The Bluest Eye

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

The Bluest Eye
BluestEye.JPG
First edition
AuthorToni Morrison
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
PublisherHolt, Rinehart and Winston
Publication date
1970
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages224 pp (Hardcover edition)
ISBNISBN 978-0-375-41155-7 (Hardcover edition)
OCLC808600872
 
Jump to: navigation, search
The Bluest Eye
BluestEye.JPG
First edition
AuthorToni Morrison
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
PublisherHolt, Rinehart and Winston
Publication date
1970
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages224 pp (Hardcover edition)
ISBNISBN 978-0-375-41155-7 (Hardcover edition)
OCLC808600872

The Bluest Eye is a 1970 novel by American author Toni Morrison. It is Morrison's first novel and was written while she was teaching at Howard University and raising her two sons on her own.[1] The story is about a year in the life of a young black girl named Pecola who develops an inferiority complex due to her eye color and skin appearance. It is set in Lorain, Ohio, against the backdrop of America's Midwest during the years following the Great Depression. The point-of-view switches between the perspective of Claudia MacTeer as a child and an adult, and a third-person omniscient viewpoint. Because of the controversial nature of the book, which deals with racism, incest, and child molestation, there have been numerous attempts to ban it from schools and libraries.[2]

Plot[edit]

The novel is alternately narrated in first-person by Claudia MacTeer and in third-person omniscient, focusing on various other characters. Nine-year-old Claudia and her 10-year-old sister, Frieda, live in Lorain, Ohio with their parents, who take two other people into their home: Mr. Henry, a tenant, and Pecola Breedlove, a temporary foster child whose house was burned down by her wildly unstable father, who is widely gossiped about in the community. Pecola is a quiet, passive young girl with a hard life, whose parents are constantly fighting, both verbally and physically. Pecola is continually being reminded of what an "ugly" girl she is, fueling her desire to be white with blue eyes.

Another motif in the novel is the contrast between the world shown through cinema and the one in which Pauline is a servant, between White Anglo-Saxon Protestant society and the existence the main characters live in. Most chapters' titles are extracts from the Dick and Jane paragraph in the novel's prologue, presenting a white family that may be contrasted with Pecola's; perhaps to incite discomfort, the chapter titles contain much sudden repetition of words or phrases, many cut-off words, and no interword separations.

One day, while Pecola is doing dishes, her intoxicated father rapes her. His motives are unclear, seemingly a combination of both love and hate. Her father flees after the second time he rapes Pecola, leaving her pregnant. Claudia and Frieda are the only two in the community that hope for Pecola's child to survive. Consequently, they give up the money they had been saving to buy a bicycle, instead planting marigold seeds with the superstitious belief that if the flowers bloom, Pecola's baby will live. The marigolds never bloom, and Pecola's child, who is born prematurely, dies. Near the novel's end, a dialogue is presented between two sides of Pecola's own imagination, in which she indicates strangely positive feelings about her rape by her father. In this internal conversation, Pecola speaks as though her wish has been granted: she believes that she now has blue eyes. Claudia, as narrator a final time, describes the recent phenomenon of Pecola's insanity and suggests that her father (who has since died) may have shown Pecola the only love he could by raping her. Claudia lastly laments on her belief that the whole community, herself included, have used Pecola as a sort of scapegoat to make themselves feel prettier and happier.

Characters[edit]

Background[edit]

Toni Morrison began writing The Bluest Eye in a writing group she joined while teaching at Howard University. She said it was “fun with colleagues. But then they stopped letting us bring in ‘high school essays,’ etc.; so I would have to write something new.”[3] There, she wrote a passage that was later incorporated into the novel. When Morrison moved to Syracuse, New York, she would work on the novel in the evenings.

Morrison commented on her motivations to write the novel, saying, “I felt compelled to write this mostly because in the 1960s, black male authors published powerful, aggressive, revolutionary fiction or nonfiction, and they had positive racially uplifting redirect with them that were stimulating and I thought they would skip over something and thought no one would remember that it wasn't always beautiful, how hurtful racism is. I wrote The Bluest Eye because someone would actually be apologetic about the fact that their skin was so dark and how when I was a kid, we called each other names but we didn't think it was serious, that you could take it in, so the book was about taking it in, before we all decide that we are all beautiful, and have always been beautiful; I wanted to speak on the behalf of those who didn't catch that right away. I was deeply concerned about the feelings of being ugly.”[3]

Adaptations[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ Dreifus, Claudia (September 11, 1994). "Chloe Wofford Talks about Toni Morrison". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  2. ^ Staff, Time (October 2, 2007). The Bluest Eye Top 10 Book Controversies Time Magazine. Retrieved November 24, 2012
  3. ^ a b http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8Zgu2hrs2k

Bibliography