Reading 1001 discussion

17 views
Archives > Questions

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Diane (new)

Diane Zwang | 1214 comments Mod
Questions from Reading Group Guides.

1. "For always there was the Fair Princess. For always the Dark Prince," writes Joyce Carol Oates on the first page of the chapter entitled "The Kiss." Who is Norma Jean's Dark Prince? Her true love? Her father? Death? Do you think that romance fiction and movies have led women to hope for a prince to fulfill their dreams? If so, what might be the consequences of expecting that . . . and what were they for Norma Jeane?

2. Joyce Carol Oates didn't give names to some characters, such as the Ex-Athlete and the Playwright. Why? Who are some of the other unnamed characters? Especially, who is the Sharpshooter? Do you think that his role in Marilyn's death is metaphorical . . . or is Joyce Carol Oates joining those who suggest that Marilyn Monroe was murdered?

3. Norma Jean as Marilyn Monroe has been called a mythic character -- or perhaps more accurately a cultural icon. What attributes made her a symbol? Are those qualities still idolized today?

4. Was Norma Jean promiscuous or a nymphomaniac, as some people charged? What would you say about her sexual experiences? Can you build a case that what she nearly always experienced was rape, not consensual sex?

5. Can you speculate why the author found this woman so compelling? What do you think makes Norma Jean/Marilyn Monroe such a fertile subject for fiction and nonfiction, film and print, even decades after her death?


message 2: by Tracy (new)

Tracy (tstan) | 557 comments Question 2: I wonder if it’s because there are still family members who wouldn’t let her use names. Her first husband’s name was changed, too.
Question 3: Her beauty, and her ability to act. She was also an enigma- anyone who married Arthur Miller had to be smart, and I think it takes a smart person to play dumb! there was so much more than sex appeal- women love her, too.
Question 5: I think Oates was trying to make Marilyn a feminist symbol- though I’m not in very far yet, so this thought is incomplete. I’m not thrilled about novelizing someone’s life, but the writing is good, and I want to see where she’s going with this.


message 3: by Book (new)

Book Wormy | 1922 comments Mod
1. "For always there was the Fair Princess. For always the Dark Prince," writes Joyce Carol Oates on the first page of the chapter entitled "The Kiss." Who is Norma Jean's Dark Prince? Her true love? Her father? Death? Do you think that romance fiction and movies have led women to hope for a prince to fulfill their dreams? If so, what might be the consequences of expecting that . . . and what were they for Norma Jeane?

The dark Prince is any man in her life who NJ thinks can save her. I think nowadays girls are wiser and know not to rely on men to save them. The consequences for NJ were that she was never fully secure in who she was and she needed someone to rely on, someone who adored her.

2. Joyce Carol Oates didn't give names to some characters, such as the Ex-Athlete and the Playwright. Why? Who are some of the other unnamed characters? Especially, who is the Sharpshooter? Do you think that his role in Marilyn's death is metaphorical . . . or is Joyce Carol Oates joining those who suggest that Marilyn Monroe was murdered?

From the ending I think she was joining the conspiracy theorists. I didn't actually like the ending as she had done such a good job in showing how NJ was self destructive and falling apart and then the Sharp Shooter just seemed thrown in for no real reason.


3. Norma Jean as Marilyn Monroe has been called a mythic character -- or perhaps more accurately a cultural icon. What attributes made her a symbol? Are those qualities still idolized today?

She was beautiful and talented and died before she could fade away, she was also self destructive and very much in the public eye a modern equivalent for me would be Amy Winehouse and yes I do think these qualities are still idolised.


4. Was Norma Jean promiscuous or a nymphomaniac, as some people charged? What would you say about her sexual experiences? Can you build a case that what she nearly always experienced was rape, not consensual sex?

It is mentioned several times that NJ doesn't actually enjoy sex, she ends up using it as a commodity what happened to her in my mind was closer to rape than consensual sex as she felt she had no choice if she wanted to succeed.


5. Can you speculate why the author found this woman so compelling? What do you think makes Norma Jean/Marilyn Monroe such a fertile subject for fiction and nonfiction, film and print, even decades after her death?

Her life is fascinating a real rags to riches and back again tale.


back to top