60 pages 2 hours read

Joyce Carol Oates

Blonde: A Novel

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2000

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Essay Topics


Oates tells Norma Jeane’s story from multiple points of view. Examine some of these various points of view, and explain why you think Oates narrates from these perspectives. Consider some of the large players in Norma Jeane’s life, such as Bucky, as well as minor players, such as her poetry-course classmates. Why were these people chosen at times to narrate the story? How does this differ from Norma Jeane’s narration?


The novel is broken down into five different parts. Explore each of these parts in depth, and explain key themes in each. What themes unite each part, and what themes persist throughout Norma Jeane’s life? Why do you think the last part is entitled “The Afterlife” even though she is alive?


This is a fictionalized account of the life of a real, historical person. Consider this fictionalization, and explore reasons why Oates might have chosen this perspective. What freedoms does it allow her? What drawbacks does it have? What effect did it have on you as a reader, and how might a reader have responded differently to the book had it been more historically accurate?