| Quote #4
I started adding up all the things I couldn't do [...] I felt dreadfully inadequate [...] The one thing I was good at was winning scholarships and prizes, and that era was coming to an end. (7.9-18)
Up until the summer before her senior year, Esther has done a good job of being a student of literature. But the thought of entering the real world terrifies her. The world she lives in seems to be about making money or spending money; it seems to have no place for the literary ideals that she cherishes.
| Quote #5
I saw the years of my life spaced along a road in the form of telephone poles, threaded together by wires. I counted one, two, three ... nineteen telephone poles, and then the wires dangled into space, and try as I would, I couldn't see a single pole beyond the nineteenth. (10.125)
In this passage, Esther considers all of the conventionally acceptable options for a well-educated young woman like herself, but they all bore her – literally to death, as she can't imagine her life extending past her nineteenth year.
| Quote #6
The gray, padded roof closed over my head like the roof of a prison van, and the white, shining, identical clapboard houses with their interstices of well-groomed green proceeded past, one bar after another in a large but escape-proof cage. (10.34)
While for many the American suburb represented American affluence, Esther feels imprisoned, particularly after the hustle and bustle of New York City.