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message 1: by Diane (last edited Jan 17, 2018 09:32PM) (new)

Diane Zwang | 1247 comments Mod
1. “I've been on a Calendar, but I've never been on time - Marilyn Monroe”. A quote my friend sent me. What memories if any do you have of the renowned calendar that made her famous and men rich.

2. “It was not the real name of any real person. But it was the role I would play and I hoped I would play it with pride.” “M-marilyn' is only a career. She hasn't any 'well-being'”. What do you think of this dual personality developing?

3. The Lover, Cass (Charlie Chaplin, Jr.) “He knows I'm not 'Marilyn.' He calls me Norma. He's the only one who understands me.” What do you think of Cass? Good, bad?

4. Marilyn seems to be on a path to destruction. What do you make on her decisions with men so far?

Movie trailer for Niagara. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046126/?...


message 2: by Pip (last edited Mar 06, 2018 05:13PM) (new)

Pip | 1410 comments 1. I don't think I have ever seen the calendar and I am not going to seek it out. The quote is an example of her wit.
2. I think that Marilyn actually took over Norma Jeane, but it was definitely a role that she played and played so very well.
3. Cass was a cad, but who hasn't fallen for one at some time? She felt he was her "twin" or soul mate until she found out he was bi-sexual. I presume that this ended their relationship, so the twin thing wasn't as real as she hoped.
4. It isn't only the decisions with men, although they are not great, she also is making destructive decisions about drug taking despite the emphasis on her horror of drugs when she was younger. It was prevalent in America at that time to take painkillers without thinking about the consequences. I wanted someone to advise her to go for a long run when she had period pains. She doesn't seem to have taken any exercise at all!
5. Curiosity got the better of me and I looked up the calendar shots. i can see that they would have been shocking and exploitative at the time, but they are really beautiful.


Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 894 comments 1. Never seen it and don't plan to.

2. I find it sad. I think she found it impossible to be Norma Jean even though she wanted to be her authentic self. Marilyn became bigger than life and it took over everything.

3. Charlie Chaplin was an ego-maniac and a player. He also didn't seem to be honest with her. It is too bad that he is the one who seemed to still see Norma Jean, she must have been so devastated to have it end.

4. I don't think she was ever taught to make decisions. Not about men. Not about fame. Not about drugs and alcohol. All of that must have been a big part of her eventual suicide.


message 4: by Gail (new)

Gail (gailifer) | 1389 comments I) I have seen the calendar in its photoshopped state, although I guess back then it wasn't called photoshop. However, she had on a baby doll black negligee. Of course, originally she was nude so the negligee was comped in afterward. I don't recall thinking anything other than that she was beautiful.
2) I think she started playing roles at a very young age. The role of the "good" daughter, the role of the teenage wife who was in love, the role of the ambitious model. Perhaps we all play roles but for her it seemed to be different in that she could really take on the character. She could fully live the character. Her fellow actors found it frightening.
3) Cass was a cad but I suspect that he was still good for both Marilyn and Norma Jean in some way. He could tell the difference between the two roles and could make both of them feel very special and loved at times. He also was someone she could understand in some strange way. He was her twin as well as her lover. The fact that he was using her for his own ends was something that he totally took for granted. You get the impression that he could love her and use her and not have that be a conflict within himself. In my mind that makes him pretty ugly.
4) In the book, she is slowly making all the wrong decisions in regards to health and stability (some of the right ones in terms of doing what it took to be a star) but you also get the idea that she didn't have a lot of help making any of the right ones. She doesn't seem to have any close girl friends. No real family. The men in her life that could have been protective or at least educating her, like her agent, just fall in love with "Marilyn" and only want what is best for themselves. Her lovers are largely bad influences and even V. who seems a bit more normal couldn't see her for who she was. He just wanted her to be something she was not.

Another question - why do you think that Oates spends so much time with her periods? Do you think that it is documented how bad they were or is that just Oates? Is it Oates' way of explaining the pain pills? Just curious. It isn't often that you read a lot about menstrual cycles in books.


message 5: by Diane (new)

Diane Zwang | 1247 comments Mod
Gail wrote: "I) I have seen the calendar in its photoshopped state, although I guess back then it wasn't called photoshop. However, she had on a baby doll black negligee. Of course, originally she was nude so t..."

Gail good question. I was wondering the same thing. She spent an awful lot of time on her reproductive cycle. Some where I read she had endometriosis but I forgot where. I am not sure I have an answer for it in the novel.


Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 894 comments Gail wrote: "I) I have seen the calendar in its photoshopped state, although I guess back then it wasn't called photoshop. However, she had on a baby doll black negligee. Of course, originally she was nude so t..."

I dont think the book answers any of this. I am guessing that Oates wanted to build empathy for Marilyn. It is clear to me that Oates is a fan.


message 7: by Diane (new)

Diane  | 2042 comments 1. “I've been on a Calendar, but I've never been on time - Marilyn Monroe”. A quote my friend sent me. What memories if any do you have of the renowned calendar that made her famous and men rich.

I haven't seen the calendar.

