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message 1: by Diane (last edited Jan 03, 2018 06:35AM) (new)

Diane Zwang | 1246 comments Mod
1. Elsie states “It's a man's world and to survive a woman must betray her own kind”. What do you make of this turn of events in Norma Jeane's life?

2. What do you think of Norma Jeane calling Bucky Daddy? He calling her Baby-Doll? Terms of endearment or much more?

3. “Bucky laughed; suddenly his sweet-tempered wife was a spitfire!” Though afterward realizing That was the beginning, I guess, that night.” What did Bucky mean by that?

4. The war changed everything. State how the war changed Bucky and Norma Jeane.

5. "I'm a model. I'm under contract at The Studio - where you used to work. I can make a living just being photographed. It's the easiest work in the world!" Is modeling a blessing or a curse for Norma Jeane?

6. The last few chapters the writing was devoid of punctuation and many words were abbreviated. What do you make of this writing style? What was the author trying to convey?

7. A star is born! The chapter ends with the creation of "Marilyn Monroe". Are you happy for her?


Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 894 comments I think you are looking for opinions, so I will give it a shot.

1. Elsie states “It's a man's world and to survive a woman must betray her own kind”. What do you make of this turn of events in Norma Jeane's life?

I think that many, many women think this way even today. I have often been in traditionally male dominated jobs and the women whom I worked alongside thought this way. They could be terrible to each other. I think it sets everyone up to fail. I think for Norma Jean it set her up to be more isolated, lonely and alone. She didn't trust anyone to be her friend.

2. What do you think of Norma Jeane calling Bucky Daddy? He calling her Baby-Doll? Terms of endearment or much more?

So much more. Norma Jeane was looking for a daddy figure. She never put herself on the same level as him -- and he didn't either. It wasn't a partnership of equals.

3. “Bucky laughed; suddenly his sweet-tempered wife was a spitfire!” Though afterward realizing That was the beginning, I guess, that night.” What did Bucky mean by that?

I think he saw it as the beginning of the end for their relationship. She suddenly was passionate and strong and not needing him. She was on her way to becoming Marilyn, but also on her way out of his life.


4. The war changed everything. State how the war changed Bucky and Norma Jeane.

I will have to think more about this one. I do believe he had PTSD and he became more internal. First they were separated by distance. And she started becoming more independent because she had to... so she wasnt so needy with him anymore. Then he came home and he didn't know how to deal with that, plus he had his own mind to deal with. When he was gone and all the guys were razzing him about her being a pinup... that seemed like a real turning point. He didn't like it.

5. "I'm a model. I'm under contract at The Studio - where you used to work. I can make a living just being photographed. It's the easiest work in the world!" Is modeling a blessing or a curse for Norma Jeane?

I think it was both. She wasn't seen for anything other than her appearance. And she didn't see herself as valuable for much more.

6. The last few chapters the writing was devoid of punctuation and many words were abbreviated. What do you make of this writing style? What was the author trying to convey?

I hated this... I generally do. But it can be effective. Faulkner does it all the time and it shows the frenzy of the situation. I think that is probably the same here.


7. A star is born! The chapter ends with the creation of "Marilyn Monroe". Are you happy for her?

I don't know. Probably not. I feel like fame was devastating to her. After that she never saw herself as important or interesting... she just had to be beautiful. Nothing more.


message 3: by Dree (new)

Dree | 243 comments So I have finished this section, and am enjoying this book much more than I expected to. I would never have picked it up til I got down to the last bits of the list (which per the app, I am too old to get to LOL!).

I have hangups with fiction that uses real people. I have never read (and am unlikely to read) an actual biography of Marilyn Monroe, but reading on Wikipedia it says her first husband was not Bucky Glazer, but he was in the war in some capacity. So this book is acting like the story of her life, but with all new facts? I find it creepy that the character calls Bucky "Daddy", but did Normal Jean Baker call her actual husband "daddy"? Or is this Oates projecting her thoughts on her fatherless life into a fake biography? I hate this, it makes my brain hurt, it pisses me off, and as a historian I find it a touch offensive. Write a novel, but make up people! Don't write a fake biography.

