Looking At The Bell Jar English Literature Essay

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One passage that I read in the Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath, that I felt was very interesting was the passage about the fig tree (Page 77, Paragraph 5). This passage occurred when Esther, the main character, was watching a man named Constantin work. During this scene, Esther was thinking about all the things she was bad at like dancing, cooking, and singing. Esther then began to imagine that her life was a fig tree, and on each branch there were figs that represented different paths of life that she could take. However, Esther told herself that she couldn't choose which path she wanted to take so these figs all shriveled up and fell. This quote was significant to the novel because it was a symbol of Esther's insanity. When Esther decided that she could not choose a path to take and allowed all the figs to shrivel up, it symbolized her slow fall towards insanity. Throughout this whole book, the theme was about escaping their troubles. In order to escape the responsibility that those lives represented, Esther decided to give up and not choose any of those lives. Instead, Esther decided to run from those problems and allow her to slowly waste away. This passage was also interesting to me because it connected to me emotionally. I felt sad that Esther would allow herself not to choose even one of those paths. In addition, as a child, I would also often imagine my life was a tree and that each branch would represent the different choices that I would make. Also, the description that Plath used as a fig tree also helped me connect to Esther. The word tree used in the description makes me visualize a massive tree with two or three figs on each branch. This helped me comprehend the difficulty of the choice that Esther had to make.

Another passage that I was interesting was the passage where Esther tried to drown herself (Page 160 Paragraph 10). In this passage, Esther was at the ocean with her friends. Esther wanted to swim a mile up to a large rock in the middle of the ocean in order to tire herself so she would drown. However, Esther knew that she would stay on the rock and recover her strength. Esther decided in the middle of the swim that she would try to drown herself there. Instead of drowning, Esther had to come up for air no matter how hard she tried not to. This passage was interesting to me because of the detail that Plath put into this scene. As Esther was swimming down, Plath made sure to describe the feeling of the water pressure when you swim deep into water. When Esther emerges from the water, Plath describes the world as sparkling with many colors. This passage was significant to the story as well. This attempt of suicide could be seen as foreshadowing by Plath. Esther continuing to try to dive down and drown herself could be representative of each of her suicide attempts. Since she always resurfaced after each time, it could be a representation that she will be able to overcome her insanity. This passage was also significant to the work because it was one of the many times that she tried to kill herself. While I was reading this passage, I also got angry at Esther. On the previous page, Esther was talking about how her own family would forget about her because she was mentally insane. I thought that Esther was completely ignoring her own family and didn't even think about the consequences of what would happen if she died. In addition to anger, I also felt a little bit of pity for Esther. I knew that she was not sane and couldn't control herself.

Another passage that was interesting was the passage where Esther threw out all of her clothing out into the streets of New York (Page 111 Paragraph 6). When Esther threw out the clothing, Plath described it as a loved one's ashes (Plath 111). This description brings a negative vibe towards the ending of the passage. Esther had just come back from a date that did not go very well. Prior to that date Esther could not bear to even look at the expensive clothing that she had. Her friend, Doreen, helped her solve this problem by shoving all the clothes under her bed. . I felt that this was a significant event in the story because it showed a point in the story where Esther gave up. Before Esther threw out all of her clothing out her window, she went on a date with a man named Marco. During this date, it was apparent that Esther had given up and basically allowed Marco to almost rape her. However, Marco stopped on his own allowing Esther to leave. This idea that Esther had given up is supported by her throwing out her clothing. Throwing out her clothing could be seen as a symbol of her giving up on her current life. This passage relates to the theme of the work because by throwing out the clothes; Esther is trying to forget about that time of her life. In some way, this shows that Esther is trying to escape the memories of the things that happened to her before. This connects to me because I have also done the same type of thing. Sometimes when something bad happens to me, I would normally try to get rid of the evidence that would remind me of what happened. For example, if I did badly at a swim meet, I would throw out the ribbon that I got saying what place I got in that event.

