Normal People by Sally Rooney charts the relationship between Marianne and Connell, two friends from Carricklea, Ireland.
At the beginning of the novel, the friendship between Marianne and Connell begins to develop when Connell regularly picks up his mother from her job working as a housekeeper for Marianne’s family. Although he is attracted to Marianne, Connell is worried about openly dating her, as she is the school outcast. He is concerned about what his friends will say and what their relationship will do to his reputation. He and Marianne decide to keep their relationship a secret, and still afraid to let his peers know about them, Connell asks another girl to go to the school dance. It is not long after this that the relationship between him and Marianne ends.
When school is finished and the summer is over, Marianne and Connell start their studies at Trinity College, Dublin. While Marianne is popular there, Connell does not make many friends and does not feel like he fits in. However, after meeting each other again at a party, their relationship blossoms once more. This time they do not keep it a secret. When Connell loses his job and needs to return home, he does not tell Marianne at first, but when he does, he says that they should split up and start to see other people.
When Marianne returns home for her father’s anniversary mass, she bumps into Connell, who says he would like to attend the mass with her. When they return to Dublin, Marianne starts to date a man called Jamie. Their relationship is a very unhappy one, as Jamie is emotionally and sexually abusive. Connell has started dating a girl named Helen. Despite their other relationships, Marianne and Connell cannot deny their feelings for one another.
It is when the pair go traveling with their friends and meet in Italy that they can no longer deny their feelings. Connell witnesses a violent argument between Marianne and Jamie and is forced to intervene. Following this, Marianne tells him the truth about her past and...
(The entire section is 530 words.)