Blonde Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Blonde

Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates is a fictionalized depiction of the life of Marilyn Monroe. It tells the story of Norma Jeane Baker, a woman born to an unwed mother in 1926 who, after being taken into custody by her grandmother and eventually finding work as a pin up model, becomes the famed starlet immortalized today.
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Norma is raised by her grandmother, Della Monroe, after her own mother, Gladys, is unable. Though Della is an alcoholic, she takes care of Norma to the best of her ability. Gladys becomes ill from inhaling toxic chemicals at work and is hospitalized when Norma turns eight. Della dies as well and, soon after Norma is forced to enter the foster care system, being sent to live with a couple named Elsie and Warren Pirig in Los Angeles where her career will take soon enough take root.

Though the Pirig's send Norma to high school, she drops out at age fifteen. Since her foster parents are planning to move and can't take Norma with them, they convince her to marry a 21 year old man named Bucky Glazer. Bucky is a congenial fellow who excelled in sports and goes on to join the military. When WWII begins and he is enlisted, he joins the marines. Norma meanwhile, in what will signal the first steps of her career, begins working for the Radioplane Munitions Factory, which provided low cost aircraft during the war. While there, Norma begins posing for a series of photographs by a military photographer, holding various airplane parts. Though she doesn't know it at the time, it would launch her career as a pinup model. She ends up going into that business and posing for various publications. In 1946 she divorces Bucky, and at the age of 21 gets her first part in a film. It is during that time that Norma is given a new name by an executor that secures her his first contract. He suggests she call herself Marilyn Monroe.

Soon after this, Monroe begins a relationship with a man named Cass Chaplin. He is the son of a famous comedian, and, in addition to Monroe, becomes the lover of a man named Eddy G. The three of them refer to themselves as the Gemeni, and in the process Monroe is impregnated by one of the men. Though she doesn't know whether it was brought about by Cass or Eddy, she aborts the child and ends up leaving the two behind.

Monroe begins to grow in fame, playing in films like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, and Some Like it Hot. She ends up attracting marrying who is referred to in the book as the famous ex-baseball player, but in reality is meant to be Joe DiMaggio. But the marriage doesn't last long due to the famous ex-baseball player's serial jealousy and Monroe's rigorous work schedule. She begins to take her anxieties to the screen, and her reputation suffers from appearing ragged. Her pill consumption, which she begins at the time, renders her unable to adhere to solid work schedules.

In the final pages of the book, Monroe, tired of being paid a low salary for years to be overworked by the film industry, ends up getting a better pay grade. She meets who Oates refers to as the Playright in the book, but who in reality is the great author Arthur Miller. Miller divorces his wife to marry Monroe. They themselves divorce five years later, but her last film, The Misfits, has Miller's name on the bill. Monroe herself is found dead in her bed on August 5, 1962, on suspicion of drug overdose, and leaves behind a thrilling, if tragic legacy of growing up during wartime America to become the biggest sex symbol on the planet.
Best part of story, including ending: It's Marilyn Monroe! She lived a fascinating life, and Joyce did a great job fictionalizing it.

Best scene in story: I like her entire courtship with Bucky Glazer. I feel like it's the most honest moment in the book.

The review of this Book prepared by Samuel Sattin a Level 3 Eurasian Jay scholar

This is a fictionalized version of the life of Marilyn Monroe as imagined by Joyce Carol Oates, America's premier woman of letters. It follows Monroe from her life as an abandoned child in California through her achievement as the world's biggest sex symbol. This is a great read for Marilyn fans who are used to reading the usual biographies. Oates deals with her subject with accute sensitivity and imagination, and you feel like you're right in the head of this tragic star.
The review of this Book prepared by Darina Milovanovich

This is an unusual account of Marilyn Monroes's life, combining fictional aspects with verifiable facts.Oates includes Marilyn's thoughts and feelings, as she rose to the top of her profession, leaving 3 failed marriages in her wake. The stream of conciousness is quite unusual.
The review of this Book prepared by celan

"Blonde" is the fictionalized story of Marilyn Monroe. The author uses a unique method of writing to give an emotional, sympathetic and almost truthful point of view of the actresses struggles in her life.
The review of this Book prepared by Amanda Goodwin

Chapter Analysis of Blonde

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   depressed Time/era of story    -   1930's-1950's Life of a profession:    -   actor Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Job/Profession/Status story    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   actor/actress/producer Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American) Unusual characteristics:    -   Super sensitive soggy jelly muffin


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   1 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Pacific NW    -   California

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   descript of kissing    -   actual description of hetero sex Amount of dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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Joyce Carol Oates Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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