/rant off


message 4: by Diane (new)

Diane Zwang | 1246 comments Mod
Dree wrote: "So I have finished this section, and am enjoying this book much more than I expected to. I would never have picked it up til I got down to the last bits of the list (which per the app, I am too old..."

Hi Dree, I understand at the end of the book the author tells where she has taken liberties. I am reading on my Kindle and have not got there yet. I will keep my eye out and see if I can fact check her first husband. Wikipedia is not know for always being accurate, no one is fact checking Wikipedia. I think the author did an extensive amount of research for this book so I can't imagine she made up her first husband but I could be wrong. Thanks for commenting.


message 5: by Dree (new)

Dree | 243 comments Diane wrote: "Dree wrote: "So I have finished this section, and am enjoying this book much more than I expected to. I would never have picked it up til I got down to the last bits of the list (which per the app,..."

I know wikipedia is not the best, but it is also very very different on what I felt were a lot of important points in her early life. (It has also been the same content for days now, I know sometimes people change things and then others change it back and it turns into a whole THING; and MM has a lot of over-the-top fans who probably check it daily lol). I feel like now I'm going to have to read a real biography, but who can you believe? I would be liking this book a lot if it were real fiction.

Her first husband could very well still be alive, which could be one reason to change his name? And his parents names? It's just all so weird and makes me very uncomfortable. I don't even like fiction about long-deceased real people, this one is really bothering me!

Also, any disclaimer should be at the of beginning of the book! Especially a book this long--how many people start and then give up?


message 6: by Diane (new)

Diane Zwang | 1246 comments Mod
Dree wrote: "Diane wrote: "Dree wrote: "So I have finished this section, and am enjoying this book much more than I expected to. I would never have picked it up til I got down to the last bits of the list (whic..."

Very good points, Dree. I am sorry you are not enjoying it so much.


message 7: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4108 comments Mod
1. Elsie states “It's a man's world and to survive a woman must betray her own kind”. What do you make of this turn of events in Norma Jeane's life?

Elsie dumped Norma Jean because she thought her husband was in danger of being lost to Elsie. She didn’t want that competition in the house.

2. What do you think of Norma Jeane calling Bucky Daddy? He calling her Baby-Doll? Terms of endearment or much more? I found it offensive. It is like she is a child and not really a woman in this relationship and it had such incestual overtones.

3. “Bucky laughed; suddenly his sweet-tempered wife was a spitfire!” Though afterward realizing That was the beginning, I guess, that night.” What did Bucky mean by that? The beginning of growing tired of her?

4. The war changed everything. State how the war changed Bucky and Norma Jeane.

Bucky wanted to be a part of the war. Norma Jean had wanted to be a part of the war but ended up a child bride. In the end, Norma Jean was able to work in a factory helping with the war effort.

5. "I'm a model. I'm under contract at The Studio - where you used to work. I can make a living just being photographed. It's the easiest work in the world!" Is modeling a blessing or a curse for Norma Jeane?

I think it was at least a way of making a living but it really was a curse.

6. The last few chapters the writing was devoid of punctuation and many words were abbreviated. What do you make of this writing style? What was the author trying to convey?

Life is speeding up, in a hurry, no time to put thoughts into words.


7. A star is born! The chapter ends with the creation of "Marilyn Monroe". Are you happy for her?

No!


message 8: by Kristel (last edited Jan 27, 2018 05:18PM) (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4108 comments Mod
My library book that I have here, I am reading on Kindle. Has the author note in front. It states “Blond is a radically distilled life in the form of fiction. And what ever this means “synecdoche is the principle of appropriation”. (I will need to look that up, after done here). Norma Jean lived in many foster homes but only one was explored and that one fictitious; in place of lovers, medical crisis, abortions, suicide attempts and screen performances, Blond only explores a selected, symbolic few.

The poems are invented except for Help Help.

“Biographical facts should be sought not in Blonde, which is not intended to be a historical document”.

