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The Bluest Eye

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The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison's first novel, a book heralded for its richness of language and boldness of vision. Set in the author's girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America. In the autumn of 1941, the year the marigolds in the Breedloves' garden do not bloom. Pecola's life does change—in painful, devastating ways.

What its vivid evocation of the fear and loneliness at the heart of a child's yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment. The Bluest Eye remains one of Toni Morrisons's most powerful, unforgettable novels- and a significant work of American fiction.

216 pages, Paperback

First published June 1, 1970

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About the author

Toni Morrison

188 books17.7k followers
Toni Morrison (born Chloe Ardelia Wofford) was an American author, editor, and professor who won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature for being an author "who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality."

Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed African American characters; among the best known are her novels The Bluest Eye , Song of Solomon , and Beloved , which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988. In 2001 she was named one of "The 30 Most Powerful Women in America" by Ladies' Home Journal.

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Profile Image for Samadrita.
295 reviews4,558 followers
October 5, 2015
Just a few days ago I happened to have a conversation with someone (quite a 'well-read' person too) who said quite casually, almost in an offhand manner, how he found books written by women 'uninteresting'. On prodding him for the reason behind his 'disinterest', he replied that 'books written by women just do not engage' him. I didn't have the heart to ask him why a second time.
And there it sat between us, this knowledge of his disdain for women writers (for some hitherto unknown reason), like a breathing, venom-spitting, invisible monster quietly killing our conversation (thankfully!).

No evasion. Not even a half-hearted attempt at rescuing an uncomfortable situation. A wholly unabashed, flat out declaration made with the confident, self-righteous air of a reader who knows what good reading should consist of and, when it comes to that, exclude.

In retrospect, when I dwell on the memory of this horrendous, very real conversation, I experience a crushing hopelessness. It's not that particular guy I am mad at. No. He is only a minuscule part of the universal malady afflicting our collective psyche. It is this spirited tolerance for continued ignorance and apathy that infuriates me so. This tradition of belittling the female voice which speaks of personal sexual gratification, love, marriage, and childbirth, of the tyranny of beauty that forces her to adhere desperately to some predetermined standard of physical perfection - the right angle to her cheekbones, the right slope to her nose, the right lushness to her eyelashes, the right curve to her hips, the right skin color to match her hair and her eyes. All of this is terribly uninteresting isn't it?
"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. The master had said, 'You are ugly people.' They had looked about themselves saw nothing to contradict the statement; saw, in fact, support for it leaning at them from every billboard, every movie, every glance. 'Yes,' they had said, 'You are right.' And they took the ugliness in their hands, threw it as a mantle over them, and went about the world with it."

So what if she is a Nobel laureate? So what if she created the most haunting, poignant and unforgettable elegy to the horrors that American slavery spawned?
So what if she has crafted an eleven-year-old, ugly and unfortunate Pecola Breedlove with the utmost sincerity? So what if she has made her ugly and unfortunate Pecola yearn for a shred of love and dignity in vain till her last days? So what if she has tried to shed some light on the unloved, the mercilessly trodden upon rejects of a community caught in the vicious trap of fatal self-loathing? So what if she has thought up a newer way to deconstruct the violence of a sexual crime by removing the convenient 'glamour of shame' routinely heaped on the victim? So what if she has tried to bestow humanity even on the ones beyond redemption? So what if she has offered a window into a world where a million and one injustices compete for primacy every moment?

Such trifling womanly subject matters do not mesh well with the reading tastes of a man! After all, the Doris Lessings and Elfriede Jelineks, Nadine Gordimers and Alice Munros, Zora Neale Hurstons and Zadie Smiths, the Jhumpa Lahiris and the Banana Yoshimotos, the Brontë sisters and Virginia Woolfs, write/wrote books for only women to read and appreciate.
'Women can't paint, women can't write...'

It hurts to know that the Charles Tansleys of the world are alive and well. But, thankfully, we have the Toni Morrisons to restore some balance.
Profile Image for Summer.
298 reviews142 followers
February 7, 2008
Toni Morrison doesn't get the respect she deserves and has rightfully earned. I think that part of this has to do with the unfortunate connotations people have regarding Oprah's Book Club and part of it stems from, if not outright racism and misogyny, than the racist and misogynist assumptions that Morrison is popular only because she is a nonwhite woman, liberal guilt etc. The latter is false: Toni Morrison has won the Pulitzer and the Nobel because she is an excellent author.

N.B. - Before I get jumped on by total strangers for making assumptions about Morrison's detractors, these are actual comments about her books, from Amazon.com:

"Toni Morrison is the most overrated author in America, it's only because of Oprah (the most overrated "personality" in America") that she is popular."

"You know, I know blacks have had a hard time in this world...I'm not naive...but there's a right and wrong way to tell us about your problems. This book is an example of the wrong way. To me it came off as preachy and heavy-handed."

"Once again, Toni Morrison puts an assortment of diatribes and racial angst into book form and masquerades it as literature with a moral message."

"What is actually between the covers of the book is 150 pages of the gross aspects of sex and femine hygene. That is not what makes brillant writing."

"The Bluest Eye does not celebrate the beauty of the black individual but instead simply and grotesquely trashes white characteristics (i.e. blonde-straight hair/blue eyes.) So if a little blonde-haired blue-eyed girl reads this book is she supposed to feel ashamed to have these characteristics?"

"I think it's terrible that Oprah Winfrey would recommend a book as anti-white as this. It's not as bad as some "black" literature that blames everything on white people, but it's close."

It's foolish to assume that the thoughts and experiences of women and of nonwhite American citizens is not worthy of writing about, and reviewers that slam the book as "anti-white" completely miss the point of themes of cultural hegemony, internalized hatred, taboos in beauty and sexuality, oppression, etc. And it's just darned lazy to discount this book's beautiful use of multiple narratives and excellent turns of phrase.

Morrison's literature often makes me angry and depressed, but not as angry and depressed as some of the reviews it gets.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,533 followers
April 4, 2022
Toni Morrison is one of my favorite authors. I discovered her writing with Beloved for which have a copy signed by her at a reading in Brooklyn of Jazz decades ago. In The Bluest Eye, she looks at the intersection of racism, self-hatred, poverty, and sexuality with realism and her beautifully descriptive writing style.

The book starts off with one of Toni Morisson's typically powerful opening lines:
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. (loc. 110) We see this flower analogy towards the end of the novel again.

Beautiful but hopeless prose:
Our innocence and faith were no more productive than his lust or despair. (loc. 118) as well as
There is really nothing more to say—except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how. (loc. 121)

A beautiful metaphor for living in a racist society:
Being a minority in both caste and class, we moved about anyway on the hem of life, struggling to consolidate our weaknesses and hang on, or to creep singly up into the major folds of the garment. (loc 235)

I liked the feminist message in this paragraph on how girls are given dolls to instruct them subconsciously in their future roles as caretakers (thus why I didn't buy dolls for my daughter):
I was interested only in humans my own age and size, and could not generate any enthusiasm at the prospect of being a mother. Motherhood was old age, and other remote possibilities. I learned quickly, however, what I was expected to do with the doll: rock it, fabricate storied situations around it, even sleep with it. Picture books were full of little girls sleeping with their dolls. Raggedy Ann dolls usually, but they were out of the question. I was physically revolted by and secretly frightened of those round moronic eyes, the pancake face, and orangeworms hair. (loc. 265)

The beautiful difference between what people think she wants and what she really wants:
Had any adult with the power to fulfill my desires taken me seriously and asked me what I wanted, they would have known that I did not want to have anything to own, or to possess any object. I wanted rather to feel something on Christmas day. The real question would have been, “Dear Claudia, what experience would you like on Christmas?” I could have spoken up, “I want to sit on the low stool in Big Mama’s kitchen with my lap full of lilacs and listen to Big Papa play his violin for me alone.” (loc. 287)

