“I thought the most beautiful thing in the world must be shadow…” – From “The Bell Jar”

Last year when we were in Annapolis, I exclaimed many times on the beautiful sights, “It’s the most stunning place I’ve ever seen!” While my husband nodded along without sincere agreement, just like what I did when we were in other enormous scenic places like all the national parks, when he’s busy in taking pictures from all angles using his complex Canon.  But “Why? What is it that makes me love it so much?”

“It is the shadow!” Then one day on the way back to hotel in D.C, I exclaimed again.  “It is the shadow that makes all these so beautiful and special.  The shadow here is so different with the one in Seattle, which is always soft and blurry.  But here everything is dark and sharp, especially the shadow of the winter branches. It shows the determination, the unambiguous way that the world should be…”

And it is one of the many reasons why I love “The Bell Jar”, which is an ironically funny and depressing book.  But that doesn’t mean that I like anything about Esther, nor do I resemble her in any way, other than a few facts that we both like shadow, both have certain sense of humor, and are not natural optimists.  I do admit that for certain years in college I’d have the feeling of fighting for breath every day, wanting someone to come and say they wanted to be friend with me, but I didn’t want to be friends with any of them… I always think the biggest blessing of my life is to find my husband, who on the opposite side is a natural optimist.  And that is why when he is occasionally not happy, I feel pressured to cheer him up, sometimes even get furious because of that, as he is the source of all my happiness and hope come from.

I can understand the people who don’t like “The Bell Jar” particularly when approaching to the second half of the book. – There were no exciting incidents; no main characters other than the depressed Esther; all happened in the book was the 24/7 on-going thoughts in Esther’s mind on how to kill herself.  But I feel the writing is very smooth and easy to follow.  Just like you are drifting in the canoe, it is frightening but all you have to do and want to do is to follow the rushing water.

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