The Bluest Eye

The Bluest Eye

by Toni Morrison

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

New York Times Bestseller

Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl, prays every day for beauty. Mocked by other children for the dark skin, curly hair, and brown eyes that set her apart, she yearns for normalcy, for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to finally fit in.Yet as her dream grows more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison’s virtuosic first novel asks powerful questions about race, class, and gender with the subtlety and grace that have always characterized her writing.

"You can't go wrong by reading or re-reading the collected works of Toni Morrison. BelovedSong of Solomon, The Bluest EyeSula, everything else — they're transcendent, all of them. You’ll be glad you read them."—Barack Obama

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307278449
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/08/2007
Series: Oprah's Book Club Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 811
Product dimensions: 5.28(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.58(d)
Lexile: 920L (what's this?)

About the Author

Toni Morrison is the author of eleven novels, from The Bluest Eye (1970) to God Help the Child (2015). She received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and in 1993 she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. She died in 2019.

Hometown:

Princeton, New Jersey, and Manhattan

Date of Birth:

February 18, 1931

Date of Death:

August 5, 2019

Place of Birth:

Lorain, Ohio

Place of Death:

New York

Education:

Howard University, B.A. in English, 1953; Cornell, M.A., 1955

Read an Excerpt

Nuns go by as quiet as lust, and drunken men and sober eyes sing in the lobby of the Greek hotel. Rosemary Villanucci, our next-door friend who lives above her father's cafe, sits in a 1939 Buick eating bread and butter. She rolls down the window to tell my sister Frieda and me that we can't come in. We stare at her, wanting her bread, but more than that wanting to poke the arrogance out of her eyes and smash the pride of ownership that curls her chewing mouth. When she comes out of the car we will beat her up, make red marks on her white skin, and she will cry and ask us do we want her to pull her pants down. We will say no. We don't know what we should feel or do if she does, but whenever she asks us, we know she is offering us something precious and that our own pride must be asserted by refusing to accept.


School has started, and Frieda and I get new brown stockings and cod-liver oil. Grown-ups talk in tired, edgy voices about Zick's Coal Company and take us along in the evening to the railroad tracks where we fill burlap sacks with the tiny pieces of coal lying about. Later we walk home, glancing back to see the great carloads of slag being dumped, red hot and smoking, into the ravine that skirts the steel mill. The dying fire lights the sky with a dull orange glow. Frieda and I lag behind, staring at the patch of color surrounded by black. It is impossible not to feel a shiver when our feet leave the gravel path and sink into the dead grass in the field.


Our house is old, cold, and green. At night a kerosene lamp lights one large room. The others are braced in darkness, peopled by roaches and mice. Adults do not talk to us — they give us directions. They issue orders without providing information. When we trip and fall down they glance at us; if we cut or bruise ourselves, they ask us are we crazy. When we catch colds, they shake their heads in disgust at our lack of consideration. How, they ask us, do you expect anybody to get anything done if you all are sick? We cannot answer them. Our illness is treated with contempt, foul Black Draught, and castor oil that blunts our minds.


When, on a day after a trip to collect coal, I cough once, loudly, through bronchial tubes already packed tight with phlegm, my mother frowns. "Great Jesus. Get on in that bed. How many times do I have to tell you to wear something on your head? You must be the biggest fool in this town. Frieda? Get some rags and stuff that window."


Frieda restuffs the window. I trudge off to bed, full of guilt and self-pity. I lie down in my underwear, the metal in the black garters hurts my legs, but I do not take them off, because it is too cold to lie stockingless. It takes a long time for my body to heat its place in the bed. Once I have generated a silhouette of warmth, I dare not move, for there is a cold place one-half inch in any direction. No one speaks to me or asks how I feel. In an hour or two my mother comes. Her hands are large and rough, and when she rubs the Vicks salve on my chest, I am rigid with pain. She takes two fingers' full of it at a time, and massages my chest until I am faint. Just when I think I will tip over into a scream, she scoops out a little of the salve on her forefinger and puts it in my mouth, telling me to swallow. A hot flannel is wrapped about my neck and chest. I am covered up with heavy quilts and ordered to sweat, which I do, promptly.


Later I throw up, and my mother says, "What did you puke on the bed clothes for? Don't you have sense enough to hold your head out the bed? Now, look what you did. You think I got time for nothing but washing up your puke?"


The puke swaddles down the pillow onto the sheet — green-gray, with flecks of orange. It moves like the insides of an uncooked egg. Stubbornly clinging to its own mass, refusing to break up and be removed. How, I wonder, can it be so neat and nasty at the same time?