How mass-culture is used to instill a racist hierarchy of beauty and value:
The best hiding place was love. Thus the conversion from pristine sadism to fabricated hatred, to fraudulent love. It was a small step to Shirley Temple. I learned much later to worship her, just as I learned to delight in cleanliness, knowing, even as I learned, that the change was adjustment without improvement. (loc. 304)

Wow, this is one mean, low-down couch!
It withheld the refreshment in a sleep slept on it. It imposed a furtiveness on the loving done on it. Like a sore tooth that is not content to throb in isolation, but must diffuse its own pain to other parts of the body—making breathing difficult, vision limited, nerves unsettled, so a hated piece of furniture produces a fretful malaise that asserts itself throughout the house and limits the delight of things not related to it. (loc. 495)

Brutal about how we feel we are perceived modifies behavior and thinking and reinforces poverty:
They lived there because they were poor and black, and they stayed there because they believed they were ugly. Although their poverty was traditional and stultifying, it was not unique. But their ugliness was unique...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. (loc. 505, 511)

How our dreams eventually lose out to reality:
This family, on a Saturday morning in October, began, one by one, to stir out of their dreams of affluence and vengeance into the anonymous misery of their storefront. (loc. 520)

Fascinating, the two Christs here:
(Cholly was beyond redemption, of course, and redemption was hardly the point—Mrs. Breedlove was not interested in Christ the Redeemer, but rather Christ the Judge.) (loc. 555)

How hate can be self-sustaining:
Hating her, he could leave himself intact. (loc. 562)

The downward spiral of toxic masculinity:
Even a half-remembrance of this episode, along with myriad other humiliations, defeats, and emasculations, could stir him into flights of depravity that surprised himself—but only himself. Somehow he could not astound. He could only be astounded. So he gave that up, too. (loc. 565)

The eye analogy is, naturally, one of the most important throughout the entire book:
Try as she might, she could never get her eyes to disappear. So what was the point? They were everything. Everything was there, in them. All of those pictures, all of those faces. (loc. 599)

Pecola was, for me, a truly heartbreaking character:
Each night, without fail, she prayed for blue eyes. Fervently, for a year she had prayed. Although somewhat discouraged, she was not without hope. To have something as wonderful as that happen would take a long, long time. Thrown, in this way, into the binding conviction that only a miracle could relieve her, she would never know her beauty. She would see only what there was to see: the eyes of other people. (loc. 616)

The problem of peaking too early and being considered a weed instead of a flower:
Nobody loves the head of a dandelion. Maybe because they are so many, strong, and soon. (loc. 626)

Sad description, but so apt:
She looks up at him and sees the vacuum where curiosity ought to lodge. And something more. The total absence of human recognition—the glazed separateness. (loc. 643)

There is always humanity and humor in Morisson's work:
“Well, this hippo had a ball back in Chicago. Whoa Jesus, ninety-nine!” “How come you always say ‘Whoa Jesus’ and a number?” Pecola had long wanted to know. “Because my mama taught me never to cuss.” “Did she teach you not to drop your drawers?” China asked. “Didn’t have none,” said Marie. “Never saw a pair of drawers till I was fifteen, when I left Jackson and was doing day work in Cincinnati. My white lady gave me some old ones of hers. I thought they was some kind of stocking cap. I put it on my head when I dusted. When she saw me, she liked to fell out.” (p. 729)

A poignant description of winter:
By the time this winter had stiffened itself into a hateful knot that nothing could loosen, something did loosen it, or rather someone. A someone who splintered the knot into silver threads that tangled us, netted us, made us long for the dull chafe of the previous boredom. (loc. 800)

The mystery of racism to children:
What was the secret? What did we lack? Why was it important? And so what? Guileless and without vanity, we were still in love with ourselves then. We felt comfortable in our skins, enjoyed the news that our senses released to us, admired our dirt, cultivated our scars, and could not comprehend this unworthiness. (loc. 983)

How a town's name can make some people dream:
When you ask them where they are from, they tilt their heads and say “Mobile” and you think you’ve been kissed. They say “Aiken” and you see a white butterfly glance off a fence with a torn wing. They say “Nagadoches” and you want to say “Yes, I will.” You don’t know what these towns are like, but you love what happens to the air when they open their lips and let the names ease out. (loc. 1069)

This is so beautiful:
That is what she herself did. But to find out the truth about how dreams die, one should never take the word of the dreamer. (loc. 1424) as is this:
She had not known there was so much laughter in the world. (p. 1498)

Ostensibly, this paragraph is about rotting teeth, but it is also about how repeated violence rots out the inside of many, many women:
And then she lost her front tooth. But there must have been a speck, a brown speck easily mistaken for food but which did not leave, which sat on the enamel for months, and grew, until it cut into the surface and then to the brown putty underneath, finally eating away to the root, but avoiding the nerves, so its presence was not noticeable or uncomfortable. Then the weakened roots, having grown accustomed to the poison, responded one day to severe pressure, and the tooth fell free, leaving a ragged stump behind. But even before the little brown speck, there must have been the conditions, the setting that would allow it to exist in the first place. (loc. 1501)

Such a wise deconstruction of romantic love and physical beauty in society's eyes:
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. (loc. 1572)

The horror of a white hospital treating black pregnant women:
When he got to me he said now these here women you don’t have any trouble with. They deliver right away and with no pain. Just like horses. The young ones smiled a little. They looked at my stomach and between my legs. They never said nothing to me. Only one looked at me. Looked at my face, I mean. I looked right back at him. He dropped his eyes and turned red. He knowed, I reckon, that maybe I weren’t no horse foaling. (loc. 1607)

Beautiful description of freedom:
They were, in fact and at last, free. And the lives of these old black women were synthesized in their eyes—a purée of tragedy and humor, wickedness and serenity, truth and fantasy. (loc. 1794)

One of Toni's more ingenious sentences in this wonderful novel:
Only they would know how to connect the heart of a red watermelon to the asafetida bag to the muscadine to the flashlight on his behind to the fists of money to the lemonade in a Mason jar to a man called Blue and come up with what all of that meant in joy, in pain, in anger, in love, and give it its final and pervading ache of freedom. (loc. 2076)

I had to look up 'Moirai' which turns out to mean 'the Fates':
Public fact becomes private reality, and the seasons of a Midwestern town become the Moirai of our small lives. (loc. 2395)

Incredibly powerful passages continued:
I thought about the baby that everybody wanted dead, and saw it very clearly. It was in a dark, wet place, its head covered with great O’s of wool, the black face holding, like nickels, two clean black eyes, the flared nose, kissing-thick lips, and the living, breathing silk of black skin. (loc. 2433)

A little black girl yearns for the blue eyes of a little white girl, and the horror at the heart of her yearning is exceeded only by the evil of fulfillment. (loc. 2659)

Even her waking dreams we used—to silence our own nightmares. And she let us, and thereby deserved our contempt. We honed our egos on her, padded our characters with her frailty, and yawned in the fantasy of our strength. (loc. 2676)

The sad fate of Pecola:
We substituted good grammar for intellect; we switched habits to simulate maturity; we rearranged lies and called it truth, seeing in the new pattern of an old idea the Revelation and the Word. She, however, stepped over into madness, a madness which protected her from us simply because it bored us in the end. (loc. 2680)

A beautiful, sad ending:
And Cholly loved her. I’m sure he did. He, at any rate, was the one who loved her enough to touch her, envelop her, give something of himself to her. But his touch was fatal, and the something he gave her filled the matrix of her agony with death. Love is never any better than the lover. Wicked people love wickedly, violent people love violently, weak people love weakly, stupid people love stupidly, but the love of a free man is never safe. There is no gift for the beloved. The lover alone possesses his gift of love. The loved one is shorn, neutralized, frozen in the glare of the lover’s inward eye. (loc 2683)

This book should probably be considered post-modern in the sense that the narration moves from character to character and it is up to the reader to intuit the speaker and the time at which the action is happening.

