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Chapter 16

It occurs to her that Joan had had herself admitted simply as a joke on Esther. She asks Joan how she got there. Joan says she had read about Esther in the paper and ran away: she'd had a summer job she hated, with a boss who constantly hassled her. She holes herself up in her apartment and never answers the phone until her doctor sends her to a psychiatrist. When she finally gets to the see the doctor, she's confronted with a whole bunch of medical students, all of which makes her even more uncomfortable. When she gets home, she writes a letter to the doctor telling him how terrible he was. Esther asks her if she got an answer to the letter and Joan says she doesn't know, because that's the day she read about Esther in the paper.

Incredibly, she produces a pile of clippings to show Esther. The first has the headline, "Scholarship Girl Missing. Mother Worried." Apparently when Esther didn't return by midnight the day she left the note, her mother called the police, and soon they had police and dogs looking for her in the woods. The second headline trumpeted, "Sleeping Pills Feared Missing with Girl." The last read, "Girl Found Alive!" and showed a picture of the police lifting a limp body into an ambulance.

Joan says she read all about Esther and got on the first plan to New York; she thought it would be easier to kill herself in New York, she tells Esther, and shows her the deep scars across her wrists.

That night Esther wakes up to a loud voice; suddenly she realizes the voice is her own - she's calling for the night nurse and banging on the bedpost with her hands. The nurse tells her she's had a "reaction" which she discusses with Dr. Nolan a few days later. In the few days in between she's been as quiet and unobtrusive as possible, fearing she'd be assigned to have shock treatments again. Dr. Nolan tells her she has news for her and Esther fears the worst: instead, the doctor tells her she won't be allowed to have visitors for a while, which pleases Esther. Esther has a lot of visitors and she despises all of them because she feels everyone is judging and evaluating her. Her mother was the worst of them all; she never scolded - instead, she kept begging Esther to tell her what she'd done wrong. One afternoon, she brings Esther a bouquet of roses and reminds Esther it's her birthday, which she'd utterly forgotten. Esther dumps the roses in her wastebasket. She tells Dr. Nolan she hates her mother.

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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