The Bluest Eye

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I'm talking dark-skinned girls bleaching their skin, I'm talking the violation of civilizations for the pursuit of a hobby, I'm talking a disconnect between an entire host of souls from their bodies that makes the incest in this book ugly and a white man raping his three-year-old daughter legally acceptable in the US as of Toni Morrison wrote this book while people were killing themselves to keep themselves aligned with "respectability politics" of white fashion; today, every white person wants dreadlocks. Shit on something long enough and it's yours for the commercial taking, so long, of course, you look a certain way.

If you dehumanize someone because they don't look like blonde-haired blue-eyed white-skinned skinny-assed me, you are utter, fucking, goddamn trash. It's as simple as that.


View all 10 comments. Jul 31, Thomas rated it really liked it Shelves: historical-fiction , read-for-dmv-bookclub , lit-outside-of-school. Toni Morrison captures this dynamic of internalized racial self-loathing so well. With vivid prose, she interrogates how glorifying white skin and blue eyes harms black girls and turns them 4. With vivid prose, she interrogates how glorifying white skin and blue eyes harms black girls and turns them against one another.

Through developing the main characters of this book, the Breedlove family, in a rich and detailed way, Morrison also investigates the repercussions of intergenerational trauma, rape and incest, and more. My heart hurt so much for these characters even as my mind admired Morrison's skill as a writer. She holds nothing back in her books, and neither should we as we fight to diversify our media and show how all bodies deserve love and respect, not just white ones, thin ones, etc. Highly recommended to Morrison fans and to those who care about societal beauty ideals, race and the family, and the social transmission of trauma and abuse.

Imagine a Nobel Laureate reading her work, and then explaining her art. I listened to this via Audible and I was spellbound. Inflections with each character switch and mood, exquisite dialogue performance—I might as well have been in the same room with her. The bluest eye. Oh what great use of personification. This story, laden with historical and literary context, is narrated by young Claudia and follows three black girls: Claudia, Frieda, and Pecola.

She must call her mom, Mrs. Breedlove, while the blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl her mother takes care of, calls her Polly.


When Pecola sees the same mother who beats and yells at her oohing and aahing at the little girl, the blue eyes become her way of wanting to be acknowledged. Maybe if she had blue eyes… Later, the bluest eye will play a role after Pecola goes through a horrific ordeal and we get to hear from her directly.

In her world, no one notices or acknowledges her: the black woman. Shopping for her family is a pain.

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Toni Morrison started this story in —working on it while getting her MA. In , it started to take the shape of a book. In elementary school, she had a friend who told her that she wished she had blue eyes. Very blue eyes in a very dark skin?

While reading two of her works simultaneously this week, I also read Paradise I noticed her signature style. The lyrical syntax is prolific, the narrator voice oblique, and the story structure will take leaps and bounds. The second half of this book was my favorite. In the beginning, there is a certain voice that pierces the narrative throughout and I wondered what it was the white house and Jane playing.

Towards the end, I understood the art as I heard from Pecola in a weird, artistic kind of way and it was a deeply emotional moment.

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I feel so bad for not liking this book, because I know I'm in the minority, and because I know it deals with some very very important topics! I think it's important that books like these exist, because we need to remember that problems like these exist. That being said, I strongly disliked the execution of this story. I almost couldn't breathe when reading this because it kept telling about disaster after disaster.

I needed a little glimpse of hope somewhere, but I didn't get it. This book is said to be very poetic, and I agree with that. However, once again I felt like it was done in an exaggerated manner. Almost every second sentence had a deeper meaning, and while it was beautiful to read in the beginning, it became too much in the end.

Furthermore, Toni Morrison chose to mix together genres and perspectives, and I didn't feel a connection with any of the characters despite what they were going through.

The Bluest Eye

I love beautiful prose and stories with serious topics, but I didn't like this one one bit. I had a very hard time getting through the mere pages of "The Bluest Eye". The two stars are given because of the glimpses of beautiful prose and the ever-important topics that this book deals with, but all in all I can't say that this was a great reading experience. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. A painful, uncomfortable, provocative, depressing story that is nevertheless more honest and real than most of the books I've read this year.

In a foreword written two decades after first publication, the author expresses some misgivings about the structure of the novel and about how Pecola, the main character, may be lacking in relevance for larger issues of racial identity, her story too particular to lend itself well to generalities. For me, like in the case of Carson McCullers, these flaws in execution may be the very things that convinced me of the sincerity of the feelings described, and the idiom flavored prose more expressive and authentic than later, more polished books I'm thinking of Home , the only Morrison book I've read before this one.