True love as represented by the blue eyes and blond hair seen in the movies frequented by Frieda and Claudia as well as Pauline and most of all, Pecola, is as inaccessible as their parents' understanding leading them to either steel themselves against feeling like their mothers have or go insane:

Pauline: "It would be for her the well-spring from which she would draw the most destructive emotions, deceiving the lover and seeking to imprison the beloved, curtailing freedom in every way."

As Wright and Ellison had described as well, life in the North was not a safehaven free from racism. Cholly was just as invisible in Ohio as he would have been in Mobile. The White ticket counter is still forbidden him when he buys his ticket to see his father. His Aunt and the women that raised him "ran the house of white people, and knew it. When white men beat their men, they cleaned up the blood and went home to receive abuse from the victim."

The cycle of violence feeds on itself leading to tragic consequences for each of the characters.
In today's amerikkka of immigration quotas, race-baiting, and continued white police-on-black violence, The Bluest Eye still remains as relevant today as when Toni Morrison published it in 1970 - 23 years before 1993, the year she was justly awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. It really is a must read.

Fino's Toni Morrison Reviews:
The Bluest Eye
Sula
Song Of Solomon
Tar Baby
Beloved
Jazz
Paradise

Profile Image for Thu.
8 reviews8 followers
June 26, 2008
When we finished this book, about half the class--- including me--- were infuriated at Morrison for humanizing certain characters that caused Pecola to suffer the most. "Is she saying what they did was okay?! Is she telling us they weren't to blame and we should feel sorry for them?!" I remember writing my "objective" and "tone-neutral" in-class essay while trying to stifle my own feelings of resentment.

I know now that the answers to those two questions were no and no. What Morrison wanted us to do was not pardon the terrible acts of her characters, or brush them off as "simply tragedy" but to understand where these characters came from psychologically, and what made them the the way they are. People are driven by motivations, sometimes selfless, sometimes self-serving, and sometimes cruel. When I think about this now, I'm absolutely floored. I don't think any work of fiction has ever taught me this huge a lesson about human nature than this one.

Morrison is a brilliant writer and this will probably always be one of my favorite novels.
Profile Image for brian   .
248 reviews2,976 followers
August 7, 2019
well, i'm experiencing severe bookface fatigue and wasn't gonna report on this until i read this cool-as-shit bookster's review:

http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/36813

she checked out the reviews on amazon for the bluest eye and listed some excerpts:


"Toni Morrison is the most overrated author in America, it's only because of Oprah (the most overrated "personality" in America") that she is popular."

"You know, I know blacks have had a hard time in this world...I'm not naive...but there's a right and wrong way to tell us about your problems. This book is an example of the wrong way. To me it came off as preachy and heavy-handed."

"Once again, Toni Morrison puts an assortment of diatribes and racial angst into book form and masquerades it as literature with a moral message."

"What is actually between the covers of the book is 150 pages of the gross aspects of sex and femine hygene. That is not what makes brillant writing."

"The Bluest Eye does not celebrate the beauty of the black individual but instead simply and grotesquely trashes white characteristics (i.e. blonde-straight hair/blue eyes.) So if a little blonde-haired blue-eyed girl reads this book is she supposed to feel ashamed to have these characteristics?"

"I think it's terrible that Oprah Winfrey would recommend a book as anti-white as this. It's not as bad as some "black" literature that blames everything on white people, but it's close."



people are dicks. yeah, not too controversial. genocide and war and rape and stalin and the crusades and inquisition and blah fucking blah. yeah, i know. we also have amnesty international and the sistine chapel and mexican food and rosario dawson. but you read the above and kinda wish that the fear and war-mongerers are right and that iran would just nuke out the whole planet.

ahem... anyway. i'm not here to answer the jackass prickfucks who find the bluest eye to be racist or 'anti-white' or a 'masquerade'... they're just idiots. it's this whole oprah thing. i mean... these are the same kinds of fools who get very smug and happy attacking the literary canon while sucking off equally canonized 'outsiders' such as hunter thompson, thomas pynchon, DFW, etc... (writers i enjoy but have no illusion that they're any more the outsider than is john updike) -- in other words: people who feel it's any different to deliberately swim against the stream as it is to swim with it.

so. all you haters of oprah's bookclub. a favor. please. just SHUT UP ALREADY. or is it just so irritating that oprah put leo tolstoy on the nytimes best seller list? and faulkner? and garcia marquez? yeah, that's some evil shit. i mean, getting hockey moms to read the road rather than some shit with fabio on the cover (sorry hockey moms) has gotta be up there with the alien and sedition act in terms of evils perpetrated on the good citizens of this country.
Profile Image for Rowena.
500 reviews2,463 followers
June 24, 2016
"Being a minority in both caste and class, we moved about anyway on the hem of life, struggling to consolidate our weaknesses and hang on, or to creep singly up into the major folds of the garment. Our peripheral existence, however, was something we had learned to deal with--probably because it was abstract."- Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

I'm rereading Morrison's books in chronological order in 2016 and I created a private group here on Goodreads for a few of us who are interested in doing the same thing. Discussing this book with others has been very interesting because we all have different perspectives and can share them, expanding our own understanding of the book, it's been a great experience.

It's been four years since I first read The Bluest Eye and I was extremely touched and saddened by it the first time around. I count it as one of my favourite Morrison books and I'm glad to say that after a reread it's still very much so. I'm trying hard to find the words to describe how I feel about this book and it's still hard because it's a gut-wrenching book which I love, though "love" sounds like the wrong word for it: how can I love a book that is filled with so much pain, sadness and grief? This book condenses so much tragedy, despair and sadness in a relatively small space. What do you focus on? It can get a bit overwhelming. Morrison's advice seems to be: "There is really nothing more to say--except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how."

Whenever I discuss this book with people I know, Pecola is often the first name that comes up. Pecola, the poor, unloved child who prayed for blue eyes. It was hard not to draw comparisons between her and Celie (The Colour Purple), another abused black girl who was called ugly by all those around her. And I think of all the little black girls I've known who hated being black, who hated their hair, their noses, their eye colour, who prayed for "good hair", lighter skin complexion etc.

Morrison shows the vulnerability of children so well, and the consequences of parents not telling them what they need to know in enough detail, which results in them being forced to draw conclusions on their own. What they aren't told, they glean from observations and discussions with each other. Sometimes the truth isn't known until they are older:

"My mother's anger humiliates me; her words chafe my cheeks, and I am crying. I do not know that she is not angry at me, but at my sickness."

There are so many parts of the book that show children as voiceless, black children in particular. There's the issue of representation and how the white dolls our parents thought we wanted probably did more harm than good. I think this is an important book in revealing the other America.

My book had an afterword by Morrison which I'm so glad I read. I had no idea that this book was inspired by a conversation she'd had with an elementary school friend who prayed for blue eyes. It's conversations like this that never leave you, it seems, but it might take you until you are an adult to understand the true meaning of what those words held and what they say about our society. Like Malcolm X asked, "Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet?"

"And twenty years later I was still wondering about how one learns that. Who told her? Who made her feel that it was better to be a freak than what she was? Who had looked at her and found her so wanting, so small a weight on the beauty scale?...I focused, therefore, on how something as grotesque as the demonization of an entire race could take root inside the most delicate member of society: a child; the most vulnerable member: a female."- Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye afterword
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
January 1, 2022
(Book 365 from 1001 books) - The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison

The Bluest Eye is a novel written by Toni Morrison in 1970. Morrison, a single mother of two sons, wrote the novel while she taught at Howard University. The novel is set in 1941 and centers around the life of a young African-American girl named Pecola who grows up during the years following the Great Depression in Lorain, Ohio. Due to Pecola's harsh characteristics and dark skin, she is consistently regarded as "ugly".