The Catcher in the Rye

In the novel, The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger, one passage that I felt was interesting was the passage when Holden, the main character, was thinking about what it would be like if he died of pneumonia (Page 154 Paragraph 3). This occurred when Holden was outside in the cold after getting drunk and was wondering what would happen if he got pneumonia and died. He imagined that there would be millions of people that would come to his funeral, including his family and cousin. However, Holden called the people that would come to his funeral stupid and lousy. I thought that this passage was significant to the novel because it shows the isolation that Holden continuously wants. Later in this passage, Holden says that he would rather have someone dump his deceased body into a river. He wants this to happen to him because he does not want to be "surrounded by dead guys." (Salinger 155) This continued need of isolation is seen throughout the entire novel, from the football game to his date with Sally. By calling his family lousy and jerks, it tells the readers that Holden does not hold many people in a good light. This causes Holden to be isolated by a lot of people. While I was reading this passage, I felt a mix of sadness and anger towards Holden. I was angry at Holden because he did not even respect the people that came to his brother's funeral. When someone comes to funeral, they are coming to pay respect to the deceased. Instead of thanking these people, Holden says derogatory remarks toward to them. I was also sad while reading this passage also because of how Holden did not want to be with anyone after he died. I feel that Holden didn't even care about most of his family now besides Phoebe, his sister.

One other passage that I thought was very interesting was Holden's description of the museum. In this passage Holden was planning on visiting his sister Phoebe (Page 119, Paragraph 8). While he was looking for her sister, he stumbled upon the museum, bringing up old memories. Holden tells us that he used to come to this museum every week while he was a child. Each time that Holden would come to this museum, he said that the objects would never change and that he would change a little each time. This passage is interesting to me because it made me think of a different perspective on things. While I was reading the passage, I thought about what it would be like to stand in the same spot, watching everything around me change. I felt that this would be a surreal experience if it ever happened. I think that Holden also felt this same way. However, I think that Holden did not want to grow up and wanted to stay the same just like the things in the museum. I think this relates to the overall theme of the work because it shows another way that Holden was isolated. Holden told the readers that he thought the best thing in the museum was that nothing changed. Salinger also makes it seem a bit negative that things were changing, adding to the idea that Holden wants to stay the same and not change. Because Holden wants to not change, it causes him to lose some friends and become isolated. This is supported by the conversation between Holden and Ackler, where Ackler tells Holden to grow up. While I was reading this passage I felt intrigued because I had never thought of a museum in that way. I thought that the idea of a museum being frozen in time was an interesting way of describing it.

Another passage that was interesting to me was when Holden was talking to Sally while they were on a date at an ice-skating rink (Page 130, Paragraph 12). Holden was talking about many random things. While Holden was talking to Sally, he kept saying the opposite of what Sally was saying. The way that Salinger wrote this passage makes it seem like Sally is right and that Holden is just trying to deny it. During their conversation, Holden up the topic of cars. Holden said that most people are crazy about cars, and that they would get mad over a scratch on their car. He also said that people would always try to get the newest model of a car even if they just bought a new one. I thought that this passage was significant to The Catcher in the Rye because it showed how Holden got angry at people very easily for even the smallest of things. If somebody had a passion for something, like cars, Holden would get angry at them. This could have been the reason why Holden got so angry at Stradlater for going out with his old friend, Jane. This is related towards the theme of the work because it shows why Holden is so irritated by everyone. Holden could be mad at people because they are losing their innocence. This could be why the only person that Holden has really connected to was his sister and brother, Phoebe and Allie. Holden has probably only connected to Phoebe because they were children and very innocent. While I was reading this passage I felt the same way about some people. Many people right now always want to have the newest phones. They usually do not care whether or not they just got a new phone, and they just want to be up to date with the new technology.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

