Ms. Marvel:No Normal — Close Reading

“It’s like having completely a new sense. It’s not sight or taste or touch– it’s something much weirder.”

“Something almost–

inhuman

“But being someone else isn’t liberating

it’s exhausting

“I always thought that if I had amazing hair, if I could pull off great boots, if I could fly–

–that would make me feel strong. That I would feel happy.”

“But the hair gets in my face, the boots pinch…

…and this leotard is giving me an epic wedgie.”

“What made me happy…”

“What made me happy was seeing Zoe take a breath of air. Even though she makes everyone feel like crap…”

“I’m glad I was there. I’m glad she lived.”

In this scene, Kamala was just given special abilities by Captain Marvel, Captain America, and Ironman. The illustrations show that the fog is still clearing from the panels, demonstrating that there is still this sense of confusion in the air. Also Kamala is shown almost identical to Captain Marvel, aside from a slight costume change. However, instead of being excited and happy about her newfound abilities, or as Kamala calls it “a new sense,” she is depicted showing feelings of sadness and confusion. I believe that relates directly to what she explains in this scene. Kamala believed that is she could be strong and beautiful with great hair and great boots she would feel amazing and unstoppable, but instead she realizes that by being someone you are not can be extremely “exhausting.”

I believe that the bolded words in this scene serve a very important purpose. I read the bolded words as if Kamala was questioning what they actually meant, for example when she says in the first line, “It’s like having completely a new sense. It’s not sight or taste or touch– it’s something much weirder,” I believe sense and weirder are setting the tone of confusion and they help the reader understand that Kamala doesn’t quite know what is happening to her yet and she does not know what the future will hold for her and her new abilities. The rest of the bolded words in this passage, seem to also emphasize the idea that all of these things that she thought she wanted, great hair, great boots, a nice costume, isn’t what really matters. The one event that really matter in this scene is that she was able to save Zoe from drowning. When Kamala was able to save Zoe it put all of these materialistic things out of her mind and she saw and much more potential she had.

One more interesting thing I found in this passage, mainly about the illustration, was that Kamala looked identical to Captain Marvel, including her skin color. I found this interesting because Kamala says on a different page, “Zoe thought that because I snuck out, it was okay for her to make fun of my family. Like Kamala’s finally seen the light and kicked the dumb inferior brown people and their rules to the curb.” Kamala obviously loves her family but she knows that compared to everyone else, she is different because of her skin color and her religious views. But when she asks Captain Marvel to be like her, and her skin was changed, I feel as if part of her identity and background was stripped away from her, which was apart of the reason she felt so strange and exhausted. Soon she will come to see that it’s okay for her to stand up for what she believes in and that there really is “No Normal” when it comes to race, religion, and her background.

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12 thoughts on “Ms. Marvel:No Normal — Close Reading

  1. I think that your post goes perfectly with what Captain Marvel says to Kamala as she is granting her wish. She warns her that what she is wishing for will not result in the ways that she is imagining. Initially, the reader may think that she is referring to the responsibilities that Kamala will have to deal with once she has gained super powers. But, later on, it is clear that Captain Marvel is referring to the exact conflict that Kamala ends up facing. It is not the powers specifically that she is having a difficult time acclimating herself to, but the sense of who she is and what it means to be Kamala.

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  2. I really enjoyed that you highlighted the portion of Kamala’s transformation, I found it interesting how the narrative completely changed her appearance from dark skin brown hair to white and blonde hair. This instance can show how much Kamala personally wants to change within herself, it could be foreshadowing in the aspect that she believes she has to be all these things to be accepted within her community and with her fellow peers.
    -Nicole Crippen

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  3. The idea of identity and acceptance are two major themes in this novel because Kamala wishes to be anyone except herself, especially one who is the typical teenager. She dreams to be “pretty” with blonde hair, to go out to parties with guys and be normal and fit in with the rest of the girls. She despises the fact that she has so many rules compared to other people and that her religious beliefs and the food that she eats sets her apart. This scene is meant to show that trying to be someone else is exhausting and not worth it because its easier to be the best person one can be rather than pretending to be someone else.
    -Vennela Gadde

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  4. I like your observation on how the fog signifies confusion in the scene. It’s strange that she feels confused or sad about her new sense, because like in the block quote you chose, she should be happy if she can pull off “the amazing hair and great boots”. I like this analogy because sometimes one could look put together and well kept on the outside, but you feel differently on the inside, like in Kamala’s case. You pick up many key points in regards to confusion that I did not really notice. I agree with you when you say a part of her was stripped when her skin color was changed, she became less unique and less of an individual.

