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The Bluest Eye (1970)

by Toni Morrison

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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10,318180475 (3.9)466
The Bluest Eye is the story of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove, a black girl in an America whose love for its blonde, blue-eyed children can devastate all others, who prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different. This is the story of the nightmare at the heart of her yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment.… (more)
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» See also 466 mentions

English (169)  Spanish (4)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (176)
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Please note that this book deals with rape and incest.

This book has left me thinking over certain themes for days. I think the best thing I can say about any book is that I can't stop thinking about it. "The Bluest Eye" was so hard to read in parts that I honestly was surprised when I got to the ending because even though it was hard to read, I wanted it to keep going and going. I wanted to read my happy ending damn it, and sadly there was no happy ending at all, just reality.

The novel focuses for the most part on two young girls, Claudia MacTeer and Pecola Breedlove. Claudia and Pecola go to school together, but Claudia gets to know Pecola more when Pecola temporarily is housed with the MacTeer family after Pecola's father burns their home down.

Besides the story weaving back and forth between Claudia and Pecola. We also have POVs from Pecola's mother (Pauline), father (Cholly) and even a young boy who ends up harassing Pecola. Claudia is at times portrayed as the narrator of Pecola's story and other times she is narrating what is going on with her and her sister Frieda.

What made this book interesting to me is the differences between Claudia and Pecola. Claudia is growing up starting to despise anything that is different than her and particularly hates the white baby dolls she is given. She wants to take them apart, open them up, and squash them. Claudia hates these things because they are showing her that she is not enough, her blackness, her brown eyes are all wrong/ugly. We don't really get many details about what Claudia looks like, but it seems to me that she is at least more attractive than what Pecola and her family look like.

Pecola who is called ugly even by her own mother longs to become white and have blue eyes. To her, being white with blue eyes would make her beautiful and would make everything in her world right. Pecola's entire history is tragic from beginning to end and all I wanted to do was hug this fictional girl and tell her it's going to be okay. Pauline's character I could sympathize with at times, but she was as part of the problem as was Cholly. Pauline and Pecola actually had a lot in common, both of them dreaming of better things, though in Pauline's case she ends up seeing her job as a maid, babysitter, housekeeper to a rich white family as the best thing in her life.

The character of Cholly was so hard to sympathize with though Morrison shows you the layers to this character as well. You get to see his start in life and see how for him everything turned out wrong. In his case though, it was easier to drink, get in fights, and lash out at others instead of taking a hard look at himself.

Morrison's book really takes a hard look at how not only do the way that whites perceive African Americans has a cause and effect, but the way that other African Americans perceive each other can have a negative cause and effect.

I am fairly light skinned and I got crapped on all of the time as a kid for being "yellow". Girls got crapped on for being dark-skinned though dark-skinned boys did not. Apparently being a neutral brown skinned African American was the best bet for you. I didn't think at the time as a kid how we were segregating ourselves into what we consider most beautiful and least attractive, but as kids we did that. I am wondering now if were doing this based on what the adults around us were doing as well.

Claudia who is a tough little thing already seemed wise to the world. Pecola was fragile and needed defending. I was hoping for a time that Claudia would swoop in and be Pecola's friend, but once again, kids are loathe to go and attract any unwanted negative attention to themselves and once again I applaud Morrison for highlighting that.

I said it one of my updates that Morrison's writing at times reminded me of what I would call the "inner" chapters of John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath." Morrison's writing took on an almost haunting, singing quality when she would break down the African American community (children, girls, boys, women, men) and use that to introduce a POV that would play into what she was going to be introducing.

This books takes place sometime after the Great Depression in Ohio. Reading about the differences between neighborhoods (black and white) and even between black people themselves made me think back about my hometown. It was set up pretty much the same way. My parents were actually in a fairly affluent racially diverse neighborhood. It wasn't until I was in college that I saw that for the most part that many of our formerly white neighbors had been replaced by other African Americans and even some of the older African Americans I had known had left.

The ending was pretty much a foregone conclusion before you get there. I do like how Claudia wraps up the narration with her acknowledging how she and the community as a whole had failed Pecola. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
Exceptional writing in Morrison's debut novel. I found myself reread passages in amazement. ( )
  Beth.Clarke | Jun 14, 2020 |
I can't believe I had this fine book on my shelf for so long and hadn't read it.

Morrison tells us the story of two girls, and two families, in a black neighborhood in Ohio. Claudia has a stable family life, and we see her go through the discoveries of childhood, the adventure of buying sweets, the trials of school and its social strata. Pecula's family is poor, and everyone finds her ugly and withdrawn. We learn her family's story, first sweet, then bitter; she longs for the bluest eyes, which will make her beautiful, happy, loved. That's not what happens to her.

Morrison's writing is luminous, never cliched, and her scenes and dialog are never strained, always vividly alive.

This is a FIRST novel. Wow. ( )
  ffortsa | Jun 6, 2020 |
Young Pecola Breedlove is the kind of abused and discarded figure for which the reader aches at unexpected times throughout the day. Tears came to my eyes as I turned the page on the tragedy of Pecola's existence & found these words: "LOOKLOOKHERECOMESAFRIENDTHEFRIENDWILLPLAYWITHJANE..." The painful irony is that these words reflect Pecola's madness and isolation as well as her (albeit debilitating) idealism. Intense & dark, but a phenomenal work of fiction. ( )
  TheaJean | Jun 2, 2020 |
The language is exquisite. The story is heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. We've lost a master storyteller with the passing of Toni Morrison, but she's left us her gifts to treasure. ( )
  DonnaMarieMerritt | May 13, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 169 (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 (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Morrison, Toniprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Žantovský, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Balacco, LuisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bofill, MireiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cousté, AlbertoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dee, RubyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dorsman-Vos, W.A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hallén, KerstinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Häupl, MichaelForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lázár JúliaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pilz, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rademacher, SusannaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schmidt-Dengler, WendelinAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schneider, HelmutContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thigpen, LynneReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vink, Nettiesecondary 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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