The Bluest Eye

The Bluest Eye
Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison Portrait PhotoWow! My first read of Toni Morrison, and it did not disappoint. It was powerful and weighted–normally I’d brace myself for a read like this before jumping in. So, ignorance is bliss, and I jumped, committing to finishing the book in three days.

Subjects addressed in The Bluest Eye…race, class, and economics, within the black community and the same juxtaposed outside it. Morrison lyrically framed an irony in our existential experience. We’ve tried co-opting it by owning insults originally designed to demean us in order to remove the sting that was their intent, only to stumble upon them like children running with scissors. This is apparent in the phrases heard when I was younger, the ones my mother endearingly used with the caveat, “I’m just preparing you for what you’re bound to hear”, the phrases teenagers use too casually these days, and the phrases Morrison’s characters use as a natural part of their setting. However, Morrison has artfully taken this along with self-sabotaging notions we often take for granted and scrutinized their deleterious effect. She’s revealed the sinister destruction we can wield on ourselves and she does this through the main character of Pecola, whom she paints in a hostile setting rife with dysfunction.

I would deem this book required reading in any American Social Studies class because of the vivid picture it paints of how we are still overcoming outside influences we internalized generations ago. This said, it should also be a book the well-read must experience because the subjects within it are universally relevant.

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12 thoughts on “The Bluest Eye

    • The race relations and social ills Toni Morrison addresses, although set in the U.S., are not exclusive to the U.S. African-American experience. Her writing is a catalyst for discussions about race within our own community too; like why do we still use the “N” word among ourselves or speak of good hair and bad hair, or other relics imposed on our cultural dialog. It’s a conversation opener. Morrison’s works open conversation.

      So, give it another go and report back.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I read it, Kennedy – on your suggestion! 🙂 (You had reminded me about it on my blog a while back.) And… I absolutely loveddddd it!!!!

    Toni Morrison’s characterisation, and her use of language, is breathtakingly rich. I, too, was particularly touched by her exploration of the ways in which people from marginalised communities often further marginalise some of their own, in order to feel better about their individual standing in wider society. What touched me most was her suggestion through the character of Pecola that people who are thus doubly-marginalised as a result of their so-called ugliness, become the source of so many others’ sense of self-worth, and these people – in a deeper sense – are therefore ultimately the most beautiful of us all:

    “All of her beauty was hers first, which she gave to us. All of us – all who knew her – felt so wholesome after we cleaned ourselves on her. We were so beautiful when we stood astride her ugliness. Her simplicity decorated us, her guilt sanctified us, her pain made us glow with health, her awkwardness made us think we had a sense of humour. Her inarticulateness made us believe we were eloquent…”

    Are you on Goodreads by any chance, Kennedy? I would love to get more book reccomendations from you! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When I taught English at the college level, I used to assign this book as part of a survey American Lit course. My (predominantly white and wealthy) students complained that it should be removed from the reading list because it was “too depressing.” I refused to remove it. It is TOO depressing. And only too real. And that’s why it should continue to be assigned and read.

    Like

    • Our society still faces life and death matters, extreme policing, economic disparity, and other social ills; remnants of stuff that happened before us, too depressing and complicated to discuss—or is it? This is why Morrison’s book, The Bluest Eye, is frustratingly relevant and a discussion imperative; so, I’m glad you used it as such in your classroom. Turning a blind eye to systems that promulgate “the bluest eye” as referenced in Morrison’s book, leaves us dealing today with issues rooted in the past.

      I hope for students to have the benefit of more teachers like you with an understanding of what literature does for dialog and dialog can do for change.

      Liked by 1 person

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