In the novel The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot, one passage that I found to be interesting was the one where Skloot is driving to Clover and found out that Clover was gone (Page 305, Paragraph 1). When Skloot was driving to Clover, the road to Clover was longer than she remembered. It wasn't until Skloot noticed the Clover post office was there and nothing else that Clover was gone. During this passage, Skloot walked around the remains of Clover and picked up rubble that was left over. While she was doing this, Skloot began to reminisce about Henrietta Lack's past. Skloot was afraid that Lack's past was disappearing like an incident 7 years ago where many people connected to Lack died. I felt that this passage was significant because it showed how quickly the past could be forgotten. An entire village could be destroyed without anyone even knowing about it. When Clover was destroyed, many things in Henrietta's childhood were also destroyed. This also relates to the theme of the work because it shows just quickly things can happen. Throughout the novel, Skloot emphasizes on the importance of ethics. The town was a major part in the entire Lacks family. It was so widely populated by the Lacks family that a part of Clover was named Lacks Town. I felt that it was very unethical that somebody could cause the entire town disappear with so many people obvlious to what was happening. While I was reading this passage, I was as shocked as Skloot to find out that Clover was gone. I was not expecting to find the town where Henrietta grew up in and spent most of her life leveled to nothing. I felt sympathetic for the entire Lacks family and sorry for how they would never be able to revisit the town to relive their past memories.

Another passage that I felt was interesting to me was the passage where Skloot asked Defler, her teacher, about Henrietta's past and Defler responded that no one knows anything about her (Page 4, Paragraph 8). I thought that this was interesting because Defler said to his class that "[Her] cells have now been living outside her body far longer than they ever lived inside it. (Skloot 4)" He also said that in almost all of the culture labs in the world have millions of HeLa cells in them. Later on in the passage, Skloot tried to find information about Henrietta, but there were basically no sources available that had information on Henrietta's past. Henrietta was only known as the origin of these HeLa cells and nothing else. Defler's response to Skloot was very interesting because it showed just how little people care about things as long as they get what they want. This is seen many times in modern day; as long as things are being done, people do not care how it is done. These scientists all wanted to find an immortal cell and did not care about how they achieved this. The previously mentioned passage relates to the theme of the work because it shows that many scientists in the 1950s did not care much about ethics as long as progress in the scientific industry was made. The fact that many people did not know about the troubles that Henrietta's family had gone through because of the scientific industry supports the previous idea. While I was reading this passage, I felt appalled that such an important woman could be so unknown. Henrietta contributed so much to the scientific cause and people did not seem to care about what had happened. Her cells were taken out with basically no consent. The cells were used to treat many different diseases and solve human mysteries. Nevertheless, Henrietta and her family both did not gain any recognition or even money.

Another passage that was interesting to me was the passage where a scientist called Christoph was showing Deborah and Zakariyya, Henrietta's daughter and son, Henrietta's cells (Page 262, Paragraph 9). During this passage, Christoph was also explaining things about the cells that he thought they wouldn't know. On the contrary, Deborah knew a fair amount about what he was talking about, surprising Christoph. During this scene, Deborah and Zakariyya were in awe about how just the pure amount of their mother's cell. When Christoph showed Deborah and Zakariyya their mother's cells, they got very emotional. Deborah got especially emotional and also secretly talked to the cells as if she was talking to her mother. I felt that this passage was significant because it marked the time where Deborah and Zakariyya got to hold their mother's cells for the first time. These two had been separated from their mother for decades and were finally united in this scene. When Deborah was holding the vial of her mother's cell, she kissed it and said, "You're famous, Just nobody knows it. (Skloot 263)" Once I read that quote I felt a mixture of both happiness and sadness. The sadness that I felt was a result of me remembering that Henrietta Lacks was still an obscure person that many did not know about. Even though she contributed much to the scientific world, she has gotten very little recognition. However, I was very happy when Deborah was finally able to "meet" her mother. I felt that this was kind of like of an ending to a long and painful road for Deborah. After years of not knowing what it is that her mother helped her do, Deborah was finally able to see her mother. I was very touched that Deborah was able to finally speak to her mother. Even though that the cells are not really Henrietta, Deborah certainly feels that there is a spiritual connection related between the cells and her mother.

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