My mother's voice drones on. She is not talking to me. She is talking to the puke, but she is calling it my name: Claudia. She wipes it up as best she can and puts a scratchy towel over the large wet place. I lie down again. The rags have fallen from the window crack, and the air is cold. I dare not call her back and am reluctant to leave my warmth. My mother's anger humiliates me; her words chafe my cheeks, and I am crying. I do not know that she is not angry at me, but at my sickness. I believe she despises my weakness for letting the sickness "take holt." By and by I will not get sick; I will refuse to. But for now I am crying. I know I am making more snot, but I can't stop.


My sister comes in. Her eyes are full of sorrow. She sings to me: "When the deep purple falls over sleepy garden walls, someone thinks of me. . . ." I doze, thinking of plums, walls, and "someone."


But was it really like that? As painful as I remember? Only mildly. Or rather, it was a productive and fructifying pain. Love, thick and dark as Alaga syrup, eased up into that cracked window. I could smell it — taste it — sweet, musty, with an edge of wintergreen in its base — everywhere in that house. It stuck, along with my tongue, to the frosted windowpanes. It coated my chest, along with the salve, and when the flannel came undone in my sleep, the clear, sharp curves of air outlined its presence on my throat. And in the night, when my coughing was dry and tough, feet padded into the room, hands repinned the flannel, readjusted the quilt, and rested a moment on my forehead. So when I think of autumn, I think of somebody with hands who does not want me to die.