The main theme, that of self-esteem, identity and prejudice, is as relevant today as it was in when the action is placed or in when the book was first published. Only last week I've read in the news about a shameful Fox News debacle on the colour of Father Christmas and of Jesus skin. Why can't we have a black Santa? Why would it be considered ugly? The standards of beauty imposed by fashion magazines and MTV shows may be more inclusive today in terms of skin colour, but they remain as radical and as dangerous for children and teenagers who are not tall, skinny, 'blue eyed'.

Don't even start me on Miley Cyrus as a role model Back to Pecola Breedlove: a little black girl who wanted to rise up out of the pit of her blackness and see the world with blue eyes. The whole world is telling her she is ugly, worthless, pityful, and Pecola is not strong enough to contradict it and to fight for herself. It is the artist role to be her advocate, to feel her pain, her despair, and to shout it out for all to hear They are invisible. The death of self-esteem can occur quickly, easily in children, before their ego has 'legs', so to speak.

Couple the vulnerability of youth with indifferent parents, dismissive adults, and a world, which, in its language, laws, and images, re-enforces despair, and the journey to destruction is sealed. The story of Pecola reads more like a parable than a reportage, with the outcome made clear right from the start, extensive use of metaphoric language and a fatalistic inevitability that harks back to the Greek tragedies. Most of the novel is told through the eyes of Frieda and Claudia, two black girls growing up in Larain, Ohio in , witnessing the drama unfolding in the Breedlove family, fighting spirits both but yet too young to be able to do anything about their friend.

They plant some flower seeds in the barren earth of their neighborhood marigolds as a symbol for love and understanding? What is clear now is that of all that hope, fear, lust, love, and grief, nothing remains but Pecola and the unyielding earth. Cholly Breedlove is dead; our innocence too. The seeds shriveled and died; her baby too.

There is really nothing more to say - except why. But since 'why' is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in 'how'. The following account is non-linear, broken in pieces, jumping back and forth in the timeline and moving around to other locations, passed through from one character to another in an almost haphazard manner, yet coming round by the finish line to Pecole and the marigolds refusing to bloom.

Many factors contribute to the little girl's downfall, yet the lion's share of blame should probably be placed firmly at her parents door: Pauline and Cholly Breedlove have a disfunctional relationship that hurts their children more than their own calloused and already defeated souls. Polly takes refuge in the fantasy world of cinema and believes her children should conform to the burgeois standards of the white class: Into her son she beat a loud desire to run away, and into her daughter she beat a fear of growing up, fear of other people, fear of life.

Cholly is a drunkard who keeps everything inside, unable to express himself other than though violence, regularly beating his wife and terorizing the children.

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

He pities his daughter, but the way he chooses to manifest his emotion is more than horrible. Another abuser is a certain Whitcomb, an Anglophile mullato con man and a pervert who poses as a priest and a dream interpreter. Pecola finds more understanding and kindness in the rooms of destitute whores living in the apartment above than in her own family. What is interesting about all the adults in the story is that behind all their despicable actions, they are not actually corrupted in their own eyes.

Pauline was at one time happy in her house chores and even in her passion for Cholly. Cholly was once a free spirit, a fighter and a tender husband. Whitcomb believes he is doing a service to the community, even to the underage girls he fondles. They all find some way to rationalize their failures. The autor goes to great lengths to show their human frailty instead of condemning them outright, leaving the task of moral judgement on the shoulders of the reader: Have I looked down instinctively on someone on account of their race Romanian Gypsies are quite horribly treated today both in Romania and in Europe?

Have I judged people hastily, without trying to walk some miles in their shoes? Will I do it again, after reading this book? Probably: the feelings of euphoria and goodwill tend to evaporate in time under the pressure of mundane preoccupations. But I hope some kernel of truth will remain, and who knows, maybe some marigolds will bloom in my own garden.

Toni Morrison interview on "The Bluest Eye" and "Paradise" (1998)

My final quote is I believe an illustration of the fact that we do not need to be perfect, we need only to make an effort and to keep learning about the world and the people around us, no matter how old we are in years: Love is never 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.

There is no gift for the beloved. The lover alone possesses his gift of love. The loved one is shorn, neutralized, frozen in the glare of the lover's inward eye. Let us love wisely, for once! Thank you, Mrs. Morrison for the remainder. Each sentence bled into the next, urging the reader to press on amidst a heartbreaking, convicting story of rejection, self-loathing, and ultimately, complete violation. It's not easy, or particularly enjoyable, to read.