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The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
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The Bluest Eye (1970)

by Toni Morrison

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (152)  Spanish (3)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (158)
Showing 1-5 of 152 (next | show all)
This was very good. Starting with Claudia and Frieda, two preteen sisters from a dirt poor black family in Ohio in the 1940s, the focus soon shifts to twelve-year-old Pecola, a temporary foster child, whose father raped her and got her with child. Later in the novel, extended flashbacks delve into the histories of each of Pecola’s parents.

This is not a happy read: essentially, the book deals with successive generations succumbing to cycles of abandonment, violence and internalised inferiority complexes. It is about concentric circles of rancor: within each marginalised group a power dynamic develops that recreates that external enmity -- all the way down into the individual. The bluest eye is not a straightforward read, either: different focalisers skip from first-person to third-person, and the story jumps back and forth between several decades.

Speaking as a white person, grokking systemic racism is hard to do. This book definitely helps in turning intellectual understanding into a glimpse of, well, grokking. ( )
  Petroglyph | Apr 9, 2019 |
Ugly-crying. So much ugly-crying. ( )
  doryfish | Mar 6, 2019 |
I could not read this book because of the subject matter that jumped out at me on the first page, and also because of the style on later pages.
  ShiraDest | Mar 6, 2019 |
Fortune favored my time with The Bluest Eye, especially in the context of my encounter with William Styron's Nat Turner. I read this for a Feminist Ethics course. There were only white people in the class. I had been trumpeting the theories of Woolf and Irigaray and the class appeared either pissed or slightly afraid. Ms. Morrison picks up the busted springs of a shattered family and interrogates each relation, each causal arrow, each societal grievance, each sardonic discrimination. That this pillaging occurs in Ohio is the element which doesn't forgive.
( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Good but sad. An abused black girl wishes she had blue eyes so she would be pretty: the effects of cultural norms of majority on minority self-image.
[read 2001-18 yr ago] ( )
  juniperSun | Jan 18, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 152 (next | show all)
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.
 

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Morrison, Toniprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dee, RubyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dorsman-Vos, W.A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the two who gave me life
and the one who made me free
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Quiet as it's kept, there were no marigolds in the fall of 1941. We thought, at the time, that it was because Pecola was having her father's baby that the marigolds did not grow. A little examination and much less melancholy would have proved to us that our seeds were not the only ones that did not sprout; nobody's did. Not even the gardens fronting the lake showed marigolds that year. But so deeply concerned were we with the health and safe delivery of Pecola's baby we could think of nothing but our own magic: if we planted the seeds, and said the right words over them, they would blossom, and everything would be alright. It was a long time before my sister and I admitted to ourselves that no green was going to spring from our seeds. Once we knew, our guilt was relieved only by fights and mutual accusations about who was to blame. For years I thought my sister was right: it was my fault. I had planted them too far down in the earth. It never occured to either one of us that the earth itself might have been unyielding. We had dropped our seeds in our own little plot of black dirt just as Pecola's father had dropped his seeds in his own plot of black dirt. Our innocence and faith were no more productive than his lust or despair. What is clear now is that of all of 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.
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Please distinguish between this complete 1970 novel and any abridgement of the original Work. Thank you.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0452282195, Paperback)

Oprah Book Club® Selection, April 2000: Originally published in 1970, The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison's first novel. In an afterword written more than two decades later, the author expressed her dissatisfaction with the book's language and structure: "It required a sophistication unavailable to me." Perhaps we can chalk up this verdict to modesty, or to the Nobel laureate's impossibly high standards of quality control. In any case, her debut is nothing if not sophisticated, in terms of both narrative ingenuity and rhetorical sweep. It also shows the young author drawing a bead on the subjects that would dominate much of her career: racial hatred, historical memory, and the dazzling or degrading power of language itself.

Set in Lorain, Ohio, in 1941, The Bluest Eye is something of an ensemble piece. The point of view is passed like a baton from one character to the next, with Morrison's own voice functioning as a kind of gold standard throughout. The focus, though, is on an 11-year-old black girl named Pecola Breedlove, whose entire family has been given a cosmetic cross to bear:

You looked at them and wondered why they were so ugly; you looked closely and could not find the source. Then you realized that it came from conviction, their conviction. It was as though some mysterious all-knowing master had given each one a cloak of ugliness to wear, and they had each accepted it without question.... And they took the ugliness in their hands, threw it as a mantle over them, and went about the world with it.
There are far uglier things in the world than, well, ugliness, and poor Pecola is subjected to most of them. She's spat upon, ridiculed, and ultimately raped and impregnated by her own father. No wonder she yearns to be the very opposite of what she is--yearns, in other words, to be a white child, possessed of the blondest hair and the bluest eye.

This vein of self-hatred is exactly what keeps Morrison's novel from devolving into a cut-and-dried scenario of victimization. She may in fact pin too much of the blame on the beauty myth: "Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another--physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion." Yet the destructive power of these ideas is essentially colorblind, which gives The Bluest Eye the sort of universal reach that Morrison's imitators can only dream of. And that, combined with the novel's modulated pathos and musical, fine-grained language, makes for not merely a sophisticated debut but a permanent one. --James Marcus

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:54 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Pecola Breedlove, a young eleven-year-old 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 the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to finally fit in. Yet as her dreams grow 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.--from publisher's description.… (more)

» see all 14 descriptions

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