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The Bluest Eye (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 402 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great piece in American literature. What I'm having a difficult time with is why there are so many young 'adults' complaining about the violent/graphic nature of the book. It amazes me that a fantastic, socially concious piece of literature, is considered to be offensive for being sexually graphic, especially when our culture is saturated with sex and violence. What bothers me, even more than critically unjustifiable opinions, is that teens are completely caught off guard by sexual and violent material that doesnt contain slap-stick humor and apple pies. This book may be 'graphic', but it isnt gratuitous. If you're focusing so much on the 'graphic' content, you've completely missed the point that Morrison was trying to make.
lesia_trayonna2012 More than 1 year ago
Toni Morrison's spectacular, mind blowing, phenomenal classic, is an eye opening realistic adventure about people who hoped and dreamed for something huge to change their life; something to make them bigger, better, stronger, more powerful, and above everybody else. This book was splendid. It was descriptive, and suspenseful. It tells the story of a young girl's inexhaustible journey to feel beautiful, her courage to want more than anybody else like her has ever had, and the will to do it at any cost. Little Pecola Breedlove's one and only marvel is to have blue eyes so she will be loved, not just any common blue eyes.the bluest. She comes from a broken family, her father is an alcoholic, her mother is distant, and her brother runs away often. Cholly, her father, never knew his mother or father, and was raised by an aunt until she died. He was found having sex for the first time by two white men and was greatly embarrassed. When he goes on a search for his father, he was frightened, for the man was greatly uncouth. Paulina, her mother, had an ugly foot due to stepping on a nail when she was younger, causing her to have a permanent limp. No person has every paid attention to her. Pecola's family is the talk of the town; people find their misery an entertaining story. Pecola believes she is ugly, and every one else thinks so to, and wants to be like Shirley Temple because she believes she is beautiful; beautiful because she has blue eyes. Pecola's father tried to burn their house down, so she temporarily visits her only friends Claudia and Frieda MacTeer. That is just the beginning for young Pecola, one day Cholly returns home and finds Pecola washing dishes and he rapes her; therefore Pecola becomes pregnant. Her mother does not believe that Cholly raped her and almost beats her to death. Nobody wants and/or expects her baby to live, nobody except Claudia and Frieda. Claudia and Frieda plant Marigolds, and if they grow Pecola will have her baby. During that time Pecola goes to see a man name Soaphead Church, he is known to work miracles; her only request is the bluest eyes. His only response is "'I am not a magician.' 'If He wants your wish is granted, He will do it.'". Toni Morrison has an interesting way of bringing out Pecola's role; she is very opinionated for instance she says "They fight this battle all the way to the grave. The laugh that is a little too loud; the enunciation a little too round; the gesture a little too serious." She was speaking of her neighbors, and she doesn't think they are the best looking and/or the best behaved people in the world. Which is surprisingly ironic, because neither is Pecola. Morrison is also very descriptive, even when simply describing a dog "The dog was mangy; his exhausted eyes ran with a sea-green matter around which gnats and flies clustered." And "The dog gagged, his mouth chomping the air, and promptly fell down. He tried to raise himself, could not, tried again and half-fell down the steps. Choking, stumbling, he moved like a broken toy around the yard." I highly recommend this book for anyone, not only does it touch basis with a lot of issues that occur to this very day, it tells a story; a story of how a young girl even yearns to be treasured, cared for, and to incorporate. A story of how anybody will passionately go after what they desire.
Nitzan More than 1 year ago
This is a short book but is very heavy. You cannot read through it in one sitting because the content of each chapter just hits you in the gut. It is defiantly not a light read but is very touching. Great for book clubs because there is so much to talk about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book a long time ago when i was younger and i couldnt put it down. The story is so deep and it really pulls at your heart strings. The main little girl is such a sad character and you find yourself wondering why yet understanding why she wants things to be different so badly. Toni Morrison is a wonderful author and this book was not only well written but also a sad, touching and beautiful novel that should be bought, read, and shared
danzchikk18 More than 1 year ago
The Bluest Eye was a fantastic portrayal of what life was like for black children growing up, as well as families in poverty, and how abuse can affect so many people. It used multiple characters to explain the differences in lifestyle and personalities, and it used different seasons to describe the changes the family as well as the world around them begins to change. Although this is a controversial book because of the incest, rape, and child molestation, I think the author chose to include these as important aspects of the story as a representation of the pain and horrific suffering of Pecola as she grows up in a rough homelife. In addition, I think Ms. Morrison chose to write this book to symbolize the common lifestyle during the Great Depression, and the poverty and struggled features that accompanied the tragic times. She also wanted to prove that segregation was wrong and no race should dominate, and she showed this in a unique way by explaining through Pecola that "blue eyes and white faces" would make one pure and superior to all others. In this sense, I think "The Bluest Eye" is an excellent title choice, because this is basically what the novel is all about. (Race, Sacrifice, Dreams) I think the ending was very interesting, because Claudia and Freida use the marigolds in hopes that Pecola's baby will survive. This, like many other factors, contribute to the theme of beauty in the story, such as the "Dick and Jane" excerpts, (a white, happy family in a perfect world) the white porcelain doll and the Shirley Temple cup for Pecola, and the obvious