Here’s an interesting commentary on fictionalization Marilyn Monroe; https://www.theguardian.com/books/200...


message 9: by Diane (new)

Diane Zwang | 1246 comments Mod
Kristel wrote: "My library book that I have here, I am reading on Kindle. Has the author note in front. It states “Blond is a radically distilled life in the form of fiction. And what ever this means “synecdoche i..."

Thanks for the article. Clearly the author did not like the book. I disagree with one point , that there is no sign here of her purported wit and intelligence. I think there are many signs of her intelligence a long the way in the book.


message 10: by Gail (new)

Gail (gailifer) | 1385 comments The article was helpful in formulating some of my reactions. At first I thought some of the italicized parts were “true” or at least supported by a researched source or even a quote from a source but that broke down very quickly. Oates use of third person for most of The Child turns into a plaid of third person, first person, and also Norma Jeane’s voice referring to herself using the third person in The Girl section. In this way we get another glance at the possible confusions of her mind. Certainly the confusions in her story. It does make me want to read a biography but I am enjoying the reading of this far also.


message 11: by Gail (new)

Gail (gailifer) | 1385 comments 1. Elsie states “It's a man's world and to survive a woman must betray her own kind”. What do you make of this turn of events in Norma Jeane's life?
I found the obituary for Norma Jeane's first husband. His name was James Dougherty and the obit is in the LA times. In it he says that they married to prevent her from going back to the County Home but also that her foster parents were moving and couldn't take her. I thought that it was interesting that Oates made Norma Jeane a person that was sexual at such a young age. She was someone that was threatening to Elsie's security at the age of 15. I think women often see other women as competitive with them and I suspect this was worse when women were more clearly defined by their physical characteristics. Hence the sense of having to betray your own kind. I think Elsie in the story really loved Norma Jeane, she just couldn't afford to have her around in case Warren did something to her, either physical or even just in his mind.

2. What do you think of Norma Jeane calling Bucky Daddy? He calling her Baby-Doll? Terms of endearment or much more?
Norma Jean clearly wanted a Daddy and never had one except for the Dark Prince. I think she was looking to Bucky to supply some of what she had missed out on. Bucky on the other hand just seems terribly immature and unable to think past what the Glazer family thought a wife should be, and he also had a desire to be seen as real big man in her eyes.

3. “Bucky laughed; suddenly his sweet-tempered wife was a spitfire!” Though afterward realizing That was the beginning, I guess, that night.” What did Bucky mean by that? There is a hint here that Norma Jeane would become defined by her sexuality but also as others have noted, it was the beginning of the end for them as a couple because the Daddy/Baby Doll dynamic was broken.

4. The war changed everything. State how the war changed Bucky and Norma Jeane.
Bucky went off to war to participate in the biggest rite of passage to manhood at that time. Norma Jeane finally was on her own. The funny thing was that really, her whole life she was on her own, but finally she didn't have anyone telling her who she should be nor did she have to act a certain way to get by, or get along, or be loved. It was very short lived. Once she joined the studio she had to act more than ever to get by, and/or be loved.

5. "I'm a model. I'm under contract at The Studio - where you used to work. I can make a living just being photographed. It's the easiest work in the world!" Is modeling a blessing or a curse for Norma Jeane? Both. It gives her a strong sense of power over her own destiny (plus better living conditions) but it also forced her to have to be constantly aware of how she looked and who she had to impress. Plus she couldn't be married.

6. The last few chapters the writing was devoid of punctuation and many words were abbreviated. What do you make of this writing style? What was the author trying to convey? I agree with Kristel. Life was getting a bit out of control.

7. A star is born! The chapter ends with the creation of "Marilyn Monroe". Are you happy for her?
Ah, I don't think that being a actress is totally bad for Marilyn, especially if the alternative was to go back to Bucky and only do the housework. On the other hand, the studio system was not build to make healthy, happy actors and actresses. It was an ugly system that made wonderful fantasies for the rest of the world...

reply | flag *


message 12: by Diane (new)

Diane Zwang | 1246 comments Mod
Gail wrote: "1. Elsie states “It's a man's world and to survive a woman must betray her own kind”. What do you make of this turn of events in Norma Jeane's life?
I found the obituary for Norma Jeane's first hus..."


