60 pages 2 hours read

Joyce Carol Oates

Blonde: A Novel

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2000

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Norma Jeane’s Struggle to Find an Identity

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.

The world knows Norma Jeane as Marilyn Monroe, and this is true for a large part of the novel. This identity never feels authentic to her, and from the beginning of her life until the end, she struggles to determine who she really is. At the beginning of the novel, Norma Jeane seeks this identity in maternal and paternal figures. Norma Jeane tries to identify and associate with mother figures and to figure out who her father is. At one point in the novel, it is mentioned that she and her mother were so close that they were like they were one person. Norma Jeane accepts this identity as strongly as her mother does, and because her mother hates herself, this self-hatred is passed onto Norma Jeane. Still, she is the only parent she has, and she accepts this identity and this projected hatred of self. 

Throughout the novel, she continues to try to define herself through her relationships, and she does this primarily through casting people as father figures. When she marries Bucky, she believes she has become a real person and has discovered who she is now that she is a wife and hopefully eventually a mother.