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The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar

by Sylvia Plath

The Fig Tree

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

In Chapter 5, Esther flips open an anthology of short stories, and instantly connects with a story about a Jewish man and a Catholic nun who meet under a fig tree. (The story is a twist on the Biblical story of the Garden of Eden, where a tree is also the scene of a frisk between the sexes.) The short story resonates with Esther because it speaks to her own experience with Buddy. Even though she and Buddy go to the same church, they may as well be from different religions because of their vastly different outlooks – on the roles of men and women, for example. Later, Esther returns to the fig tree again in Chapter 7, this time as an image of all of the things she could be but won't because she's paralyzed with indecision.

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