Thanks for the added information in question number 1. Good to know.


message 13: by Book (new)

Book Wormy | 1985 comments Mod
Thanks for the article Kristel that was interesting. My edition had the notes at the front explaining about it being a work of fiction that said before this I had no real interest in Marilyn Monroe now I am tempted to read a biography.


message 14: by Book (new)

Book Wormy | 1985 comments Mod
1. Elsie states “It's a man's world and to survive a woman must betray her own kind”. What do you make of this turn of events in Norma Jeane's life?

Elsie betrayed Norma Jeane by getting her married of to Bucky to prevent her own husband from taking advantage of her either physically or mentally.

2. What do you think of Norma Jeane calling Bucky Daddy? He calling her Baby-Doll? Terms of endearment or much more?

I found it creepy and sinister.

3. “Bucky laughed; suddenly his sweet-tempered wife was a spitfire!” Though afterward realizing That was the beginning, I guess, that night.” What did Bucky mean by that?

I agree it was the beginning of the end and as this comment is made retrospectively it could also mean the beginning of Marilyn Monroe as a character.


4. The war changed everything. State how the war changed Bucky and Norma Jeane.

Norma Jeane no longer had to be an obedient wife with Bucky away she was able to go out and work and make a life for herself.

5. "I'm a model. I'm under contract at The Studio - where you used to work. I can make a living just being photographed. It's the easiest work in the world!" Is modeling a blessing or a curse for Norma Jeane?

That depends on what else she could have been doing, going back to Bucky would be worse however modelling does give everyone preconceptions about her and what she will and wont do.


6. The last few chapters the writing was devoid of punctuation and many words were abbreviated. What do you make of this writing style? What was the author trying to convey?

I think this shows how things picked up and life became frantic everything happening at once.


7. A star is born! The chapter ends with the creation of "Marilyn Monroe". Are you happy for her?

Knowing how things are going to end up can you really be happy for her? All I can say is I am happy that Norma Jeane is happy


message 15: by Tracy (last edited Mar 02, 2018 03:05PM) (new)

Tracy (tstan) | 558 comments 1. Elsie wants to get Norma Jeane out to keep her husband’s hands off of Norma Jeane. There is a hint that this has happened before with foster teenaged girls- Elsie says in this chapter that at least one girl has ended up pregnant and couldn’t name the father.

2. This ‘Daddy’ and ‘Baby’ thing creeps me out. Yuck. It was an indication that the relationship was doomed.

3. Part of Bucky’s attraction was that NJ was so tractable. When she showed a backbone, he realized she wasn’t as easy as he thought. Add to this his frustration with her being docile, and it seems to me he was too immature to be a husband.

4. I loved how she said she was no one’s daughter and would stand on her own.

5. The modeling was a blessing because it got her out of her unhappy marriage, and it got her career started. On the other hand, she died young, and Hollywood treated her like a dumb child and an easy woman.

6. This is her diary, I think. Her thoughts were scattered maybe because everything was moving so fast.

7. If this is what she really wants, I’m happy for her. I’m happy for all of us that Marilyn existed. She’s a legend.


message 16: by Tracy (new)

Tracy (tstan) | 558 comments Dree wrote: "Diane wrote: "Dree wrote: "So I have finished this section, and am enjoying this book much more than I expected to. I would never have picked it up til I got down to the last bits of the list (whic..."

Dree, I agree. I’m ok with a real person making a cameo in a novel, but this is bugging me. I wonder if the intent of the book is to make Marilyn a feminist icon, rather than a sex symbol. I guess I’ll have to finish to find out.


message 17: by Pip (new)

