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Chapter 11

Esther is in the waiting room at the psychiatrist's office. The room, decorated all in beiges and plants, feels very safe to Esther. She realizes suddenly that was because the room had no windows. She was still wearing Betsy's clothes; she hadn't washed her clothes or her hair in the three weeks and hadn't slept for seven days. She hadn't washed anything because it seemed so pointless, the future seem filled with dull repetition of acts.

She hates the doctor, Dr. Gordon, the second he walks in the door. He is young and good-looking and she immediately thinks he's conceited. On his desk is a photograph of himself and his family, looking very happy and this picture infuriates Esther. When he asks, she tells him about the not eating and not sleeping and not reading. But she doesn't tell him about the handwriting: the other day she had tried to write a letter to Doreen and when she picked up her pen she somehow could only manage to write a few letters which looked like they'd been written by a child. Dr. Gordon doesn't ask about this, of course, because he couldn't know, but Esther feels sort of satisfied with herself all the same, like she'd tricked him. He asks her about college, which perplexes her, and then tells her he'll see her next week. When her mother hears this, she just sighs, as the appointments cost twenty-five dollars an hour.

The scene switches, and Esther is at Boston Common, and is approached by young sailor. When he asks, she says her name is Elly and that she's from Chicago. They walk around the Common, him with his arm around her, as she wonders what it would be like to actually change her name and move to Chicago. She asks him about his goals after getting out of the Navy, and is suddenly struck by how young, handsome and innocent-looking the sailor is. He asks if he can kiss her; but out of the corner of her eye she think she see Mrs. Willard, so she pretends to ask him the way to the subway. It turns out the woman in brown is not anyone she knows; she tells the sailor the woman reminds her of someone she knew in Chicago, and that she's an orphan. She cries hysterically in the sailor's arms and thinks it's all the fault of the woman in brown.

The scene changes again, back to Dr. Gordon's office. She tells him she feels the same as the previous week and now hasn't slept in fourteen days. She takes out the torn pieces of the letter she tried to write and threw them on his desk; to her surprise, he doesn't say anything about the letter, but instead asks to see her mother. When her mother emerges, she's been crying; she tells Esther the doctor says he thinks she should have some shock treatments at a hospital in Walton.

The next section opens with a newspaper account of a man who was rescued from a ledge, from where he threatened to jump. Esther is sitting in the Public Garden, thinking about this story - the trouble with jumping, she thought, is if you didn't pick the right number of stories, you'd still be alive when you hit bottom. She looked around and remembers when she and her younger brother used to come to this park and play. She sees her favorite tree, the Weeping Scholar tree, which she thinks comes from Japan. In Japan, she thinks, they disemboweled themselves when anything went wrong. How would that work, exactly? She thinks, "It must take a lot of courage to die like that."

The next morning she is going to Walton, and she considers running away, but doesn't have any money and isn't sure where she wants to go. She goes to the bus station and ends up just taking a bus home.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20


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