"A girl lives in some out-of-the-way town for nineteen years, so poor she can’t afford a magazine, and then she gets a scholarship to college and wins a prize here and a prize there and ends up steering New York like her own private car. Only I wasn’t steering anything, not even myself. I just bumped from my hotel to work and to parties and from parties to my hotel and back to work like a numb trolleybus. I guess I should have been excited the way most of the other girls were, but I couldn’t get myself to react. I felt very still and very empty" (Esther 61)
This quote sums up the way Esther views her life and the way rest of society views her life. Esther should feel happy and excited about all that she has accomplished yet she feels some emptiness inside of her. That emptiness comes from her surroundings. This story takes place in New York during the 1950s. During this time, women were barely starting to have jobs and move up in the social ladder. This idea of women going out and accomplishing things was not yet fully absorbed by society. Whenever she goes and earns prizes and scholarships, she gets mocked yet whenever she finds a nice and handsome guy to date, she gets more respect. She does not think that you can be a wife, a mother, and still balance a career. Her feelings about marriage and work are contradictory to the opinions and expectations of society. This causes her to have a mental unbalance.
In her field of work, fashion, none of the girls have these worries. All her other colleagues go out, get drunk, and make love. She works for these people and she finds them very fake and superficial. She knows that it is everyone's dream to live the life Esther lives. Instead of being proud of the life she lives, she does not appreciate it and finds her life very boring and depressing. The superficiality of Esther's colleagues anger her very much and that anger eventually takes over her life.