As a result, she develops an inferiority complex, which fuels her desire for the blue eyes she equates with "whiteness". The point of view of the novel switches between the perspective of Claudia MacTeer, the daughter of Pecola's foster parents, and a third-person narrator with inset narratives in the first person. Due to controversial topics in the book including racism, incest, and child molestation, there have been numerous attempts to ban it from schools and libraries.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز هشتم ماه سپتامبر سال2008میلادی

عنوان: آبی ترين چشم؛ نویسنده: تونی موریسون؛ مترجم: نیلوفر شیدمهر؛ علی آذرنگ (جباری)؛ تهران، دریچه، سال1385؛ در264ص؛ شابک9648072043؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده20م

عنوان: آبی ترين چشم؛ نویسنده: تونی موریسون؛ مترجم: کیومرث پارسای؛ تهران، نشر علم، سال1385؛ در310ص؛ شابک96484056205؛

هشدار برای آنها که کتاب را هنوز نخوانده اند، اگر میخواهید کتاب را بخوانید لطفا سطرهای پایانی این نوشتار را نخوانید ...؛

راوی داستان، دخترکی با صداقت، و صمیمیت کودکان نابالغ است؛ زندگی خانواده‌ ی «بریدلاو»؛ شخصیت محوری اصلی ��ثر: «پکولا بریدلاو»، از همین خانواده ‌ی محروم و آواره سر درمیآورد؛ «پکولا بریدلاو»، دختری است که به تازگی دوران بلوغ را تجربه کرده، او در خانواده ‌ای با نگرش‌ها، رفتارها، و کردارهای پر از تضاد، چشم به جهان گشوده، که اعضای آن تنها در هم‌نژاد بودن و هم‌خانواده بودن اشتراک دارند؛ اعضای خانواده، ستمی دوگانه ـ از سوی نژاد برتر و پدر خانواده ـ را بر دوش خود همواره احساس می‌کنند؛ و این ستم را بیش از همه پیکر نحیف و بی‌گناه «پکولا»، دختر نوجوان بی‌دفاع، تحمل میکند؛

پدر، یک‌بار خانه را آتش میزند، و افراد خانواده را آواره و بیخانمان میکند؛ یک‌بار نیز، دنیایی از درد و رنج را بر سر دختر بیچاره ی خویش، آوار میکند؛ دختر با آرزویی بزرگ در دل؛ اینکه چشمانی آبی، هم‌چون دخترکان سفیدپوست داشته باشد، زنده میماند؛ او آبیترین چشمان دنیا را میخواهد؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 10/10/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 10/10/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,113 reviews44.4k followers
June 20, 2018
I’ve read a lot of fucked things in literature, though it is extremely rare that I read something so messed up that it makes me hate the book.

It takes a lot to put me off. I read Lolita without any complaints about the paedophilia because sometimes it is necessary to show despicable things in order to create art. I’ve read stage pieces by Sarah Kane which involve genital mutilation and all sorts of brutal sex acts, but, again, it was necessary for the piece. Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus centres on a very brutal rape, that much so that people fainted when it was performed (and that was in 2014 at Shakespeare’s Globe in London), though it was needed for the nature of the revenge plot.

However, sometimes the brutality can be a little too much. This book contains an explicit child rape scene and vivid animal cruelty. Granted, you could make the same argument to defend The Bluest Eye as I did for the texts I mentioned above though, for me, it was just too awful to read. The scenes held absolutely nothing back. I am not a person easily shocked or put off by such things, though it was too much even for me.

The Republic of Wine is the only other book to make me feel this unnerved (because of baby cannibalism.) It made me want to vomit as the writing here did.

The Bluest Eye was way too much for me. It was overly symbolic, melodramatically brutal and displayed no hope or optimism. I did not enjoy a single page.
Profile Image for Read By RodKelly.
205 reviews754 followers
January 23, 2019
Here is the little black girl. She has dreams and a fertile imagination. She is a potential conduit for excellence in the world. But she is the inheritor of pathological trauma that is centuries old. She is born to parents who are too busy licking their wounds and tending to their own pain to extend anything resembling love in her direction. So she believes she is unlovable, and is subsequently rendered invisible and therefore a perfect target to absorb the abuses of a society of self-hating, oppressed people who need to pour their sorrows into the vessel with the most cracks: the innocent (in their eyes, contemptible) black girl. Never realizing that people who don't love themselves can never love anybody else. So her cracks multiply and she breaks apart and spills over and she gets blamed for not being pristine by the very people who broke her.

"This soil is bad for certain kinds of flowers. Certain seeds it will not nurture, certain fruit it will not bear, and when the land kills of its own volition, we acquiesce and say the victim had no right to live. We are wrong, of course, but it doesn't matter. It's too late."
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,133 reviews8,138 followers
February 26, 2015
3.5/5 stars

I found The Bluest Eye to be structurally disjointed but fluidly written. Each sentence bled into the next, urging the reader to press on amidst a heartbreaking, convicting story of rejection, self-loathing, and ultimately, complete violation. It's not easy, or particularly enjoyable, to read. But Morrison cracks open this sort of taboo topic, choosing to highlight a character whose story often goes untold: that of an ugly, black girl.

But Pecola, our main character, doesn't even get to tell her own story. The novel breaks down into seasons, starting with Autumn, and is narrated by a neighbor girl and her sister. As the story progresses, we get backstories on major characters: Pecola's mother, father, and various people in their hometown of Lorain, Ohio.

While I loved the prose--there's no denying Morrison's skill with words, especially as this is her first novel--I found myself having trouble fully engaging in the story. As Pecola's story unfolds, we realize that she is helpless to deal with the pain she is going through, and she internalizes it. She isn't even helped by the people in her life who should be able to help her, because they have their own pain to deal with.

This isolation Pecola feels kept me at a distance from her, combined with the fact that we don't get to hear from Pecola herself at all. And by the end I was a bit let down. During the afterword of the novel, written by Morrison herself, she says regarding the structure, "My solution--break the narrative into parts that had to be reassembled by the reader--semed to me a good idea, the execution of which does not satisfy me now. Besides, it didn't work: many readers remained touched but not moved."

I think, therein, lies my exact problem with this book. That isn't to say that this book isn't worth reading, or that it doesn't achieve anything that it sets out to achieve. Instead, I felt so detached and confused by the structuring of the story, that I missed out on the emotion that was being expressed.

It's an excellent novel, nonetheless, but it's also a first one; I anticipate in reading more of Morrison, I will grow to understand her writing, as I often do in reading more from the works of an author. And I would argue, as many people recommended to me, it's a good place to start with Morrison.
Profile Image for Kenny.
494 reviews863 followers
December 22, 2021
4.5/5

“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.”
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

1

I have several reading goals for 2019 ~~ get some big books off my Want to Read list, explore more Asian writing, and visit authors I have missed along my reading journey. One of the most glaring omissions on this list was Toni Morrison. So, with the advice of my friend, Rowena, I selected THE BLUEST EYE to right that wrong. I am wowed by Morrison's writing talents. I wish I'd have ventured to her world sooner.

THE BLUEST EYE may well be the saddest book I have ever read. Upon finishing this novel I felt like I'd been sucker punched. The events that took place in this world were devastating. Morrisson's novel is as far from the childhood world Ray Bradbury created in Dandelion Wine as imaginable. Both took place in the Midwest in the late 20's / early 30's, and focus on childhood. This, is where the similarities end.

