60 pages 2 hours read

Joyce Carol Oates

Blonde: A Novel

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2000

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Character Analysis

Norma Jeane Baker

Content Warning: Sexual assault and sexualization occur frequently throughout the novel. In addition, derogatory terms for women are used, and suicide, drug abuse, alcoholism, and abortion are presented.

Norma Jeane Baker is Oates’s fictionalized version of the historical Norma Jeane Baker and the protagonist of the novel. She is a tragic character, as Baker is primarily presented as a victim in the novel. In her earliest years, she is first the victim of inadequate parenting, as her mother acts chaotically and fails to give her daughter stability and safety. Throughout her teenage years, she is often pursued sexually by many boys and men because of her developing body. Throughout the rest of her life, Norma Jeane is a victim of both the film industry as well as many of her various lovers. Both groups of men seek to use her body for their own gain while ignoring key aspects of her humanity.

Despite the ways in which Norma Jeane is cast as a victim in her life, she does not readily take on the role for herself. Rather, she seeks to carve something real out for herself at the same time that she struggles to actually accept the personhood of herself.