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Chapter 17

One morning she's informed by a nurse she's being moved to Belsize, apparently another step up. She panics - she thinks she's not ready to move up. Joan was already at Belsize, and had all sorts of extra privileges, like walking, shopping and town privileges. Esther is actually quite bitter about all of Joan's progress and secretly hopes Joan will be gone by the time she gets there. At least, she thought, she wouldn't have to worry about the threat of shock treatments at Belsize.

Even the patients were different at Belsize; they were dressed better, wore make-up and some were even married. Esther feels out of place, and as if all the women are staring at her like she's some lower life form. That evening when they're all sitting around in the lounge, one of them, DeeDee, is playing the piano, Esther joins them. She has just started a conversation with one of the women when Joan holds up a magazine and asks Esther if that's her in the pages. Esther describes the picture: "The magazine photography showed a girl in a strapless dress.grinning fit to split, with a whole lot of boys bending in around her." She maintains the picture is not of her.

A few of the women get a bridge game together, and talk a nurse into being the fourth. It turns out the nurse works two places - at this asylum and at the state hospital which she describes in pretty dismal terms. The way the nurse looks at her, Esther knows the nurse doesn't think she belongs at Belsize.

The next morning Esther wakes up as a nurse walks in her room and realizes immediately the nurse is not carrying a breakfast tray; it must be some mistake, she thinks. She gets up and heads down to the kitchen herself and asks for her tray; she's told it's not a mistake - she isn't scheduled to have breakfast that day. She knows what this means: shock treatments. She hides in an alcove of the hall, furious with Dr. Nolan. Dr. Nolan appears herself, saying she hadn't told her ahead of time because she didn't want her to stay awake the whole night before worrying. But the doctor promises to take her over herself and stay with her the whole time.

Esther is terrified: she walks into the treatment room with her eyes half-closed - she can't even bear to look. The technician, Miss Huey, readies her for treatment. Miss Huey puts something on Esther's tongue and in a panic she bites down; just then, "darkness wiped me out like chalk on a blackboard."

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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