favoritism that follows the light-skinned in the community. It was a good way to sum up the themes and main ideas found in the novel, as well as the characters' lives after one full year. The most exciting part of the book for me was definitely the part where Freida and Claudia stand up for Pecola while Maureen Peal is tormenting her for seeing her father naked. Before this point in the story, the two girls did not have too much to do with Pecola, she was just another child her parents took in kindheartedly. However, they really felt bad for Pecola, as well as hate and jealously towards Maureen, so they stand united and proceed to put up a fight. This was also probably the most interesting part of the book, because of the MacTeer girls' change in attitude. The style of Toni Morrison as seen in the novel is quite engaging, because she does not just give the reader answers, she rather leads the reader to make his or her own conclusions. I loved the way she used literary elements, mostly comparisons and themes, as well as the relationships and changes found in the characters. "The Bluest Eye" was an excellent way to see into the lives of a typical family during the Great Depression, and I would love to read more of her works.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Bluest Eye is a book about a girl named Pecola who is mocked by other children because she feels that she is ugly. She prays everyday for blue eyes because she believes that it will make her beautiful. The reason why she believes so is because when she was young for Christmas she, Claudia, and Frieda were given white toy dolls with curly hair and blue eyes. She always drank out of a Shirley Temple cup. Hearing everyone talk about Shirley and how cute she is made her believe that its the bIue eyes that makes her cute. Since she doesn't have this, she concludes that she is ugly which makes her pray for this. I think that this book is very well written. Toni Morrison makes the story in a way that you can make connections to your own life. The story makes you really think about what we think about race and class even if you don't want to admit it. While this story sounds like a very beautiful story, the violent rape of Pecola is the climax of the story. In the story, the characters seem to believe that white skin is beauty and purity. The themes in the story are innocence, madness, stereotypes and unconventional families. Toni Morrison writes this book with so much truthfulness and emotions that the book becomes poetry. Morrison also makes you realize the way you think about/of stereotypes even if you don't want to. I believe that Toni Morrison has written this book from some of her own history and background. What she believes herself or experienced, I think, were tied into The Bluest Eye.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was required to read this novel and write an essay about it, and at first, I thought, 'What a drag! Anything on a summer reading list should really stink.' I was quickly proved incorrect! As Toni Morrison's first novel, The Bluest Eye delves into some of the most serious topics surrounding our society. At first it was a little hard to understand, but I read it a second time in 5 days because it was so good! It does have some graphic scenes, so I do not recommend reading it for anyone under my age, unless it is a required read. Don't give this book a second thought: READ IT!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read this book several times. I will read it many more times.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The varying perspectives were interesting; although, reading from the point of view of a child molester was disturbing. I am not sure why this frequently appears on high school reading lists, for it is a mature read. If a reader enjoys this novel, I suggest the powerful Beloved: reading it haunted me for a long time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An extrraordinary work of fiction!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a tough read. It was my first book to read on the nook. I wanted to read this book because of the author's status, but was not what I expected. I wonder if it was difficult to read because it was on the nook and I could not flip back the pages to re read as easily as a regular book.
Nisha Washington More than 1 year ago
great book, very moving, pecola is a character you don't have to feel sorry for, but one everyone can relate to.
Michelle Johnson More than 1 year ago
perhaps one of the best authors of all time. This book gives a great introspective look on how African American viewed themselves after slavery.
km2692 More than 1 year ago
Nine-year-old Claudia and ten-year-old Frieda MacTeer live in Ohio with their hard working parents. Like most families during the time of the Great Depression, the girls' parents are struggling making ends meet. A young girl named Pecola is taken in by the MacTeer family because her father tried to burn down her house and he is sexually abusive. The more Claudia and Frieda spend time with Pecola, the more they begin to realize that she is obsessed with what society thinks of her, and deeply wishes that she had blue eyes like Shirley Temple. Pecola moves back in with her family, only to face mistreatment not only by her parents, but by children at school and adults in her neighborhood. Pecola's obsession with whiteness worsens, causing her to go insane and actually believe that she has the bluest eyes in the world. Claudia MacTeer is the narrator during certain parts of the novel. She does not care about judgment made about her because of her skin color. Claudia is a stubborn girl and rarely follows rules set in place by adults because she doesn't believe that adults should have control of children. Her sister Frieda is the opposite and is concerned about what other people think about her race. Frieda is aware of the realities of the society. Pecola Breedlove has low self-esteem and a lot of self-hatred built up inside her. Pecola is always thinking about being someone else, showing clearly that she wishes she could change who she was. Pecola's father, Cholly Breedlove, is obviously an awful person for the things he did to his daughter. He is completely self-absorbed and inflicts a lot of heartache on people he's close to constantly. Cholly is vulnerable because of his childhood. We ultimately learn that he has been through a lot of suffering himself. "It had occurred to Pecola some time ago that if her eyes, those eyes that held the pictures, and knew the sights-if those eyes of hers were different, that is to say, beautiful, she herself would be different." This