Months and months ago, my lovely cousin Amy started a book reading challenge that I have fallen completely into. The main reason is that most of the books A) are good, and B) they're not entirely crap. Which leads me to the March book.
The Bell Jar - by Sylvia Plath
Before I started reading the book, all I knew about this book was that every woman who hates some part of men for whatever tiniest reason known only to themselves, had read this book. While I know that as a man, I can A) never truly relate to the issues that the book raises and B) anything that I say will probably be regarded as me being a chauvinist pig. My answer to all that for anyone who might feel that way is get the fuck over it. That being said, this is my review of The Bell Jar.
The first and wonderful thing that I loved about the novel was the authors ability to transport me from 2012 to the 1960s. I loved that I felt like I was right there by the characters sides throughout. As the novel wore on, I realized how much I appreciated the attention to detail in regards to every little thing. From the streets and offices of New York to the therapist offices and treatment centers. But not just that, though. Every little item that stroked a memory in Esther's mind seemed to stroke one in mine. Now as for Esther, our heroine, she started to bother me about 10 pages in. (This is where I will become a pig, to some).
Maybe it's my upbringing or my youthful adulthood or my own acknowledgement of my personal issues, but all I could think about when thinking about Esther's "issues" was get the fuck over it. Seriously, get the fuck over it. I know that you don't recognize your issues until you can move past them, but Esther always had "something." She was an excellent writer who didn't believe she belonged where she was. I know she wasn't a whore like her friends. She wasn't rich like her bitchy friends. None of us are. The difference was that those people knew who they were, and she didn't. I get that. But seriously, get the fuck over it and move on.
I was personally amazed(?)/appalled(?) by how men treated women in the 1960s when they couldn't handle their shit. Seriously, who the fuck submits their wives to electrocution? That shit bothered me a lot. What type of a man can't deal with their own shit on their own time and help their wife out? Maybe it's my upbringing. I don't know. This book bothered me a lot because all I heard was that little fuck from "Catcher in the Rye" the whole time, just in a female voice. I guess when you have to deal with social expectations and family/personal ones that are contrary to each other, your life will be crazy.
In these modern times, I see a book of the same material being written would not have the effect it should have. Maybe it's because more people whine about their lives and many of us are desensitized to it all. The Bell Jar is a book that should resonate with any young woman, so long as you are upper middle class. It does matter in the realm of literature history because it was the first major piece, in my opinion, that made every young girl who read it understand that it's okay to say you aren't happy and that you don't need therapy. It's okay to be lost at times. It's okay to acknowledge that you have problems. But what is most important, is that you need to get the fuck over it.
If I were to rename the Catcher in the Rye it would most definitely be "White People Problems." If I were to rename The Bell Jar, it would be "White Women Problems." Thank you Amy for making me have to read this shit. My US Women's History professor would be proud.
That is if she were ever happy that a man did anything.