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THE BLUEST EYES by Toni Morrison

THE BLUEST EYES (original 1970; edition 1972)

by Toni Morrison

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8,549141358 (3.88)367
Authors:Toni Morrison
Info:Washington Square Press (1972), Edition: Mass Paperback Edition, Mass Market Paperback, 160 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (1970)


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English (134)  Spanish (3)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  All (140)
Showing 1-5 of 134 (next | show all)
Morrison illustrates more of the black culture in this story of a young girl who thinks that blue eyes will be the thing to make her beautiful, like beautiful dolls, the girls in story books, the most popular girl in her class. Subtle messages that are transmitted to little black girls that tell them they are not special, like a stepfather who rapes her and leaves her pregnant. Or a mother who beats her before understanding why the girl was discussing certain topics.

This was a short book but very powerful in its message and enlightening. ( )
  mamzel | Feb 16, 2017 |
this book is insane. super sad but amazing at the same time. very memorable more so than sula by morrison ( )
  NicolineA | Jan 12, 2017 |
If you're interested in tracking Morrison's writerly evolution from Bluest Eye forward to Beloved and later works, then the novel is engaging as a kind of socio-historical document. I don't mean by this to say it's not a good novel on its own, but it lacks the the unifying force of Morrison's later work. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
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 | Jan 6, 2017 |
Toni Morrison’s first book is brilliant. In it, she explores the insidious ways in which racism can turn an oppressed people against themselves, starting with the effect of the dominant culture propagating the belief that blackness is ugly on little girls growing up, one of whom wishes for blue eyes so she can “be beautiful”. You’ll see clear racism – teachers that don’t call on her, a shopkeeper who doesn’t even want to look at her - but Morrison doesn’t dwell on these things, she simply shows their pervasive effect on the psyche. This extends to the effect of the humiliation of a young man who grows up taking his hatred out on women instead of those who have emasculated him, as well as rifts in the community based on ‘how black’ people are. The self-hatred seems as bad as the oppression, if that’s possible.

As a Caucasian I can’t say I’ll ever come close to understanding the African-American experience, but it’s books like this that help, and it seems just as important to read in 2016 as it was in 1970, if not more so. Morrison’s writing is also honest and unflinching, and is never idealized. She does not make excuses or pleas for pity, she simply tells it like it is, even when it includes some pretty horrible acts against young girls. She shows children growing up in poverty, and a case where a mother and father have both abandoned a boy, and we see just how damaging that is, and how hard it is to break the cycle in the following generation. (“Having no idea of how to raise children, and having never watched any parent raise himself, he could not even comprehend what such a relationship could be.”) She tells the story in fragments that have to be stitched together by the reader, which she said in the Forward (written in 1993) ‘didn’t work’, but which I thought was highly successful. I was certainly touched and moved.

Oh and p.s., I love the fact that the character Pecola is named after a woman in the 1934 movie ‘Imitation of Life’, which is a great film. ( )
1 vote gbill | Dec 22, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 134 (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 editionscalculated
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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