symbolize identity and Esther
’s reflection in and relation to mirrors throughout the novel follows the loss of her healthy self to mental illness. Esther’s inability to recognize herself in the elevator reflection at the Amazon, the compact mirror in Jay Cee
’s office, and the mirror a nurse hands her at the city hospital illustrates Esther’s slipping grasp on her own identity, which is profoundly distorted by her suicidal depression. At the peak of her depression, Esther relies on this slippage to make suicide easier, thinking that she if she watched the reflection of herself slitting her wrists in a mirror (rather than looking at her actual wrists), she would be able to go through with the task. At the same time, the description of a mirror as “a silver hole” suggests that, to some extent, all images of identity are false, more a projection by the viewer than a revelation of essential truth.