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message 1: by Diane (last edited Jan 02, 2018 07:25PM) (new)

Diane Zwang | 1210 comments Mod
1. What do you think of Gladys and Della?
2. Gladys names her daughter after which two famous women? Do you recognize how she develops her stage name?
3. The Santa Ana winds and the infamous California fires are mentioned several times. What does it mean? How about current times?
4. The "Dark Prince" is first mentioned, who do you think it is?
5. Norma Jeane did not have an idyllic childhood. Final thoughts on this portion of her life.


message 2: by Diane (new)

Diane Zwang | 1210 comments Mod
1. Della is the quintessential grandmother. She stepped up when her daughter failed. Gladys is a very troubled woman who needs help.
3. I live in California and I am very familiar with the Santa Ana winds. With the recent devastating fires I was surprised to read how little has changed over the years. I think the firestorms represent the volatility of Gladys.


Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 894 comments 1. Gladys makes me so sad. She is a needy human with no real ability to parent. Della, luckily, seemed to be better able to be a solid force in Norma Jean's life.

2. I am not sure I understand this question.

3. I live in the Colorado Mountains. We get chinook winds and have forest fires every year. Two of them evacuated me in 2012 and 2013. It is interesting to see how this is just an ongoing cycle.

4. I am not sure I think it is actually a real person... more like Hollywood is the Dark Prince. But that could be completely wrong.

5. I think having so much turbulence in her early life probably created a very insecure, naive and needy woman. I am sure that it probably fed her depression. Marilyn always seemed like a very sad person to me. Of course that is hindsight -- knowing how her life ended.


message 4: by Diane (new)

Diane Zwang | 1210 comments Mod
Kelly wrote: "1. Gladys makes me so sad. She is a needy human with no real ability to parent. Della, luckily, seemed to be better able to be a solid force in Norma Jean's life.

2. I am not sure I understand thi..."


I re-wrote question 2. I hope that helps. Thanks for the feedback.


Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 894 comments Diane wrote: "Kelly wrote: "1. Gladys makes me so sad. She is a needy human with no real ability to parent. Della, luckily, seemed to be better able to be a solid force in Norma Jean's life.

2. I am not sure I ..."


Thanks!

2. I believe her stage name was picked by her first manager. And if I recall correctly Monroe was her mother's maiden name, but I don't know how they picked Marilyn. Her birth name, I don't recall where it came from. I guess I need to pay better attention. :)


message 6: by Pip (last edited Jan 24, 2018 09:30PM) (new)

Pip | 1342 comments Gladys was a mess and Norma Jeane should not have been in her care - not that her foster parents were much better! Della did her best, although it was not a very good best!

Norma Jeane was named after Norma Shearer and Jean Harlow. As a little girl Norma Jeane was exposed to the mystique of the movie star her mother aspired to be. Monroe was her mother's maiden name. I suppose that 'Marilyn' was chosen for alliteration.

I thought the unpredictability of forest fires and their destructiveness was a device to emphasise the same qualities in Gladys.

The Dark Prince is the avatar to the Fair Princess, and Marilyn Monroe was the Fair Princess. The Dark Prince is the hero in all the movies although the plot lines vary, but there was always a Dark Prince. When Norma Jeane sees an actor at a street theatre she recognises him as the universal Dark Prince. Or is the Dark Prince Death?

Norma Jeane had a deplorable childhood. Her grandmother was inadequate, her mother dangerous and unfit to be a parent. Her foster parents were problematic and she spent time in an orphanage. She could not be blamed for feeling unloved and unlovable.


message 7: by Diane (new)

Diane Zwang | 1210 comments Mod
Pip wrote: "Gladys was a mess and Norma Jeane should not have been in her care - not that her foster parents were much better! Della did her best, although it was not a very good best!

Norma Jeane was named a..."


Pip, I like your thoughts on the Dark Prince. I had not thought of Death but I think that is good insight.


message 8: by Gail (new)

