The Bell Jar/Seven

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Plot summary[edit | edit source]

Chapter seven is the story of Esther's encounter with Constantin, the interpreter. She describes him as handsome in his own way, but way too short. If it wasn't for his tan and good teeth, he could pass for an American. However, unlike any man Esther has known, he had what she called intuition. She feels comfortable in his company and believes that he won't mind if she's too tall or lacking knowledge. They visit the UN, where Esther expresses her admiration of another interpreter she see there, a Russian woman. She feels inadequate in comparison and begins to list things she cannot do, like horse riding, dancing, typing shorthand or cooking. The image of the fig tree makes another appearance.

Esther goes with Constantin to a New York restaurant. After several glasses of wine she decides that she will let Constantin seduce her, since she thinks she ought to sleep with somebody just like Buddy did, to “even out' the score. She mentions the one time she had discussed going to bed before, with a boy from Yale she met by chance one weekend. They discussed the topic over coffee and the boy shared his one experience he had with a woman. In the end Esther decided not to sleep with him. Back in New York, Esther is invited by Constantin to his apartment. She agrees, partly to spite all the people warning young women not to go to other men's apartments, as well as Mrs. Willard, who introduced them.

Esther and Constantin spend some time listening to music, after which she goes to lie down on his bed. He lies down beside her, but before anything can happen, she falls asleep and wakes up at three o'clock in the morning. She imagines what it would be like to be Constantin's wife and equates that life with Mrs. Willard's life, as well as reflecting on her parents and Buddy's remarks about their eventual future life. She wakes Constantin up and has him drive her to her hotel. The rain makes her remember her old leg-break, blaming it first on Buddy, then on herself.

Example study questions[edit | edit source]

  • What does this chapter establish about Esther's ambitions?
  • What does Esther find attractive or unattractive about Constantin?