Marilyn Oates Three Girls Analysis

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In “Three Girls,” Oates uses the two NYU girl poets and Marilyn Monroe to display issues of society’s view of women during the 1950’s. The reader will be introduced to two girl poets in Strand Used Books, searching for their desired book as they routinely do. Both girl poets will later find themselves witnessing Marilyn Monroe in disguise. The reader may be led to interpret that this could have been Marilyn Monroe’s truest self and not what she was popularized for in media. The three girls will find that they all desire to break the barriers of society. The two girl poets and Monroe experience difficulty becoming comfortable with who they are due to desiring to challenge society’s view of their appearance, sexuality, and identity.
Society
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The three girls had a struggle with their identity. The two girl poets did not want to be seen as foolish, simple-minded girls, but intelligent girls who shared a love for books or what they would call “treasures” (92). While the two girl poets stalked Marilyn Monroe they found that she too shared a love for books as well. Marilyn Monroe “wiped her nose on the edge of her hand” (93) as she was reading poetry. The reader can interpret that Marilyn Monroe is deeply immersed in what she was reading. It can be seen as a surprise because hardly anyone would believe that blonde sex-symbol would be in a book store. Marilyn Monroe, perhaps, was an intelligent young woman that was suppressed by the image Hollywood branded her with. One may find it very hypocritical when the girl poets fell for the “silly clichés of Hollywood romance” (93), expecting a man to accompany Marilyn Monroe in Strand Used Books. The girl poets appeared to follow the Hollywood propaganda surrounding Marilyn Monroe and forgetting that Marilyn Monroe possessed an identity of her own apart from Hollywood.
Society plays a major role in “Three Girls”. Society is seen as the villain in this story because it somehow suppresses the three girl’s fullest potential and their truest selves. The three girls, seemingly, cannot express themselves because society is not prepared for such a feat. It can be assumed that the three girls return to

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