2. “It was not the real name of any real person. But it was the role I would play and I hoped I would play it with pride.” “M-marilyn' is only a career. She hasn't any 'well-being'”. What do you think of this dual personality developing?

The dual personality seemed more defined to me in the beginning. As time went on, sweet, naive Norma Jeane disappeared inside of Marilyn's Hollywood persona. It was an act at first, but she eventually assumed the role full-time, This is also reflected in her acting roles, where she became the part she was playing.

3. The Lover, Cass (Charlie Chaplin, Jr.) “He knows I'm not 'Marilyn.' He calls me Norma. He's the only one who understands me.” What do you think of Cass? Good, bad?

Cass was a mess. He was immature and irresponsible. I think he caused more harm than good, since he was the first to get her to take the prescription drugs that she would eventually abuse.

4. Marilyn seems to be on a path to destruction. What do you make on her decisions with men so far?

It almost seems that she was searching for the father figure missing in her life. She had no family or true friends to speak of. Men paid attention to her because of her looks and she latched on to these relationships due to the attention they gave her, probably since she had no other normal or healthy relationships in her life. She tended to gravitate to men who would use her for their own purposes.


message 8: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4113 comments Mod
1. I don’t remember ever seeing the calendar but I do remember the shot of Marilyn standing over a vent with her skirt blowing up. Marilyn in poses with busts bursting with cleavage. Her smile. I, for one, was never enameled with Marilyn and other than the connection with the Kennedy’s, I don’t have that many memories.
2. Identity. I seems like she is trying to hold on to the identity of Norma but much of that identity is painful and traumatic. She is really being forced into the identity of Marilyn because no one wants to know Norma. Except those, like Cass, who maybe wanted to keep her “in her place”. In her acting, Norma had to become that role unlike other actors and actresses. She used her life and memories to become those parts.
3. I didn’t like Cass and felt that he was using Norma like every one else used her and that his ego wasn’t able to allow Norma to be more successful that she was. They probably and a lot in common, too which made them “twins”.
4. Yes, she is on a path of destruction, but we know she is. We know the end. We know that she is not making the correct decisions about men because she is seeking a father not a partner.


message 9: by Book (new)

Book Wormy | 1989 comments Mod
1. “I've been on a Calendar, but I've never been on time - Marilyn Monroe”. A quote my friend sent me. What memories if any do you have of the renowned calendar that made her famous and men rich.

I have never seen it and like Kristel the one picture I remember is the skirt blowing one. I love the quote though.

2. “It was not the real name of any real person. But it was the role I would play and I hoped I would play it with pride.” “M-marilyn' is only a career. She hasn't any 'well-being'”. What do you think of this dual personality developing?

As the others have said NJ has always had a dual personality depending on who she was with at the time, I think she spent a lot of her life acting to get by and eventually it became second nature.


3. The Lover, Cass (Charlie Chaplin, Jr.) “He knows I'm not 'Marilyn.' He calls me Norma. He's the only one who understands me.” What do you think of Cass? Good, bad?

Overall he is bad for her but at times he gives her what she needs, someone who understands she is 2 people and who loves both of those people. When they become the Gemini that was kind of icky and of course the use of drugs is not good.

4. Marilyn seems to be on a path to destruction. What do you make on her decisions with men so far?

I agree with the others she is looking for a father and not a lover so she will always be disappointed.

Thanks for the trailer link that is not how I imagined the film at all.


message 10: by Book (new)

Book Wormy | 1989 comments Mod
I am not sure about all the focus on periods and period pains, perhaps it is leading to a conclusion that PMT or something similar had an impact on her mental well being leading to suicide?


message 11: by Book (new)

Book Wormy | 1989 comments Mod
I have a question what do you think Oates is saying about the sexual and the sexually exploitative nature of Hollywood?

A lot of what is happening to NJ seems relevant to the #metoo campaign and the Harvey Weinstein (sp?) case. How far did NJ have to go to get her career break?


message 12: by Jenni (new)

Jenni (sprainedbrain) | 71 comments 1. “I've been on a Calendar, but I've never been on time - Marilyn Monroe”. A quote my friend sent me. What memories if any do you have of the renowned calendar that made her famous and men rich. Marilyn was well before my time, so what I know of her was just the legend, really. I hadn't heard of the calendar until this book, and the wiki searches that reading it has led to. :)

2. “It was not the real name of any real person. But it was the role I would play and I hoped I would play it with pride.” “M-marilyn' is only a career. She hasn't any 'well-being'”. What do you think of this dual personality developing? I will echo some others above - to me it seems she always had a dual personality, although it's getting much more obvious as the story goes on.

3. The Lover, Cass (Charlie Chaplin, Jr.) “He knows I'm not 'Marilyn.' He calls me Norma. He's the only one who understands me.” What do you think of Cass? Good, bad? I'm not sure - clearly they care about each other, but he's leading her in all the wrong directions.

4. Marilyn seems to be on a path to destruction. What do you make on her decisions with men so far? they make me sad - she's clearly not going to find what she really wants.


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