quote is said by Claudia MacTeer, in chapter three of the "Autumn" section in the novel. I chose these lines because they express what the novel is mainly about. Claudia explains Pecola's struggle with self confidence. This quote shows Pecola's obsession with blue eyes, and how much she hates being herself. When Claudia says "those eyes that held the pictures and knew the sights", it really emphasizes that Pecola wishes her eyes, the parts of her that allow her to see the world around her, were different. I do not agree that people should feel less about themselves just because of the color of their skin or the color of their eyes. I like the way Tori Morrison wrote the book because she put the characters through strenuous situations, but made them all learn from them. Some people in the world can relate to the struggles, but thankfully I personally cannot. People have to deal with the hardships on a daily basis, making Morrison's novel come to life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MMiller While reading Toni Morrison's novel, THE BLUEST EYE, I was puzzled by the simple statement: beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Beauty has become something that seems everyone strives for. Beauty should not be characterized by what people are told it is, beauty is different for everyone, what is beautiful for you may be ugly to someone else. On an autumn morning in 1939, school has just started. While walking to school Claudia and Frieda MacTeer are harassed by their white neighbor. The little white girl is in her dad's car and shows the sisters the delicious food she is eating. Taunting is something the girls are used to so they keep walking. The MacTeers are getting a new boarder, Henry Washington. They will also be joined by Pecola Breedlove. She is temporarily in county custody because her father burned down the family's house. She is pitied because her father put his family on the streets. Claudia is confused on why everyone is in love with blue-eyed blonde baby dolls. She hates the one she received for Christmas. As the title indicates, this is a major issue in this novel. Claudia even goes as far as to take the baby doll apart to find where the beauty is located. Throughout the book, Morrison's characters pull themselves apart to try to find the beauty in their dark skin. The chapters in the story are broken up by seasons. Because the book is only about a year long, Morrison's work is really audience friendly. There is always something that one can relate to. There are friend issues, family issues, and image issues. Because there are characters of all ages and colors, the variety compliments each one of them. There are many twists in the novel. For example, in chapter 5 the girls meet Junior. He comes from a middle-class black family. The girls were in shock because it wasn't everyday they saw a well-off black family. We come to find out that Junior's mom only cares for the cat and he strikes out. He bullies kids on the playground and tricks Pecola into his home and killed the cat to make it look like Pecola did it. Ultimately, THE BLUEST EYE is a story of great power and courage. The beginning of the novel is really able to draw the reader's attengion. Some parts in the middle, some might say, are a little more on the "dry" side. I believe the readers who read the whole book will be very glad they did. Morrison makes her audience feel as though they are all powerful human beings. Morrison's words and characters give hope to anyone who winds up reading the novel-despite the troubles that her character's find throughout the whole book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Pecola Breedlove prays for blue eyes. As the main character and hapless victim in The Bluest Eye, Pecola is the heart, soul, and tragedy of the novel. Set during the early 1940's, The Bluest Eye is rich in language and has deep roots in symbolism. Toni Morrison, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, creates a powerful portrayal of a young African American girl who's desires often end in tragedy. Living in a society that sets the white culture on a pedestal only to leave the rest of society feeling forgotten, Pecola feels that she is very unattractive, and wishes to look like the towheaded, blue-eyed, porcelain skin babydolls she receives for Christmas. Obviously however, no matter how hard she prays, she doesn't get the blue eyes she so hopefully wishes for. Although Pecola's story is intricately weaved among other characters, each character gives their own meaning to Morrison's main message, which is that internalized racism destroys the spirit of the most vulnerable of victims, because when one internalizes external racism rather than rising above it, they lose their sense of self. The message also revolves around the pressure that society places on girls to be beautiful. Many of the events of this novel are often almost too hard to face head on the countless misfortunes Pecola must endure seem too harsh at times. Although not a light read, The Bluest Eye is a deeply significant and touching story of a young girl who takes too long to realize her true beauty, which ultimately results in her downfall.
Anonymous 1 days ago
This book is worth reading because of the incredible insight it provides into the devolution of success. Pecola, the main character followed by the narrator throughout the story can be seen constantly breaking down throughout the novel, a concept which defies the standard of growth within a story. Between her chaotic family, a cruel society, and resulting in a weakened self-concept, it seems that the main character is set up for anything except success. Born into an already splintered family was so chaotic that Pecola cannot understand what she is even supposed to be doing at times. With her father constantly in and out of jail or drunk, Pecola’s mother was forced to blame Pecola for some of the problems with the father, and in doing such, disassociated herself from the responsibility of being a motherly figure to Pecola. This is made clear when Pecola states that she couldn’t even call her own mother anything except Mrs. Breedlove ( 43). With how little her family cared where she was or what she was doing, Pecola was also desperate for someone to look up to in order to try and fill this void. No one wanted her, and most people, including at one point her foster family treated her poorly (24). Even further, once the foster family was no longer responsible for her Pecola ended up becoming “friends” with the prostitutes upstairs, as she learned if she did things for them like errands and gave them amusement that “ they, in turn, did not