60 pages 2 hours read

Joyce Carol Oates

Blonde: A Novel

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2000

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Symbols & Motifs


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.

Eddy G and Cass refer to Norma Jeane as Fish occasionally throughout their relationship, and she has also overheard Otto referring to a woman, possibly her, as a Fish. Cass will not tell Norma Jeane what this phrase means, likely because he knows it is hurtful. While the term is used derogatorily in different ways in American culture, Eddy G tells her that Fish refers to her being a woman. He tells her that she cannot help it and that it refers to a stink inherent in women. He goes on to tell her that even men can be Fish if they are splayed out. 

This description of the term comes after Norma contemplates the sex that she has with the two that is frequently painful, and she does not understand the appeal of this type of sex for these men. In these ways, the nickname Fish symbolizes the disrespect many people in Hollywood have for Norma Jeane and for women in general. Norma Jeane is the particular person being exploited, but that is because she has physical characteristics and a neediness that is able to be exploited.