Gail (gailifer) | 1241 comments 1. What do you think of Gladys and Della?
Well, as others have mentioned, neither one of them should have had the responsibility for a child. However, I believed that Della was doing her best and even Gladys in her illness may have been doing what she thought was best. However, clearly she lived partially in a fantasy that was not capable of discerning the harsh realities of the life she shared with Norma Jeane. The fact that she could not do what was best for her daughter layers a deep sadness over the whole book so far.
2. Gladys names her daughter after which two famous women? Do you recognize how she develops her stage name? Not yet. I understand about Norma Shearer and Jean Harlow and I also understand about Monroe but I haven't glimpsed a reason for Marilyn other than it sounds nice with Monroe.
3. The Santa Ana winds and the infamous California fires are mentioned several times. What does it mean? How about current times? Clearly the current fires reflect how we have pushed development into areas never meant to be settled by humans. LA's city water comes from 100's of miles away. The winds and the fires have been happening forever but they have been made worse by humans attempting to control conditions that we can not control or worse control badly. In the book, I think the fires reflect this control, lack of control and out of control nature of their lives.
4. The "Dark Prince" is first mentioned, who do you think it is? Pip mentioned Death but in much ancient Christian religious mythology the Dark Prince is the devil. However, so far I am seeing him only as the compliment to Fair Princess. So far he has turned out to be just slightly off....a bit too old, a bit too overdressed. He hasn't been evil in any way yet.
5. Norma Jeane did not have an idyllic childhood. Final thoughts on this portion of her life.
As I mentioned above, the overriding emotion after reading this section was sadness. She seemed such a naturally happy child who could not get the love she craved. Often a difficult childhood can make a young person bitter and tough, but with her, it just made her more needy for anything good and secure - even if that security was a rag doll.

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message 9: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 3896 comments Mod
1. What do you think of Gladys and Della? I liked Grandmother. This mother and daughter combo is quite common, at least for me, it my practice. There are so many grandmother’s, grandparents raising their grandchildren.

2. Gladys names her daughter after which two famous women? Do you recognize how she develops her stage name? Jean Harlow and Norma Talmadge. Her stage name is Marilyn Monroe? I thought, is this a different question?

3. The Santa Ana winds and the infamous California fires are mentioned several times. What does it mean? How about current times? I hadn’t thought about what it meant but the fires coincide with Gladys’s mental illness flare ups. I did appreciate the explanation of the fires putting into perspective recent events of the fires.

4. The "Dark Prince" is first mentioned, who do you think it is? I think of the dark prince as the unseen man, the unknown father and the man that will rescue Norma Jean. Prince Charming.

5. Norma Jeane did not have an idyllic childhood. Final thoughts on this portion of her life. Norma Jean’s childhood is sad, unstable mother, no father, grandmother and grandfather die, orphanage and foster homes. So sad.


message 10: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 3896 comments Mod
Pip wrote: "Gladys was a mess and Norma Jeane should not have been in her care - not that her foster parents were much better! Della did her best, although it was not a very good best!

Norma Jeane was named a..."

Oh, good thoughts. I think the dark prince could be death. Totally makes sense.


message 11: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 3896 comments Mod
Thoughts on question #2. Marilyn’s stage name is not yet revealed. But in thought, the girl never had her own personality, she was always someone else. Some actress that her mother loved more than she loved her own daughter. She didn’t even get to have a last name that identified her as anyone. She is just what other people decide she is and that is how she gets her stage name. Other people decide who she is. She did get to finally have her mother’s last name.


message 12: by Diane (new)

Diane Zwang | 1210 comments Mod
Kristel wrote: "1. What do you think of Gladys and Della? I liked Grandmother. This mother and daughter combo is quite common, at least for me, it my practice. There are so many grandmother’s, grandparents raising..."

Kristel, I thought the dark prince was the unknown father in this section too.


message 13: by Tatjana (new)

Tatjana JP | 277 comments Diane wrote: "Kristel wrote: "1. What do you think of Gladys and Della? I liked Grandmother. This mother and daughter combo is quite common, at least for me, it my practice. There are so many grandmother’s, gran..."

I just started reading this first part and I was thinking that Dark Prince could be her dark side, something hidden inside her, maybe destructive or negative to this obvious Fair Princess to the outside world.


message 14: by Diane (new)

Diane Zwang | 1210 comments Mod
Tatjana wrote: "Diane wrote: "Kristel wrote: "1. What do you think of Gladys and Della? I liked Grandmother. This mother and daughter combo is quite common, at least for me, it my practice. There are so many grand..."

Tatjana, I like your thoughts on the Dark Prince.


message 15: by Gail (new)

Gail (gailifer) | 1241 comments I like that viewpoint also.


message 16: by Diane (last edited Feb 03, 2018 08:41AM) (new)

Diane | 1997 comments 1. What do you think of Gladys and Della?

Gladys, Norma Jeane's birth mother was a real mess. She was not capable of being a fit mother. She made a lot of poor choices in her life. I really felt sorry for her. I felt that she might have been typical of many struggling actresses/workers in Hollywood during that time period.