despise her”( 51) The unstable manner of her family and role models fails to allow Pecola an understanding of how to become confident and successful in the first place. The breaking down of her family in the public eyes causes Pecola to feel like she not only doesn’t belong in her own life but also in any one’s life. Society at this time, at a transitional period of the civil rights movement, was tense, to say the least. Social standards were constantly cracking as people attempt to break barriers, causing unease as stable homes and structures were threatened. In such, Pecola’s community can be seen rejecting her at every attempt to fit in and further break these types of barriers. Even at the candy store at one point in the book, a cashier was described as disgusted to have to touch her hand in taking her change. (page 50) Pecola, like many people, would be at such a response, was described as incredibly ashamed. Society showed her for the first time, but not the last, how she could not fit in even in the simplest of ways. In another circumstance, Pecola was invited into a home by a devious peer, only to be discovered by the mother of the household. “She looked at Pecola. Saw the dirty torn dress, plaits sticking out on her head, hair matted where the plaits had come undone, the muddy shoes with a wad of gum sticking out from underneath cheap soles, the soiled socks… ‘You nasty little black bitch. Get out of my house’”(92), Geraldine kicked her out and placed the blame on her without question. It is revealed to readers very early in the book, that Pecola, an innocent girl for most of the story, is a victim to rape and becomes pregnant during the happenings of the novel. This circumstance, which she could not control seemed to seal the community’s disassociation with her. “-after the baby came too soon and died. After the gossip and the slow wagging of heads, she was so sad to see. Grown people looked away; children, those who were not frightened by her, laughed outright” (page 204)
Anonymous 1 days ago
The Bluest Eye written by Toni Morrison is worth reading due to its unique look into the effects of abandonment on a young child. Through the character, Cholly, Morrison explores the id, ego, and superego of a man left to fend for himself at a young age. Firstly, Cholly’s id stems directly from the lack of a motherly figure in his life. Cholly greatly desires to feel wanted and loved. This strong feeling ultimately pushes him to pursue a country girl at a funeral. In an attempt to connect with a girl, Cholly again destroys his self esteem which leaves him feeling humiliated and used. “He hated, despised, the girl” (42). The constant pain Cholly associates with women invoke many outbreaks of aggression and rage. “Cholly commenced to getting meaner and meaner” (118). In general, Cholly’s relationship with the country girl directly reflects his overactive id that drives his intentions to extreme heights. On the other hand, Cholly does not have a strong superego and therefore, his morals are easily overruled. Because of this, Cholly lacks the ability to separate reality from his desires making him an unstable character. “Cholly saw her dimly and could not tell what he saw or what he felt” (161). This quote clearly articulates how Cholly commonly confuses reality with his cravings. While avoiding an emotional connection with women, Cholly sees his daughter not as family, but as an object. Again, Cholly’s mistrust in women originally stems from his loneliness as a child. Additionally, Morrison writes, “he was alone with his own perceptions and appetites, and they alone interested him” (160). When left alone with only his id to guide him, the line between fantasy and reality continues to become more foggy for Cholly. Reality for Cholly includes a wife, Pauline, and two kids. Unfortunately, Cholly remains unable to feel emotions even towards his wife and kids. Cholly continuously returns home at night drunk making him an irresponsible, unreliable father. Cholly’s wife describes his drinking as “his habitual drunkenness” (42). This quote obviously highlights his drinking as a prominent, persistent behavior. It becomes clear that due to the lack of a motherly figure in his own life, Cholly fails to fill the parent role for his own children. Without a role model to look up to, Cholly continues to drink and abuse as it is the only thing he knows to do. The fights and outbursts help to block Cholly from becoming too attached, ultimately protecting him from being left alone again. Overall, the fear of abandonment drives Cholly into shallow, insignificant relationships serving as a constant reminder of his recurring childhood pain. Toni Morrison discusses aspects of Cholly’s wants, morals, and reality in relation to his mother’s abandonment and his present interactions with women to showcase his fear and its negative outcomes.
Anonymous 1 days ago
Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye is an excellent example of deep, often avoided themes and is worth everyone’s time and consideration. Her deep and innovative illustrations of psychoanalytic confusion due to trauma are unmatched. This intricate and intelligently written novel depicts the damaging effects of racism on developing young minds. Perhaps the most effective strategy Morrison wields is her ability to annihilate accepted truths, and she makes strides in this area on the basis of racism. Instead of showing a community binding together in times of struggle, Morrison chooses to show the way societal racism divides the community being discriminated against. The separation between women from Mobile with lighter black skin, and people like the MacTeers with darker black skin was evident, and even something the women from Mobile took pride in (87). Additionally, the main character admits to feeling beautiful when standing astride Pecola’s ugliness, which was usually ugliness dumped on her from the rest of the world. The main character continues to say: “her simplicity decorated us, her guilt sanctified us, her pain made us glow with health” (205). These profound occurrences built the idea of one’s need to feel superior to someone because of the ugliness the world labels them with, and further proves the mental harm of discrimination. In the realm of ugliness, the novel also aims to prove that modern beauty standards boast a powerful and damaging impact on young, innocent minds. Claudia and Freida, for example, grew hateful and jealous of people who met modern beauty standards, because they knew it could never be attainable for them. Even as children they have extremely violent thoughts towards other white children. “ . . . but more than that wanting to poke the arrogance out of her eyes and smash the pride of ownership that curls her chewing mouth” (9). Pecola, on the other hand, believed meeting those beauty standards would solve all of her problems. “-if those eyes of hers were different, that is to say, beautiful, she herself would be different” (46). She prayed for blue eyes every night and went to extreme lengths to get them because she really believed blue eyes mean beauty, and beauty means she can live and be adored like Shirley Temple. These extreme emotions of hate, anger and jealousy manifested in very different ways, but the effects were damaging nonetheless. The book is confusing at times, often jumping between past and present, but the stories are meant to reinforce the idea of trauma in youth and how it manifests as one ages. Developing minds are exposed to the trauma of racism which carries into their adult lives and affects the decisions they make, the jobs they work, and the things they pray for. Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye is an excellent example of the traumas of discrimination, the impressionability of the young mind, and the combination of twisted and painful emotions that bring out the worst in people. Because of these powerful ideas, The Bluest Eye is a must read.
Anonymous 1 days ago
The novel, The Bluest Eye, is worth reading considering its unique insight on the impact of a child’s environment on their mental development. The novel follows an eleven-year-old, African American girl, Pecola Breedlove and her isolated childhood. Pecola experiences a lack of emotional connection and nurture from her family. “The little girl in pink started to cry. Mrs. Breedlove turned to her. ‘Hush, baby, hush. Come here. Oh, Lord, look at your dress. Don’t cry no more. Polly will change it.’ . . . Over her shoulder she spit out words to us like rotten pieces of apple. ‘Pick up that wash and get on out of here, so I can get this mess cleaned up” (Morrison 109). Pecola’s mother, Pauline (Polly) Breedlove, invests her time in the white family she cares for; consequently, she idolizes the white life and views her own children as an embarrassment. As a result, it instills the mentality of self-racism, and its effect on family relationships. Additionally, Pecola witnesses physical abuse between her parents, “She struggled between an overwhelming desire that one would kill the other, and a profound wish that she herself could die” (Morrison 43). Unfortunately, Pecola’s age confines her to her abusive household, and establishes her mentality of simply wishing for her circumstances to improve. While her abusive family significantly deepens her isolation, it subsequently nourishes her innocence and naivety, “What did love feel like? she wondered. How do grownups act when they love each other? Eat fish together? Into her eyes came the picture of Cholly and Mrs. Breedlove in bed. . . Maybe that was love. Choking sounds and silence” (Morrison 57). The submissive relationship between Cholly and Mrs. Breedlove exposes Pecola to a twisted definition of love. As a result, Pecola learns through losing her innocence that, “Love is never any better than the lover. Wicked people love wickedly, violent people love violently, weak people love weakly, stupid people love stupidly, but the love of a free man is never safe” (Morrison 206). This quote addresses that love takes form of its lover, therefore contrasting kinds of love will impact a relationship in different ways. Pecola, only experiences “love” through losing her innocence to a selfish man. Consequently, it reasserts the skewed meaning of intimacy that Pecola must learn to accept. Furthermore, Pecola’s lack of emotional connections aide in the development of her self-hatred. The self-hatred roots itself in the Breedlove’s family image, “They lived there because they were poor and black, and they stayed there because they believed they were ugly. Although their poverty was traditional and stultifying, it was not unique. But their ugliness was unique. No one could have convinced them that they were not relentlessly and aggressively ugly” (Morrison 38). Through her family’s image, and her community’s gossip, Pecola learns to hide behind her ugliness from a young age. Additionally, Pecola lives her life constantly wishing for blue eyes, a symbol of beauty in the current society, “A little black girl yearns for the blue eyes of a little white girl” (Morrison 204). However, through her unhealthy desire she develops a sense of shallowness being focused solely on achieving beauty. Therefore, through Pecola’s isolated, difficult upbringing, she develops an insecure mentality and wishes her problems away.
RosieKeating 1 days ago
Toni Morrison’s candid and highly-symbolic novel, The Bluest Eye, depicts powerful themes about growing up in the forefront of racial injustice, poverty, and domestic abuse. Although the novel is short in length, each page is packed with heavy and thought-provoking topics which makes it well worth the read. Throughout the story, Morrison criticizes society’s systematic oppression by displaying characters whose basic needs consistently remain unmet, and therefore, they fail to function as productive society members. Despite belonging to similar economic standings, Pecola Breedlove leads a very different life than the MacTeer sisters. This demonstrates how shortcomings on one’s hierarchy of needs inhibits their ability to reach self-actualization. Despite all of the characters being impoverished, Claudia and Frieda less frequently witness or fall victim to domestic abuse in comparison to Pecola. Because Claudia and Frieda are more fortunate in their physiological and safety needs, they are better off in their ability to form relationships and contribute to society. Pecola, on the other hand, lacks nearly every necessity according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. For example, Cholly Breedlove burns their house down, putting his family “outdoors,” meaning they had absolutely no place to go (Morrison 17). Pecola’s lack of security and family support contributes to her subsequent lack of success. When reflecting upon this, Claudia reasons that Pecola’s misfortune was inevitable due to a series of uncontrollable factors (Morrison 206). This ultimately demonstrates that lack of nourishment prevents individuals from reaching a point of productivity within society. Another idea that Morrison addresses relating to self-actualization is the disproportionate economic discrimination among people of color. Morrison describes how society was more likely to integrate with economically secure blacks. Describing a