As painful as this book is to read at times, it is a beautifully written novel. Morrison is a poet at heart.

1

The story is told by a minor character, Claudia, a young girl and friend of Pecola’s; her innocence offers a rawness to the story that would have been lost if narrated by Pecola or an older character. Morrison brilliantly uses the passing of the seasons to tell this story. Each season take place in a different time period and follows a different character in her or his life; we learn the back stories of Pecola's people through this. In the final pages of this book, we see how all these people make up parts of Pecola’s story.

Morrison writes of race better than any other writer I can think of. She touches not on race in general, but writes about various themes regarding race here, the central theme being that Pecola’s desire for blue eyes is showing the social context that views blue eyes, which in this case is the epitome of whiteness, as the standard of beauty. Every girl black or white should strive to be like Shirley Temple.

Morrison also deftly writes on parenting and family dynamics. When Claudia faces an unwanted event in her home, her parents act swiftly to protect their daughter. When a far more tragic event happens to Pecola, her mother beats and blames her.

The main theme of THE BLUEST EYE is not simply racism, but internalized racism. The main characters in Morrison's novel have been conditioned to believe in their own inferiority. No one suffers this more than Pecola. Even members of her own race put her down for being ugly and for the darkness of her skin.

In the end, Morrison forces us to walk in Pecola's shoes and learn of the painful world she inhabits, and she does so brilliantly.

1
Profile Image for Julie G .
883 reviews2,742 followers
June 22, 2022
I have a new friend here in North Carolina who's originally from Ohio. She's a well-read lady who is savvy on the topics of both spiritual reads and literary fiction, so when I saw her yesterday, I said, “Hey, I'm wrapping up Toni Morrison's THE BLUEST EYE right now. Have you read it?”

She surprised me by saying, “No. I've actually never read anything of hers.”

I was like, “Dude, you're from Ohio! She's the best writer that the state of Ohio has ever produced. How have you never read her work?”

She said, “I know. I know,” and she wrote down THE BLUEST EYE on the notepad that was in front of her. Then she asked, “So, it's wonderful?”

I bit my lip.

“Um, no, it's not wonderful. I mean. . . it's some of the best writing you'll ever read in your life, but I wouldn't describe it as wonderful.”

She was like, “But it's great, obviously.”

I started to rub an eyebrow. “Well, no, I wouldn't call it great. I mean. . . the writing is great, but it's like. . .” I couldn't finish my sentence.

She looked like she was ready to draw a solid line through the title, but instead she asked, “What's it about?”

I started to pick lint off of my black yoga pants. “Um. . . like rape. And incest. Animal abuse. Poverty.”

She raised her eyebrows.

I could see I was losing my audience. “But the writing is amazing. I think she's the best female writer ever to come out of the U.S.”

She nodded her head and said, “I've always meant to read something of hers.”

I nodded my head back. “Yeah,” I hesitated. “But, like, be warned if you ever read Beloved. It's the scariest story you'll ever read. You should probably start with this one. It was actually her debut.”

She looked doubtful and said, “The one that's about rape and incest and animal abuse?”

“Yeah.”

We looked at each other, then started talking about Louise Hay.

As we talked, she started to doodle on her notepad. By the time I stood up to walk out the door, I could no longer make out the title on the piece of paper.
Profile Image for Felice Laverne.
Author 1 book3,202 followers
March 1, 2017
...his mother did not like him to play with niggers. She had explained to him the difference between colored people and niggers. They were easily identifiable. Colored people were neat and quiet; niggers were dirty and loud...The line between colored and nigger was not always clear; subtle and telltale signs threatened to erode it, and the watch had to be constant.

While I was not the biggest fan of Morrison's style in this novel, I did fully appreciate the dagger-sharp insight that she brought to the color caste system that is so prevalent in African-American culture, even today. Her dialogue rang so true, I could hear it coming directly out of my mother's mouth, my grandmother's mouth, and those of all of the women who've ever filled our kitchens with raucous communal fun and glum communal tragedy alike. Her use of the Dick & Jane children's books, used for decades to teach children to read (SEEMOTHERMOTHERISVERYNICEMOTHERWILLYOUPLAYWITHJANEMOTHERLAUGHSLAUGHMOTHERLAUGHLA) created a chilling, ironic and staggering contrast between the lives of the whites and those of the blacks in this novel. Shirley Temple, Mary Jane candies, and Jean Harlow hairstyles - you'll find the delicacy of all of them here, both in these characters' reality and in metaphor. While the truth and injustices here were often sobering to read, they were filled with too much truth to rightfully deny or turn away from.

I could spend hours discussing this novel. I could quote from it all day, but I won't do that, because the entire read was poignant and so crisply aware of the color line - the how and the why - that there is no one point that can overshadow another in the message that these words aimed to send. This novel is older than I am, and yet it still rings with such verity, with such biting truth and reality. With The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison cut open the existence of both internalized and externalized racism in America and laid it bare and exposed at our feet. For that, she deserves nothing but reverence and applause, so she will always have that from me.

Anyone who's ever been in doubt of a color line in Black America should read this book. Anyone who's ever questioned, "But why can't I say those words when you say them all the time? But why do you still believe that racism exists? Why can't you just get over it - the past is the past?" should read this book. In fact, just read this book anyway - how about that? :) *****
Profile Image for KB.
16 reviews10 followers
January 28, 2023
This is going to be a very; very long critical review of a so-called 'African American classic'...So there you have been warned...

First, I want to say that I didn't have to read this book for a school/college project, or anything. I had just finished reading the memoir "Black Boy" by Richard Wright (which has turned into my favorite most relatable black memoirs of all time). This was given to me by a close relative who loves reading too. Every other black person I've seen (especially the conscious brand) tells me this is a "African American classic". I just don't see it, at all...

I do not want to write a mean review because if I were to be the author of this book, I would much prefer constructive criticism and not just 'hating'.

To the author's credit, she's very good at getting her audience's attention even from the very first chapter, and she knows how to turn anything she creates into poetry. She has a very good way with words and making her writing sounds sophisticated and artistic. So those are her pointers.

Now to to the critical bits...

Problem #1: It feels Toni's method to gaining reader's attention, is being unnecessarily and forcibly lewd, pornographic, and perverted. It comes across purely obnoxious, as if she’s begging to get a reaction out of the reader.

There wasn't any need to describe Mr. Soaphead’s sexual encounters with the little girls he's molested, in the detail that Toni did. The readers didn't need to know that he had nibbled the nipples (or "tits" as Toni vulgarly described) of prepubescent girls, and 'played with their vulvas while they were eating ice-cream'. We get it, he abuses little girls. If you want to create a monster, you can talk about his lusts for children, and only notify the readers that he has indeed abused little girls before, but you do not have to turn your novel into explicit erotica for pedophiles.

It makes the readers question where your mind is. Especially when not only can you write things this incredibly filthy, but you also goes as far to do the worse/disgusting thing you can possibly do when discussing rape/molestation, by insinuating that the little girls welcomed the the rape and molestation. Yes, Toni Morrison did this.

“The little girls are the only things I’ll miss. Do you know that when I touched their sturdy little t*ts and bit them—just a little—I felt I was being friendly?—If I’d been hurting them, would they have come back? . . . they’d eat ice cream with their legs open while I played with them. It was like a party.”


The RAPE scene involving Cholly and his daughter was over the top, vulgar, disgusting and furthermore downright disturbing.

