Study Guide

The Bell Jar Chapter 13

By Sylvia Plath

Chapter 13

  • Esther is at the beach, where Jody has invited her out on a double date. Esther and Cal, her date, discuss a play where the main character finds out that he has inherited a brain disease because his father had a sexually transmitted disease, and his mother contemplates euthanizing him.
  • Esther then invites Cal out for a swim. Cal can't swim as far as she can, but she continues to swim on without him.
  • That morning, Esther had tried to kill herself by hanging, but she obviously wasn't successful.
  • As she swims, she attempts to drown herself, but again, she's unsuccessful. She swims back to shore.
  • Later, she goes to volunteer at a hospital. She's sent to the maternity ward to distribute the patients' flowers, but she messes up the flowers. The patients complain, and she runs away.
  • Later, she seeks out her father's grave. It's a rainy day, and she's wearing a black coat she bought with the last of her money. She realizes she never cried over her father's death, and cries her heart out over his gravestone.
  • She decides to attempt suicide again. When her mother leaves for work that morning, she steals her mother's sleeping pills. She pushes her way into a crawl space in the basement, takes the pills, and loses consciousness.

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