Pip | 1409 comments 1. It shows that Elsie is aware that she is sacrificing Norma Jeane to save her own marriage. It is shocking to us now to think that NJ was practically forced into marriage at such an early age.
2. I thinbk most marriages have their own vocabulary. Oates uses these endearments to emphasise the inequality of the relationship.
3. Bucky began to realise that NJ had a mind of her own. She had been careful not to antagonise Bucky by showing that she was smarter than he was, but she was realising that this was so.
4. Bucky had the awful experiences of war which changed him, but for NJ, the war gave her the opportunity and the desire to be independent. Bucky had boasted about his hot wife, sharing intimate photos with his workmates, with little care for how NJ herself would react if she knew. She did not realise how exploitative he was until later.
5. Modelling got her started on her career, but those early photos dogged her all her life as an example of how she was manipulated and how physical beauty was valued and the individual who possesses such beauty was not.
6. I assumed this was a fascimile of what NJ's diary might have been like.
7. She really had been brainwashed as a child that this would be the ultimate fulfillment of a dream. We know how it ended!


message 18: by Dree (new)

Dree | 243 comments Tracy wrote: "Dree wrote: "Diane wrote: "Dree wrote: "So I have finished this section, and am enjoying this book much more than I expected to. I would never have picked it up til I got down to the last bits of t..."

Glad I'm not alone! I just finished and I still don't get the point of her doing this. I now feel like I need to read some MM biographies to clear my head. But honestly I don't much want to, but I don't like the confusion I am left with, so I may need to.


message 19: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4108 comments Mod
Dree wrote: "Tracy wrote: "Dree wrote: "Diane wrote: "Dree wrote: "So I have finished this section, and am enjoying this book much more than I expected to. I would never have picked it up til I got down to the ..."

I think reading Wikipedia might be enough to kind of help with knowing what is basically considered facts.


message 20: by Dree (new)

Dree | 243 comments Kristel wrote: "Dree wrote: "Tracy wrote: "Dree wrote: "Diane wrote: "Dree wrote: "So I have finished this section, and am enjoying this book much more than I expected to. I would never have picked it up til I got..."

Ha! Earlier in this thread when I said I looked at Wikipedia, Diane said Wikipedia is not reliable (and I know it isn't for real research). But I have actually been in ancestry looking at her tree. For example, Grandma Della actually died when Norma Jean was not quite 15 months old (though Della did live in Venice). So I really just don't get why Oates would use that character as an influence during Baker's formative years--when she clearly was not and could not be. And honestly, it seems like NOT having that grandma figure would play more to what seems like Oates' agenda with this book.


message 21: by Dree (new)

Dree | 243 comments Diane wrote: "I understand at the end of the book the author tells where she has taken liberties"

I finally found this in my copy. It was small type on the copyright info page, and was quite brief, and included "this is not a biography". To which I would respond: "then don't use real people, including people who have close descendants still alive!"

But my copy is back at the library because it was due today and I could not renew it again. I read the last 90 pages today LOL.


message 22: by Jenni (new)

Jenni (sprainedbrain) | 71 comments 1. Elsie states “It's a man's world and to survive a woman must betray her own kind”. What do you make of this turn of events in Norma Jeane's life? Elsie is aware that she's forcing Norma Jean into a marriage just to benefit herself. I thought this was very sad... she was so young and to be just forced on a boy to get out the system is sad.

2. What do you think of Norma Jeane calling Bucky Daddy? He calling her Baby-Doll? Terms of endearment or much more? I think they are terms of endearment, but they are yucky...especially the Daddy.

3. “Bucky laughed; suddenly his sweet-tempered wife was a spitfire!” Though afterward realizing That was the beginning, I guess, that night.” What did Bucky mean by that? He's starting to realize that Norma Jean does have a will of her own and is smarter than he thought.

4. The war changed everything. State how the war changed Bucky and Norma Jeane. Norma Jean went out on her own and was no longer dependent on Bucky.

5. "I'm a model. I'm under contract at The Studio - where you used to work. I can make a living just being photographed. It's the easiest work in the world!" Is modeling a blessing or a curse for Norma Jeane? It seems to have been both - she wouldn't have gotten her start if she hadn't been discovered in her modeling shots, but the nude pictures haunted her career.

6. The last few chapters the writing was devoid of punctuation and many words were abbreviated. What do you make of this writing style? What was the author trying to convey? I also took this to be Norma Jean's diary or stream of consciousness.

7. A star is born! The chapter ends with the creation of "Marilyn Monroe". Are you happy for her? It's hard to be happy, considering what happened to her to get there. However, this is clearly what she wanted, so...


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