wonderful boy I'd ever seen. I'd adored him from a distance for five years before he even looked at me, and then there was a beautiful time when I still adored him and he started looking at me, and then just as he was looking at me more and more I discovered quite by accident what an awful hypocrite he was, and now he wanted me to marry him and I hated his guts.

The worst part of it was I couldn't come straight out and tell him what I thought of him, because he caught TB before I could do that, and now I had to humour him along till he got well again and could take the unvarnished truth. I decided not to go down to the cafeteria for breakfast. It would only mean getting dressed, and what was the point of getting dressed if you were staying in bed for the morning?

I could have called down and asked for a breakfast tray in my room, I guess, but then I would have to tip the person who brought it up and I never knew how much to tip. I'd had some very unsettling experiences trying to tip people in New York. When I first arrived at the Amazon a dwarfish, bald man in a bellhop's uniform carried my suitcase up in the elevator and unlocked my room for me.

Of course I rushed immediately to the window and looked out to see what the view was. After a while I was aware of this bellhop turning on the hot and cold taps in my washbowl and saying 'This is the hot and this is the cold' and switching on the radio and telling me the names of all the New York stations and I began to get uneasy, so I kept my back to him and said firmly, 'Thank you for bringing up my suitcase.

Later, when I told Doreen about his curious behaviour, she said, 'You ninny, he wanted his tip. Now I could have carried that suitcase to my room perfectly well by myself, only the bellhop seemed so eager to do it that I let him.

I thought that sort of service came along with what you paid for your hotel room. I hate handing over money to people for doing what I could just as easily do myself, it makes me nervous. Doreen said ten per cent was what you should tip a person, but I somehow never had the right change and I'd have felt awfully silly giving somebody half a dollar and saying, 'Fifteen cents of this is a tip for you, please give me thirty-five cents back.

The fare was a dollar, so I thought ten cents was exactly right and gave the driver my dime with a little flourish and a smile. But he only held it in the palm of his hand and stared and stared at it, and when I stepped out of the cab, hoping I had not handed him a Canadian dime by mistake, he started yelling, 'Lady I gotta live like you and everybody else,' in a loud voice which scared me so much I broke into a run.

Luckily he was stopped at a traffic light or I think he would have driven along beside me yelling in that embarrassing way. When I asked Doreen about this she said the tipping percentage might well have risen from ten to fifteen per cent since she was last in New York. Either that, or that particular cab-driver was an out and out louse. I reached for the book the people from Ladies' Day had sent. When I opened it a card fell out.

The front of the card showed a poodle in a flowered bedjacket sitting in a poodle basket with a sad face, and the inside of the card showed the poodle lying down in the basket with a little smile, sound asleep under an embroidered sampler that said, 'You'll get well best with lots and lots of rest'.

At the bottom of the card somebody had written, 'Get well quick! I flipped through one story after another until finally I came to a story about a fig-tree.

This fig-tree grew on a green lawn between the house of a Jewish man and a convent, and the Jewish man and a beautiful dark nun kept meeting at the tree to pick the ripe figs, until one day they saw an egg hatching in a bird's nest on a branch of the tree, and as they watched the little bird peck its way out of the egg, they touched the backs of their hands together, and then the nun didn't come out to pick figs with the Jewish man any more but a mean-faced Catholic kitchen-maid came to pick them instead and counted up the figs the man picked after they were both through to be sure he hadn't picked any more than she had, and the man was furious.

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I thought it was a lovely story, especially the part about the fig-tree in winter under the snow and then the fig-tree in spring with all the green fruit. I felt sorry when I came to the last page. I wanted to crawl in between those black lines of print the way you crawl through a fence, and go to sleep under that beautiful big green fig-tree. It seemed to me Buddy Willard and I were like that Jewish man and that nun, although of course we weren't Jewish or Catholic but Unitarian.

We had met together under our own imaginary fig-tree, and what we had seen wasn't a bird coming out of an egg but a baby coming out of a woman, and then something awful happened and we went our separate ways. As I lay there in my white hotel bed feeling lonely and weak, I thought of Buddy Willard lying even lonelier and weaker than I was up in that sanatorium in the Adirondacks, and I felt like a heel of the worst sort.

In his letters Buddy kept telling me how he was reading poems by a poet who was also a doctor and how he'd found out about some famous dead Russian short story writer who had been a doctor too, so maybe doctors and writers could get along fine after all. Now this was a very different tune from what Buddy Willard had been singing all the two years we were getting to know each other.

I remember the day he smiled at me and said, 'Do you know what a poem is, Esther? I spent a lot of time having imaginary conversations with Buddy Willard. He was a couple of years older than I was and very scientific, so he could always prove things. When I was with him I had to work to keep my head above water. These conversations I had in my mind usually repeated the beginnings of conversations I'd really had with Buddy, only they finished with me answering him back quite sharply, instead of just sitting around and saying 'I guess so'.

Now, lying on my back in bed, I imagined Buddy saying, 'Do you know what a poem is, Esther? So are the people you think you're curing. They're dust as dust as dust. I reckon a good poem lasts a whole lot longer than a hundred of those people put together.

People were made of nothing so much as dust, and I couldn't see that doctoring all that dust was a bit better than writing poems people would remember and repeat to themselves when they were unhappy or sick and couldn't sleep.

My trouble was I took everything Buddy Willard told me as the honest-to-God truth. I remember the first night he kissed me. It was after the Yale Junior Prom. It was strange, the way Buddy had invited me to that Prom. He popped into my house out of the blue one Christmas vacation, wearing a thick white turtleneck sweater and looking so handsome I could hardly stop staring and said, 'I might drop over to see you at college some day, all right?

I only saw Buddy at church on Sundays when we were both home from college, and then at a distance, and I couldn't figure what had put it into his head to run over and see me—he had run the two miles between our houses for cross-country practice, he said.

Of course, our mothers were good friends. They had gone to school together and then both married their professors and settled down in the same town, but Buddy was always off on a scholarship at prep school in the fall or earning money by fighting blister rust in Montana in the summer, so our mothers being old school chums really didn't matter a bit.

After this sudden visit I didn't hear a word from Buddy until one fine Saturday morning in early March. I was up in my room at college, studying about Peter the Hermit and Walter the Penniless for my history exam on the crusades the coming Monday when the hall phone rang.

Usually people are supposed to take turns answering the hall phone, but as I was the only freshman on a floor with all seniors they made me answer it most of the time. I waited a minute to see if anybody would beat me to it. Then I figured everybody was probably out playing squash or away on week-ends, so I answered it myself.

So there were twelve of us at the hotel, in the same wing on the same floor in single rooms, one after the other, and it reminded me of my dormitory at college. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath 2. Fiction Tweet. Register for a free account. Community Reviews Your Review. I thought it must be the worst thing in the world. I was supposed to be having the time of my life. There were twelve of us at the hotel.I remember the texture of the ceilings and the cracks and the colours and the damp spots and the light fixtures.

Lenny looked relieved. I wouldn't have a chance if he tried anything funny. This thought gave me a certain satisfaction. She made hats. Many books have significant or minor changes between editions. I tried to imagine Jay Cee out of her strict office suit and luncheon-duty hat and in bed with her fat husband, but I just couldn't do it.

BONG from Nebraska
Feel free to read my other posts. I enjoy wood carving. I am fond of reading novels offensively.