Study Guide

The Bell Jar Chapter 3

By Sylvia Plath

Chapter 3

  • The narrator and the other interns arrive at the offices of Ladies' Day magazine, where the test kitchens have prepared a special banquet for them. Doreen is absent; she's spending most of her time with Lenny.
  • The narrator is psyched about the free food. She's not used to eating at fine restaurants. The best food she's eaten is at the country club where her grandfather is the head waiter.
  • She takes a look over the banquet table, planning her angle of attack. She spreads caviar over some thin slices of chicken, folds the chicken slices, and gobbles them up. Next, she attacks the avocado.
  • Stuffed, she asks Betsy how the fur show that morning was. Betsy raves and says that they all learned how to make neckerchiefs out of mink tails and a gold chain. Betsy points out Hilda, a fashion intern, who is indeed wearing a mink neckerchief.
  • Betsy asks the narrator why she didn't attend the fur show. The narrator is quite glum.
  • The narrator had planned on ditching the fur show and the banquet, and spending the entire day on the lawn in Central Park. Instead, she got called into her boss's office.
  • (We finally find out her name is Esther, by the way.)
  • Esther's boss, an intelligent but unattractive older woman named Jay Cee, asked her what she planned on doing as a career. The narrator had no answer. Her boss berated her at first for not being motivated enough, but was mollified when the narrator said she would squeeze in some more foreign languages in college.
  • Esther's conversation with Jay Cee reminds her of how she weaseled her way out of the chemistry requirement in college. Since she had already received an A in physics, she convinced her dean that she needed to take a course on Shakespeare instead. But just to show that she wasn't weaseling out of chemistry because she hated it – which she did – she offered to attend every single class. The faculty was impressed with her "maturity." (We're just impressed by their gullibility.)

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