"“A bolt of desire ran down his genitals…and softening the lips of his anus. . . . He wanted to f*ck her—tenderly. But the tenderness would not hold. The tightness of her vagina was more than he could bear. His soul seemed to slip down his guts and fly out into her, and the gigantic thrust he made into her then provoked the only sound she made. Removing himself from her was so painful to him he cut it short and snatched his genitals out of the dry harbor of her vagina. She appeared to have fainted"


Again I repeat- THIS IS HER DESCRIPTION OF A MAN RAPING HIS DAUGHTER.

What is this? Child Porn??? What is the point of describing incestuous rape of a frightened eleven year old girl by her father, as ‘tender’? Why is she laboring over the details of a child’s genitalia and sexual responses? Does she honestly believe this a appropriate description of a child being raped by her father?

The long-winded sex description between Mr. Cholly and Pauline was also unnecessary, but it would have been forgivable it hadn't been for this line:

"I knew he wanted for me to come first.."


Again, vulgar much? To make it worse, no one referred to orgasming as "coming" in the early 19th century. Seriously, Toni....

Re-explaining the situation with Cholly being caught having sex with his cousin's friend, while whites stood watching and telling him "give it to her harder", was pointless. Toni had already summarized how this had happened earlier in the book. What was the point of re-explaining it, especially when the event wasn’t that significant?

Additionally, what was the significance spending an entire page and a half explaining how a unimportant side character had never experienced a orgasm, when this character only role in the protagonist's life is warding her away and calling her a "bitch" for 'killing' her pet?

It seemed throughout all of the book Toni went into the most detail explaining the sex between the characters, and priests "nibbling on the nipples of little girls", more than the actual development of these characters. No offense to her, but they aren't relatable , interesting, or believable.They're blank slates in strange sexual situations, none more. None of them had their own personalities, or their own faces.


Problem #2: The way Toni rationalizes her characters' behavior doesn't make sense on any logical basis, whatsoever. This makes her story seem very fake, forced and unbelievable....

A great example of how unbelievable and irrational the motives of her characters are is Cholly's backstory on why he ended up molesting his daughter. Cholly has issues with his broken family and was disowned by his father (like millions of people around the world) and somehow is so socially inept that he can't love his daughter without raping her? Why? How on earth does that make any sense? So many people are raised by relatives and they don’t think raping children. That said, Toni wrote that he had a relationship with a man named Blue, and he was mothered by his great-aunt until she passed away when he was thirteen. Then, he was raised by her brother. That he was loved and protected by these people who raised him. How does being adopted by loving family members, justify raping his kids, because he 'doesn't know better'? how? Especially since he was not molested by any of his caregivers. Where is he getting the idea that forcing himself on his screaming daughter as genuinely being ok? What examples has he learned this behavior from and why isn't that explained in the novel? Toni said that he was a drunkard, so wouldn't it make more sense to write that he was drunk and perhaps confused his daughter for his wife?

For a greater example of how the motivations of the characters do not make sense, is the book premise itself; the main theme doesn't even make sense. Pecola is having issues with society but blames it on her eye color. Ok, I understand her mother treats the little white children she nannies better than her, and I also understand her issues at school and society is because she is dark-skinned therefore perceived ugly. So then would her problem be her dark complexion, and not her eye color? It would make sense if the children her mother nannies had blue eyes, but that was never explained or established in the book, so what the heck? Repeatedly the attention is thrown on the fact that she's black-skinned. So where do the eye part comes from? Am I missing something here?

There is the argument that her eye color is suppose symbolize European standards of beauty, but honestly, I cannot agree. The 'symbolism' seems artificially generated by the author herself, and forced into the culture of her novel's fictional world. Most indigenous societies and the black community itself corrupted by colonialism and European culture, simply desire lighter complexion and silky hair, not specifically 'blue eyes'. Green eyes, and brown eyes are also considered beautiful. I could imagine how this book would fit well into the logic of the protagonist's issues, if the book had focused (as the rest of the book did) on her skin color. This leads me into the next issue...


Problem #3: Unused and wasted opportunity in character use, and plot development. Makes for a pointless underachieving story

- Regarding the protagonist's circumstance and her particular time in American history, I could imagine Toni taking this opportunity to muddle in actual culture examples of forced European beauty standards in American society, by incorporating actual white-centric advertisements of the time, actual white actresses who were considered beautiful at the time, and light-skinned black actresses who were also considered beautiful at the time. She could've somehow relate this and point this out with classic American literature forced on Children, like blonde Cinderella or "white as snow" Sleeping Beauty, and make the protagonist fall into self-loathe by these permanent aspects of princess culture. Pecola could've been desirable and beautiful but rejected for her skin color perhaps? The housewife could be a woman who bleached her skin and somehow resented the protagonist because she reminded her of her former self? Claudia could hate the protagonist because she was beautiful regardless of her dark complexion? The priest could've offered Pecola skin bleaching skin, and Picola could've fallen mentally ill due to some accident due to her excitement of being white. Toni have discussed and incorporated the racist cartoons of the time, that described black children (especially dark skinned children) as ugly buck-toothed big-lipped 'pickaninnies'. Toni could have also incorporated the 'paper bag' test, could have gone on about how the 'hair' culture, among black mothers. And how coarser hair is considered 'ugly'.

It would have also been more historical sound illustration of the beauty standards of the time, and address the actual desperation of black/dark women around the world to be perceived as 'beautiful'


Conclusion

Phonetically this book well-written and has a pleasing flow, but plot wise, there were plot-holes, unnecessary characters who added absolutely nothing to the development of the plot, and filthy explicit unnecessary sexual scenes that additionally added nothing to development of the plot. The theme was loosely about colorism. I read maybe 2 chapters that solidly built on the racial themes, but the rest was merely short stories about unrelated characters. Even Pauline (the mother) herself, only favored the white children she cared for, more than her actual children because of issues with their father, not because they were black. There was so SO many things Toni could have done with this storyline that was ultimately wasted. Instead she dove much deeper talking about how "Cholly's anus lips had softened at the sight of his daughter".

I just.... I don't understand how this book became a beloved classic and won a Nobel Prize. Was it out of political correctness? And wanting to seem 'progressive' by praising any piece of black work that talks about controversial issues? I'm black and I can honestly say this was a disturbing, poorly put together, grotesque book and did absolutely nothing for me but question if the author was secretly a pedophile. It baffles me how many black people praise this, simply because the author is black herself. Its substandard in comparison to other lesser-known black novels that I've read. And I am beyond shock there are people out there who think this is appropriate for middle school and high school kids. YES this book SHOULD have been banned from high schools!! It is not "To Kill A Mocking Bird", folks. For a lot of this book, this book is unnecessary porn, and images that young impressionable teens shouldn't have in their minds! If you want a good book about colorism, I recommend "The Skin I'm In".
Profile Image for Brian.
Author 1 book978 followers
September 3, 2013
I saw this tweet a couple of weeks ago: "Going through life white, male, middle-class and American is like playing a video game on easy mode." For those of us born into this: how many chances do we get to fuck things up and still come out just fine? An almost infinite amount, apparently.

Toni Morrison wants those of us born with that winning life-lotto combo ticket to experience the opposite of that life track in a world that encompasses, in her words, "the far more tragic and disabling consequences of accepting rejection as legitimate, as self-evident." Where life begins in pain, in rejection, in constant on-going humiliation and self-loathing. The ego doesn't ever have a chance. The Bluest Eye provides a window into this world - a viewpoint so that a Reader can see it for all of its ugliness and marvel at those, like Morrison, that overcome this environment and become a thing of beauty.

If you are white male upper-middle class American - a state senator from Alabama with power and a national audience, why would you want to call for the banning of this book, one you have certainly never read? It's fear. This work that Morrison has created: a story of darkness, of hopelessness and of a reality that a white male middle-class American could never come close to understanding is a thing of beauty; the lily that grows in the mound of shit. It speaks truth, it kills the demons by just naming them and it reminds the Reader that for some the miracle of living can be a living nightmare.

