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The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar

by Sylvia Plath

Women and Femininity Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

This hotel – the Amazon – was for women only, and they were mostly girls my age with wealthy parents [...] and they were all going to posh secretarial schools like Katy Gibbs, where they had to wear hats and stockings and gloves to class, or they had just graduated from places like Katy Gibbs and were secretaries to executives and junior executives and simply hanging around in New York waiting to get married to some career man or other. (1.15)

Esther self-consciously distances herself from the other women staying at the Amazon, which is a rather ironic name for a residence designed to keep virginal young women safe from lascivious men (think about the mythological Amazons). Her rejection of the secretarial career path is one of the reasons she can't stand her mother, who teaches shorthand, a necessary skill at the time for secretaries.

Quote #2

[Buddy and I] 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. (5.47)

This passage refers to a story that Esther reads where a Jewish man and a Catholic nun meet under a fig tree until one day they bond over seeing a bird hatching out of an egg. The next day, the Catholic nun is replaced by another, grouchier nun. For Esther, the story helps her understand what happened when she went to visit Buddy at medical school, where she witnessed a delivery being performed. Instead of the experience bringing her and buddy together, the experience only confirmed her reluctance to go down the motherhood route.

Quote #3

My trouble was I took everything Buddy Willard told me as the honest-to-God truth. (5.60)

Early in their relationship, Esther idolizes Buddy as a moral and intellectual guide.

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