middle class black family, Morrison explains their efforts to suppress their culture and conform to white expectations (Morrison 87). This superficial measure of success could only occur if one’s basic needs were satisfied, and in the case of Pecola, these needs remain unmet. Pecola recognizes that society accepts those who adopt white traits, so she obsesses over obtaining blue eyes. Confiding in God and seeking any form of a miracle, Pecola wanted to “rise up out of the pit of her blackness and see the world with blue eyes” (Morrison 174). Morrison’s diction articulates the theme that one cannot conform to white expectations without obtaining a certain level of stability. Morrison displays these economic divides to represent how African Americans experience different levels of discrimination and how this inhibits one's ability to overcome their challenges and insecurities. Overall, Morrison builds on the many factors that doomed Pecola to a life of misfortune. The reader emerges from The Bluest Eye with an overwhelming amount of compassion and heightened sense of how racial division affected every aspect of life.
Anonymous 1 days ago
Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye is worth reading because the socioeconomic statuses of the families in the novel open the eyes of the reader into life as a low-income African American during the 1940s. Pecola, one of the main subjects and reason for the title of the novel, lives in extreme poverty. “The Breedloves did not live in a storefront because they were having temporary difficulty adjusting to the cutbacks at the plant. They lived there because they were poor and black, and they stayed there because they believed they were ugly” (Morrison 38). This quote serves as a powerful example of poverty at the time. Families like the Breedloves found themselves defined by their looks and skin color. Had the family felt they were “beautiful” they may have been able to remove themselves from an unfavorable living situation, but they were too caught up in how society defined them. Similarly to Pecola, the MacTeer’s live in poverty as well. “Our house is old, cold, and green. At night a kerosene lamp lights one large room. The others are braced in darkness, peopled by roaches and mice” (Morrison 10). The behavior of Claudia and Frieda serve as prime examples of how economic status influences childhood. Readers of this novel may be unaware of the challenges faced by many African Americans during this time period, and the portrayal of the lives of the Breedloves and MacTeer’s provide a great example of this. Furthermore, Pecola serves as a prime example of nature vs nurture, and how economic status influences both factors- one can overpower the other. Unfortunately, Pecola lives a life where everyone tells her of her ugliness; thus, she believes her only gateway to beauty is through blue eyes like Shirley Temple. “‘I can’t go to school no more. And I thought maybe you could help me.’ ‘Help you you? Tell me. Don’t be frightened.’ ‘My eyes.’ ‘What about your eyes?’ ‘I want them blue’” (Morrison 174). Scenes in the novel like this one make it well worth the read. It is important to note and understand the struggles little girls like Pecola went through. Toni Morrison’s language helps to understand how regardless of what Pecola may have learned from natural settings, being raised on the idea that she is ugly has detrimental effects on many aspects of life. Additionally, after Pecola had been incestuosly impregnated, she has a conversation with herself about how her mother handled the situation by not believing Cholly had been the offender (Morrison 200). Pecola’s internal battle serves as another example of her skewed nurture, but an incredible example to the reader of her horrible situation. Novels with difficult topics tend to be harder to read; however, in Pecola’s situation, the storyline of this novel teaches an important lesson of privilege to the reader.
Anonymous 6 months ago
This+book+moved+me+to+tears.+I+recommend+it+to+any+reader+out+there.+It+makes+you+reflect+heavily+on+your+own+upbringing+and+mannerisms.+Thought+provoking+and+wholly+well+written.
LeeHallison on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this many years ago and it is one of the books I have never forgotten. The story is intense, the main character someone you will hold in your heart forever. It is hard to imagine, but there are people in this world with lives like hers.
novelcommentary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
After I read a book by Toni Morrison I feel like I should not read anything else until I have read everthing she has done. There is more to admire in each sentence of hers than in entire novels I have read. This was her first novel and I would love to quickly jump to A Mercy - her last novel -- to get an interestng perspective. The story is wonderfully written and certainly this author deserves all the accolades that have been bestowed. It is an important book and must of been even more so as it hit the shelves back in the 70's and soon became one of the most controversial of stories. My edition contained an afterward which aslo adds some interesting perspective to the story as Morrison humbly desctribes what she feels she was unable to do. What she was able to do was depict the lives of 3 teenage girls in Lorain Ohio just before the start of WWII. Basically the story illustrates the racial self loathing that was prevenent for the lives of these girls, (Claudia, Freida, and Pecola) -where Shirley Temple is idolized, white dolls are given as precious presents, and beauty is determined by the lightness of your skin and the blueness of your eyes. Claudia partially narrates the story of Pecola, a girl who suffers one of the worst lives depicted in literature. She is considered ugly, sexually abused by her father, beaten by her mother ,and tricked by a pedophile into believing that she could have blue eyes. It is only through her madness, her escape from life, that she is able to have her wish. Morrison, in 3rd person narration, also detailed the facts behind Pecola¿s tragic existence by providing the histories of a father who was abandoned at birth and a mother who jumped at the first man who showed an interest. A quote form the NY Times nicely summarizes: "I have said "poetry." But "The Bluest Eye" is also history, sociology, folklore, nightmare and music. It is one thing to state that we have institutionalized waste, that children suffocate under mountains of merchandised lies. It is another thing to demonstrate that waste, to re-create those children, to live and die by it. Miss Morrison's angry sadness overwhelms. "