Della tried her best to raise Norma Jeane, despite her poor health. She was probably trying not to make some of the mistakes she felt she made in raising her mother. She wasn't perfect, but was more of a mother figure than Gladys.


2. Gladys names her daughter after which two famous women? Do you recognize how she develops her stage name?

Norma Shearer and Jeane Harlow. I was familiar with Harlow, but not Shearer. Monroe was a family name (Della's last name and Mom's maiden name). The surnames Mortensen and Baker probably weren't viewed by her as valid last names since they were the names of her mother's estranged husbands and not the surname of her natural father. It was considered taboo for children to receive their mother's maiden name (or the name of a father out of wedlock) at that time since it was considered blatant evidence of illegitimacy, so they would often get the name of the mother's latest husband. I didn't see in the book (yet) about origin of the name Marilyn. I had read somewhere that the name was given to her talent scout, who was fond of the actress Marilyn Miller.

3. The Santa Ana winds and the infamous California fires are mentioned several times. What does it mean? How about current times?

Winds come and go. I think the people most important to Norma Jean came and went like the winds. The fires represented the element of danger and volatility, also present in these relationships.

4. The "Dark Prince" is first mentioned, who do you think it is?

I think Oates used this as a means to compare the story to that of a fairy tale, since she mentioned that every story had a fair princess and a dark prince. Obviously, Norma Jeane was the fair princess. The Dark Prince may have represented one or more men in her life. I can see how this could also be death, as previously mentioned. I typically have thought of the "Dark Prince" in other contexts either as a dark force representing evil (i.e. Satan) or someone shrouded in mystery (i.e. Batman). I am seeing more of the mysterious aspect and less of the evil, so far.

5. Norma Jeane did not have an idyllic childhood. Final thoughts on this portion of her life.

Gladys was a poor maternal figure who had too many of her own problems to be a positive force in Norma Jeane's life. Della, her grandmother, tried hard, but died too soon, basically leaving her an orphan. Dad was non-existent. She had to go into a orphanage that was less than optimal and had a less than wonderful foster experience. There was very little stability or permanence seen in her childhood and some poor role models.


message 17: by Book (new)

Book Wormy | 1845 comments Mod
1. What do you think of Gladys and Della? I feel sorry for both women. Della was trying her best to raise Norma Jeane but I get the impression she wasn't well enough to be able to do a great job. Gladys obviously had issued probably related to drink and drugs although it could also be the poisonous chemicals she worked with. At times she really wanted to be a good mother she just wasn't strong enough to do it.

2. Gladys names her daughter after which two famous women? Do you recognize how she develops her stage name? At this stage in the story I have no idea about the Marilyn but the Monroe is her mothers maiden name.

3. The Santa Ana winds and the infamous California fires are mentioned several times. What does it mean? How about current times? I am lucky to live in England where I have never experienced anything like this sure we get droughts but widespread wildfires now. Like others have mentioned I think the fires are like Gladys' flare ups, dangerous and unpredictable.

4. The "Dark Prince" is first mentioned, who do you think it is? I get the impression he is her absent father as well as the men in her mothers life, also the actor who ends up with the Princess. He appears to just be a symbol of the men in her life.

5. Norma Jeane did not have an idyllic childhood. Final thoughts on this portion of her life. This section is so sad I felt really sorry for her I wished her mother had the strength of love to let her go and be adopted but then where would she have ended up and would it have been any better. Norma Jeane reminded me of an abused animal desperate for affection from anyone and willing to do whatever was needed to keep that affection.

I am looking forward to the next section.


message 18: by Diane (new)

Diane Zwang | 1210 comments Mod
Book wrote: "1. What do you think of Gladys and Della? I feel sorry for both women. Della was trying her best to raise Norma Jeane but I get the impression she wasn't well enough to be able to do a great job. ..."

Book, I am glad that you are enjoying the novel. I liked her childhood also.


message 19: by Tracy (new)

Tracy (tstan) | 559 comments I don’t have anything to add, other than Norma Jeane had a lousy childhood.


message 20: by Jenni (new)

Jenni (sprainedbrain) | 71 comments I’m late to the book... just finally started this week. Other have thoroughly answered the questions above. I agree that Norma Jean had a sad, difficult childhood. I think Della tried her best to raise her, but her health didn’t allow it. Gladys didn’t seem to want to parent except on special occasions, and when Della died and she was forced to, it was clear she didn’t want the responsibility. So sad to read as she descends into mental illness and Norma Jean is left alone.


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