Mr. Holtzclaw wants a world where we won't be told of these realities.

I don't want to live in that world.
Profile Image for Michael.
655 reviews966 followers
March 4, 2020
Contemplative and saturated with sorrow, The Bluest Eye reflects on the devastating emotional toll of colorism, poverty, and sexism. In her debut novel Morrison explores the hopes and frustrations of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove, a destitute Black girl living in Ohio who longs to be blonde-haired and blue-eyed, as well as the inner lives of her family members and fellow townsfolk, whose pasts and presents are full of pain. Misery laces nearly every facet of the story, starkly contrasting the writer’s lyrical prose, and after many devastating episodes the plot collapses in irreversible tragedy, with Pecola consumed by self-hatred and abused by all in her life.
Profile Image for David.
260 reviews537 followers
October 16, 2021
Quintessential Morrison. The Bluest Eye is powerful yet opaque. This is a devastating story about internalized hatred, the hegemony of white notions of beautify, and a desperation so pervasive that sexual violence against a child is only one part of the story rather than the pivot around which everything else turns. The evil here is symptomatic and not the cause. This isn’t a light read, but it is vitally important and a cornerstone in the Morrison canon.
Profile Image for Adam Dalva.
Author 8 books1,552 followers
October 29, 2020
Oh my goodness, I loved this book - loved it for the language, of course, Morrison is like Woolf or Forester, in how her sentences can do absolutely anything - but also for the way the plot is structured, for how the central character, Pecola, is the most shown and the least known, and for how the denizens of Lorain, Ohio, even the most immoral ones, are treated with equal measures of sympathy and scrutiny by Morrison. I found myself looking for Pecola, over and over again, and when the narrative finally "finds" her, it is too late. The subject matter is harrowing, so proceed with caution, but the strength of it is absolute.

And it's so weird! The beginning is so weird - the ending too. It takes the big swings that a first novel should, and all too often, doesn't.
Profile Image for Helene Jeppesen.
685 reviews3,642 followers
October 12, 2015
I feel so bad for not liking this book, because I know I'm in the minority, and because I know it deals with some very very important topics! I think it's important that books like these exist, because we need to remember that problems like these exist.
That being said, I strongly disliked the execution of this story. Nothing in this book inspires hope; it's 100% full of brutality, loss, heartbreak and lots of other heavy and heart-breaking topics, and to be honest, I felt like it was way too overdone. I almost couldn't breathe when reading this because it kept telling about disaster after disaster. I needed a little glimpse of hope somewhere, but I didn't get it.
This book is said to be very poetic, and I agree with that. However, once again I felt like it was done in an exaggerated manner. Almost every second sentence had a deeper meaning, and while it was beautiful to read in the beginning, it became too much in the end. Furthermore, Toni Morrison chose to mix together genres and perspectives, and I didn't feel a connection with any of the characters despite what they were going through.
I love beautiful prose and stories with serious topics, but I didn't like this one one bit. I had a very hard time getting through the mere 200 pages of "The Bluest Eye". The two stars are given because of the glimpses of beautiful prose and the ever-important topics that this book deals with, but all in all I can't say that this was a great reading experience.
Profile Image for Fabian.
947 reviews1,562 followers
November 2, 2020
I wonder who the Mexican Toni Morrison is. Her work is very hard to peg down. It remains a wondrous feat to analyze or attempt to define whatever masterpiece of hers you are reading at the time. Alas, Rest In Power...

A definitive stylist, a poet, Morrison is brilliant. There is one scene deeply ingrained somewhere in the schism that is this beautiful book which will stay with me forever. It involves the main character, a little impressionable girl of color-- & it is through her deep, deplorable suffering that we witness the apathy of mankind. This is not just a tale of whites versus blacks. Here, African Americans condemn themselves, as people turn against their own, & in portraits as striking as this one the effect feels like dynamite.
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,159 reviews36.8k followers
June 16, 2020
Many tears were shed while reading “The Bluest Eye” by the great Toni Morrison. During this time of turmoil and strife, I went into this read with a heavy heart and it got oh so much heavier. It was however necessary. There is so much to learn and I thank Ms. Morrison for opening my tear-filled eyes.

This novel explores racism, poverty, assault, and so much more. It is a heart-wrenching story about Pecola Breedlove, an African American girl living in Lorain, Ohio in 1941, who desperately wants to be beautiful. Even her schoolmates Freida and Claudia, whose lives aren’t exactly easy, would describe Pecola as ugly.

For these African American girls, who are given white dolls, with blond hair and blue eyes, beauty is skewed. Pecola would do anything to have “The Bluest Eye”, to be seen as beautiful. To be loved. For Pecola Breedlove, kind, sweet, lonely, innocent Pecola, recognizes far more than she should at her young age. For Frieda and Claudia, their innocence is slowly taken away bit by bit.

Family, friends, relatives, acquaintances. During this time and place. No one had any idea how their actions were taken. No one stopped to think before they took action. Hate is spewed upon those who did not deserve it. Children. Young girls. Innocents. Simply because of the color of their skin.

So many passages in this novel hit home. They gave me pause.., and they made tears runneth over.

“Long hours she sat looking in the mirror, trying to discover the secret of the ugliness, the ugliness that made her ignored or despised at school, by teachers and classmates alike.”

“And something more. The total absence of human recognition—the glazed separateness. She does not know what keeps his glance suspended.”

“She has seen it lurking in the eyes of all white people. So. The distaste must be for her, her blackness.”

“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. 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 humor. Her inarticulateness made us believe we were eloquent. Her poverty kept us generous. Even her waking dreams we used—to silence our own nightmares. And she let us, and thereby deserved our contempt. We honed our egos on her, padded our characters with her frailty, and yawned in the fantasy of our strength”



“The Bluest Eye” is a character driven novel that will leave you with a heavy heart. I recommend this for a book club and it includes difficult subject matters.
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To the “Pecola’s” and Breonna’s of this world. I am so very sorry. I vow to keep reading and educating myself so that I can do better.

Thank you to Toni Morrison for this incredible novel.

Published on Goodreads and Instagram on 6.13.20.
Profile Image for Terrie  Robinson.
396 reviews581 followers
January 19, 2023
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison is the Author's Debut Novel!

In Lorain, Ohio, Pecola Breedlove is an eleven-year-old Black girl who is told often, both directly and indirectly, that she is ugly. Her mother says she was born that way.

Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue. With blue eyes she'll be beautiful. With blue eyes she'll be seen and everything in her world will be different...

The Bluest Eye is an authentic snapshot of a young Black girl who is accepting of the harshest of opinions by others, including her family. Told that she is ugly, weak, and without value to the degree that she may become, in her own mind, the person they tell her she is.

This powerful debut novel is impossible to walk away from without recognizing the brilliance of this author. Toni Morrison's writing is pure beauty, word after word, but this story will rip you to shreds!

The Bluest Eye was first published on June 1, 1970 and favorably reviewed by The New York Times for the author's writing style. The book was slow to take off until City University of New York, along with various other colleges, placed The Bluest Eye on its new Black Studies reading list resulting in a positive lift in sales.

