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The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar

by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar Chapter 5 Summary

  • At 7am the next day, Esther is woken up by a phone call from a man named Constantin. She can't place him at first, but realizes that he must be the simultaneous interpreter that Mrs. Willard, the mother of her boyfriend, Buddy Willard, had asked her to befriend.
  • Esther agrees to go with Constantin on a tour of the UN, where he works.
  • Esther then flips through The Thirty Best Short Stories. She finds a story about a fig tree that she especially likes. In the story, a nun and a Jewish man keep meeting at a fig tree to pick figs. One day, they see a nest, where a bird is hatching from an egg. Their hands touch. The next day, a different, mean nun comes out and the Jewish man is disappointed.
  • Esther thinks that her relationship with Buddy Willard is a lot like the fig tree. Instead of a bird coming out of an egg, they had witnessed a baby coming out of a woman, and then some catastrophe happened before they went their separate ways.
  • Esther then thinks back over her relationship with Buddy Willard. At first, he dismissed poetry, but lately he's been sending her letters from a sanatorium (a kind of rehab center for people with tuberculosis) where he seems to be changing his mind.
  • Even though their mothers are college friends, Esther didn't know Buddy very well growing up, but admired him from a distance. At college, Buddy surprised her one day and dropped off a letter inviting her to the Yale Junior Prom.
  • On the night after the prom, they kissed behind the chemistry lab at Yale. Esther thought the kiss was unimpressive, but Buddy was bowled over. He told her that he thought she must have dated a lot of guys – which she had, but they were all unsuccessful blind dates. After that incident, Esther had always thought of herself as being more experienced than Buddy.
  • But she discovered that Buddy was a hypocrite on the day they saw a baby being born.

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