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The Bluest Eye (Oprah's Book Club) by Toni…
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The Bluest Eye (Oprah's Book Club) (original 1970; edition 2000)

by Toni Morrison

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8,288130378 (3.88)356
Member:cmtusa
Title:The Bluest Eye (Oprah's Book Club)
Authors:Toni Morrison
Info:Plume (2000), Paperback, 224 pages
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The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (1970)

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English (123)  Spanish (3)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (129)
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Book Description 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.

My Review This was a very powerful book which shows that the way people are treated has a very big impact on their life. Everyone wants to be beautiful and loved but that is not a reality. Morrison brings out the themes of love and injustice to show how they impact on everyone's life. This book taught me that even though we are all different on the outside, everybody feels and looks the same on the inside. I would recommend this book to everyone as I feel it is a very worthwhile read. ( )
  EadieB | Jun 1, 2016 |
This is my third book by Toni Morrison and her debut novel. In this book the author tries to give voice to what it is like to be rejected as a person by others. To want what your are not and to not embrace who you are. The story is told in Claudia's voice and an omniscient narrator and is the story of Pecola. Pecola prays for blue eyes. Pecola is 11 and she is black. The story is about loneliness and child sexual abuse which is not an easy, lighthearted subject but what makes this novel great is the beautiful writing by a very gifted author. Thee are many rich quotes that can be found in this book. Here is two, one from the start of the story and one from the end.

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 didn't sprout; nobody's did…It had never occurred to either 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 into his own plot of black dirt. Our innocence and faith were no more productive than his lust or despair.

The birdlike gestures are worn away to a mere picking and plucking her way between the tire rims and the sunflowers, between Coke bottles and milkweed, among all the waste and beauty of the world—which is what she herself was. All of our waste which we dumped on her and which she absorbed. And all of our beauty, which was hers first and which she gave to us.

Toni Morrison is a winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. She writes about being female, being black and she is one of the great American (female) authors. ( )
  Kristelh | Apr 8, 2016 |
This novel accomplished a great deal in only 206 pages. It explores topics of racism, class-ism, media's promulgation of a singular ideal of beauty, abuse, and relationships between children and adults. The narration in this book is a very creative metaphor, especially for one character.

Especially for the major, adult characters in this work - they sometimes do unspeakable things to each other and to children, but the author treats them in a very human way, where the reader is allowed to form his/her own opinions about them on their own terms.

Overall, I felt myself being challenged and angered by the way certain characters were treated by others in the novel, and the way that society reacted to this treatment. This has given me a new perspective on the way I live my life, and how I relate to others around me.

NOTE: I would highly recommend not reading the Forward before reading the book. My edition had a Forward written by the author, and it gave some spoilers and character insights that I would have been disappointed to have known beforehand. ( )
  BooksForYears | Apr 1, 2016 |
I found this book wonderful--for the first ironic 70 (?) pages. Then, like every T.M. I've read, it descends from irony into various word salad. No idea why; my guess was, she wrote too much. ZN Hurston wrote much less--and much better. I take it the Nobel committee was not English as first language.
I do say, always, that T.M. is the best researcher-novelist I know, the equal of Flaubert who had to research provincial life--the auction, the cart transportation, the priest's and the physician's life, even the apothicaire. (I say always that in court for the immorality of Mme Bovary, Flaubert beat the charge the same way as Lizzie Borden: The court was assured that a guilty verdict would reflect poorly on their respected fathers! In Flaubert's case, his father was a famous physician who may have saved people in the courtroom.) ( )
  AlanWPowers | Mar 5, 2016 |
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

Nine-year-old Claudia and ten-year-old Frieda MacTeer live in Lorain, Ohio, with their parents. It is the end of the Great Depression, and the girls’ parents are more concerned with making ends meet than with lavishing attention upon their daughters, but there is an undercurrent of love and stability in their home. The MacTeers take in a boarder, Henry Washington, and also a young girl named Pecola. Pecola’s father has tried to burn down his family’s house, and Claudia and Frieda feel sorry for her. Pecola loves Shirley Temple, believing that whiteness is beautiful and that she is ugly.

Pecola moves back in with her family, and her life is difficult. Her father drinks, her mother is distant, and the two of them often beat one another. Her brother, Sammy, frequently runs away. Pecola believes that if she had blue eyes, she would be loved and her life would be transformed. Meanwhile, she continually receives confirmation of her own sense of ugliness—the grocer looks right through her when she buys candy, boys make fun of her, and a light-skinned girl, Maureen, who temporarily befriends her makes fun of her too. She is wrongly blamed for killing a boy’s cat and is called a “nasty little black bitch” by his mother.

We learn that Pecola’s parents have both had difficult lives. Pauline, her mother, has a lame foot and has always felt isolated. She loses herself in movies, which reaffirm her belief that she is ugly and that romantic love is reserved for the beautiful. She encourages her husband’s violent behavior in order to reinforce her own role as a martyr. She feels most alive when she is at work, cleaning a white woman’s home. She loves this home and despises her own. Cholly, Pecola’s father, was abandoned by his parents and raised by his great aunt, who died when he was a young teenager. He was humiliated by two white men who found him having sex for the first time and made him continue while they watched. He ran away to find his father but was rebuffed by him. By the time he met Pauline, he was a wild and rootless man. He feels trapped in his marriage and has lost interest in life.

Cholly returns home one day and finds Pecola washing dishes. With mixed motives of tenderness and hatred that are fueled by guilt, he rapes her. When Pecola’s mother finds her unconscious on the floor, she disbelieves Pecola’s story and beats her. Pecola goes to Soaphead Church, a sham mystic, and asks him for blue eyes. Instead of helping her, he uses her to kill a dog he dislikes.

Claudia and Frieda find out that Pecola has been impregnated by her father, and unlike the rest of the neighborhood, they want the baby to live. They sacrifice the money they have been saving for a bicycle and plant marigold seeds. They believe that if the flowers live, so will Pecola’s baby. The flowers refuse to bloom, and Pecola’s baby dies when it is born prematurely. Cholly, who rapes Pecola a second time and then runs away, dies in a workhouse. Pecola goes mad, believing that her cherished wish has been fulfilled and that she has the bluest eyes. ( )
  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 123 (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
Toni Morrisonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Morrison, Tonimain 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)

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