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What is the significance in The Bell Jar of the execution of the Rosenbergs?

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What is the significance in The Bell Jar of the execution of the Rosenbergs?

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Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed in the electric chair at Sing-Sing prison in New York on June 19, 1953. They had been convicted of passing nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union. However, many people at the time believed the Rosenbergs were innocent, and there was a vigorous campaign to save them from the death penalty. The case against Ethel Rosenberg was especially weak. The opening paragraph of The Bell Jar contains an extended reference to the famous case: “It was . . . the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs.” Esther comments that the case was all there was to read about in the newspapers. She adds, “It had nothing to do with me, but I couldn’t help wondering what it would be like, being burned alive all along your nerves.” She thinks “it must be the worst thing in the world.” There is another somewhat chilling reference to the execution later in the novel, at the beginning of chapter 9. It is the day of the execution, and Esther’s fellow intern Hilda says, “I’m so glad

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