Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

When Leroy asks Norma Jean if her behavior is a result of the women’s movement, she tells him not to be silly. Ironically, Norma Jean has been affected more than she knows by feminist ideas and images of women in the media. Leroy compares her to the television character Wonder Woman. Influenced by advertising, she eats “Body Buddies” cereal. Although Norma Jean does not begin lifting weights until after she observes Leroy’s physical therapy, she has seen articles about bodybuilding in magazines sold at the drugstore where she works. She identifies with the film star Marilyn Monroe, whose real name was also Norma Jean. Like many women influenced by feminism, she is taking night courses and planning to leave her husband.

Leroy has also been influenced by the media. One of his pastimes is needlepoint, a practice popularized for men by media coverage when football player Rosey Grier begins doing it. Influenced by television, Leroy makes a Star Trek pillow cover, and he tries to remember if it was on Phil Donahue’s show where he heard that losing a child generally destroys a marriage. Leroy is becoming aware that he should not believe everything that he sees on television or reads. When Randy died suddenly, Leroy was told that it just happens sometimes. Leroy observes that now scientists believe crib death is caused by a virus. Nobody knows anything, he thinks.

Norma Jean’s identification with Marilyn Monroe has ominous implications....

(The entire section is 543 words.)


(Short Stories for Students)

The American Dream
For most people, the American Dream is the belief that if one works hard and long enough, one will achieve...

(The entire section is 912 words.)