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  5. I liked the passage you chose because it highlighted a major issue that Kamala has in her desire to be “normal”. From what was seen so far she lives in a predominantly white part of Jersey City, so she most likely associate normality with being white. Add in the fact that the Avengers, who she admires greatly, are all white and, the idea that she would want to be “normal”, aka white, would not be that surprising. The passage however shows the difficulty of trying to be something your aren’t, how uncomfortable and draining it is. I’m looking forward to seeing how Kamala will deal with her knew powers, and with her sense of identity now that she can transform herself to look the way she thinks she wants.

    -Justin Wright

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  6. I found this passage very interesting in that we see Kamala’s struggle to define herself. “But being someone else isn’t liberating, it’s exhausting” she is not only confused, but frustrated because even though she wanted superpowers she extends her concern for zoe. also, the fact that she is a muslim superhero is atypical from your traditional white superhero. This idea of diversity relates to anyone in todays society who feels out of place in standard traditions

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  7. I agree with your analysis of the paragraph. I also thought that the bolded words served a purpose of highlighting Kamala’s confusion with her new “identity.” This is relatable to the audience as well, as people who try to be someone they are not sometimes makes them feel lost and befuddled. Always staying true to yourself is an important lesson that each individual in society should follow, as the sometimes unforeseen consequences occur. As you mentioned, her desire to be normal like the rest of society stripped her background away from her, contributing to her detachment of her genuine identity. People should not live a different way and should embrace their eccentricity, especially since it’s the 21st century.

    Nicole Schmalz

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  8. I appreciate that you brought up Kamala’s physical transformation–not only does her skin become white and her hair blonde, but if you look very closely her eyes turn blue as well. Kamala’s transformation into this idyll of American herodom makes her profoundly uncomfortable–it’s what she thought she wanted, but now that she’s attained it, the costume feels like a lie. Certainly this is meant to call attention to the ways in which our own society encourages people with non-normative bodies, practices, families, &c. to draw themselves closer to the mainstream, and the alienating nature of this process.

    I also think it’s interesting to contrast the way Kamala handles her transformation with the way Hank handles his. When Hank’s mother first fashions his costume, he is tremendously uncomfortable with its overt Chinese symbolism, and only finds rest once, by the end of the story, he has fully assimilated into and adopted a more traditional image as an American super hero.

    -Patrick Gibson

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  9. I think that this is a great scene to highlight. As you alluded to in your blog post, it’s really telling how Kamala starts off by briefly talking about how weird it is having her new abilities, but then quickly goes on to identify the much bigger issue: trying to be someone she isn’t. For Kamala, the biggest disconnect isn’t her powers, but the way she is physically transformed, both with the costume and the skin color and hair. Kamala realizes that none of that is her, and that the only part she actually liked was helping Zoe. This is a great turning point for Kamala in the comic in figuring out who she is as a superhero and as a person.

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  10. I liked the focus on her finally realizing that this power is not so much empowering as it is exhausting. How we see think super heroes make everything they do look easy. But it is harder than it looks to 1. be someone you are not (or atleast not used to) and 2. have people rely on your to help them when in reality, you’re also trying to help yourself. Kamala made herself a very relatable character in this scene because she proves that she may look like being super is easy, but it is also, as she says, inhuman, confusing and probably very stressful

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  11. I really like this scene because embodies her typical human worries – matching her hair with her boots, couple with her new super powers. I think that scenes like this really help outline and give background to who Ms. Marvel was and is before her newly found superhero persona. Typically in many superhero stories we are given a basic outline of what their life was before without giving us insight into what they were like as a person. Great analysis!

    -John Sieg

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