I highly recommend this book to everyone who can read, in whatever format suits your fancy! 5 beautifully written stars! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Profile Image for Celeste Ng.
Author 15 books87k followers
Read
June 9, 2007
This might be the closest thing to a perfect novel that I've ever seen.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews293k followers
December 23, 2021
This soil is bad for certain kinds of flowers. Certain seeds it will not nurture, certain fruit it will not bear, and when the land kills of its own volition, we acquiesce and say the victim had no right to live. We are wrong, of course, but it doesn’t matter. It’s too late.
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
916 reviews13.9k followers
February 17, 2019
tw: domestic abuse, animal abuse & death, incest, pedophilia, rape

wow. this is the first book i've read by morrison and i 100% anticipate i'll read more because every other line is so hard hitting and gorgeously phrased with innovative and genius descriptions, as well as insightful and tragic commentary on why the characters feel and act the way they do. this book's discussion of beauty standards and anger and racism were so relevant and well-articulated. it hit right in the sweet spot of not being too subtle but also not being preachy; i adored the unfolding of this book's message. the multiple POVs and the way this book's narrative was almost told as a satellite around pecola made for a very well-rounded story that went into far deeper discussion than i was anticipating about family and the way toxicity and self-loathing are inherited and then expounded by society. i highly, highly, highly recommend this!
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,194 reviews9,454 followers
May 21, 2019
When I read a history of American literature recently I made a note of the great authors I still hadn’t read yet and here are the ones I listed

Richard Wright
Ralph Ellison
Toni Morrison
Maya Angelou
Alice Walker

Wait a moment, these writers are all African American! What’s going on here? Is this a case of #mybookshelvestoowhite? Even the solitary James Baldwin novel I read was Giovanni’s Room- it happens to be all about European white people.

Well, I think what happened is that I think I thought I already had been exposed to so many fictional representations of black America, from movies and tv - the great films of the late John Singleton, the Hughes Brothers and Spike Lee, plus brilliant tv series Homicide and The Wire and documentaries like 13th and Ken Burns’ documentary Jazz, which neatly brings me to music – no one needs to be told how the popular music of the last 100 years has been propelled forward by the engine of black creativity. So I guess I thought I didn’t need to read these books too. So I thought that might be a little bit lazy, a little bit complacent, and decided to start fixing that with Toni Morrison.

It was a good start. This is a tough minded short novel. It contains several scenes of nasty sex including rape. It’s all about black self-loathing, internalized racism, so that’s why right at the beginning there is a grisly excerpt from a book for little white kids all about the lovely things they might encounter :

See Jane. She has a red dress. She wants to play. Who will play with Jane? See the cat. It goes meow-meow. See Father. He is big and strong. Father, will you play with Jane?

And so on. So, you know, The Bluest Eye is not a happy story. Some will say -another tale of African American woe. And it is, it is. But there was one line which cracked me up. A spiritualist healer type named Soaphead Church gets a visit from a little black girl who asks him to change her eyes from brown to blue. Because blue is beautiful and brown is ugly. He gets mad and sits down to write a formal letter to God. This is how he starts :

Dear God

The purpose of this letter is to familiarize you with facts which either have escaped your notice, or which you have chosen to ignore.


How often I have mentally composed such a letter myself! But never found an appropriate postbox.

SOME THINGS DON’T CHANGE MUCH

This healer guy Soaphead Church has his own printed cards. They say :

If you are overcome with trouble and conditions that are not natural, I can remove them; overcome Spells, Bad Luck, and Evil Influences. Remember, I am a true Spiritualist and a Psychic Reader, born with power, and I will help you. Satisfaction in one visit. … Has the one you love changed? I can tell you why. I will tell you who your enemies and friends are, and if the one you love is true or false. If you are sick, I can show you the way to health. I locate lost and stolen articles. Satisfaction guaranteed.

So that is what they were doing in 1929 in a small town in Ohio. Fast forward to 2018 and hop across the Atlantic – here is a card that was put through my letterbox here in Nottingham, England a year ago :


SH Abdul Rehman

THE MOST RIGHTEOUS TRUTHFUL AFRICAN

I can help solve all your problems in your life. I can bring happiness in your life. I can remove black magic, Bad Luck from your life. . Sh Abdul Rehman can also advice you in all your problems which prove to be difficult, Business Difficulties, Love, Marriage or Relations Problems, or your Loved One has left you or Separated from you without giving any reason. I can help you to bring back happiness in your life. RESULT IS 100% GUARANTEED


Really, the only difference is that Sh Abdul has a mobile phone number.
Profile Image for Jean-Luke.
Author 1 book385 followers
November 10, 2022
[If you haven't watched the documentary Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, do yourself a favor and find it somewhere.]

China, Poland and Miss Marie (also known as The Maginot Line) are surely three of the finest whores in literature. Sure, why not start with that. But they are only three of the gorgeous characters that populate this gorgeous book. This was my first Toni Morrison--it was Toni Morrison's first Toni Morrison--and since she continued writing I will continue reading what she wrote. I initially struggled with this book because I had Pecola in my mind as the protagonist (I officially I hate back cover book summaries) and the narrative seemed to stray quite a bit, encompassing an entire family, an entire community in Lorain, Ohio, and beyond.
Profile Image for leynes.
1,102 reviews2,952 followers
May 11, 2023
The Bluest Eye war das letzte Buch, das ich 2022 beendete. Ich hatte mir in dem Jahr vorgenommen, wieder drei Romane von Morrison zu entdecken. Da ich aber erst im Herbst zu einer ersten Lektüre kam – ich las Tar Baby – wollte ich im Dezember dann wenigstens noch ein Werk schaffen. Ich las The Bluest Eye innerhalb von zwei Tagen, was bei einer Länge von nur 205 Seiten nicht verwunderlich ist; in der Rückschau kommt es mir, aufgrund der Tiefe der Themen, doch etwas schnell vor. Ich hätte mir durchaus mehr Zeit für diesen Roman nehmen können.

Eigentlich lese ich Morrisons Werk in chronologischer Reihenfolge; bisher sparte ich The Bluest Eye jedoch aus, da ich es vermeide über den sexuellen Missbrauch von Kindern zu lesen. Mir ist dieses Thema einfach zu heftig und obwohl es wichtig ist, möchte ich mich damit eigentlich nicht beschäftigen. Da jedoch mein Interesse, Morrisons Gesamtwerk zu erschließen, größer war, als meine Angst vor diesem Thema, fasste ich mir ein Herz und gab dem Roman eine Chance. Was ich sehr erleichternd fand, ist die Tatsache, dass der Missbrauch nur in einer Szene des Romans explizit geschildert wird, ansonsten gibt es zwar viele Referenzen auf Pecolas Schwangerschaft und die Tatsache, dass der Vater der Täter ist, aber im Großen und Ganzen fand ich den Roman aushaltbar.

Ich würde nicht sagen, dass Morrison mit einer besonderen Feinfühligkeit an dieses Thema herangegangen ist, ihre Beschreibungen sind teils schon echt heftig und schroff, aber ich fand diesen eher kahlen und realistischen Blick auf das Thema passend. In der Einführung zu dem Buch, schreibt Morrison: "In exploring the social and domestic aggression that could cause a child to literally fall apart, I mounted a series of rejections, some routine, some exceptional, some monstrous, all the while trying hard to avoid complicity in the demonization process Pecola was subjected to. That is, I did not want to dehumanize the characters who trashed Pecola and contributed to her collapse. One problem was centering the weight of the novel’s inquiry on so delicate and vulnerable a character could smash her and lead readers into the comfort of pitying her rather than into an interrogation of themselves for the smashing."

Und während ich diesen Ansatz verstehe muss ich dennoch sagen, dass ich Morrisons Charakterisierung von Cholly Breedlove, Pecolas Vater und dann Vergewaltiger, nie ganz nachvollziehen konnte. Ich verstehe, warum Morrison kein Interesse daran hatte, ihn als ein unmenschliches Monster zu karikieren – ich selbst bin immer genervt davon, wenn Autor*innen zu moralisierend und "on the nose" sind (da ich mir dann immer denke: "ja, ich kriege das schon noch selbst hin, einen Vergewaltiger zu verurteilen, das braucht mir der*die Autor*in nicht abzunehmen). Dennoch porträtiert Morrison Cholly fast durchweg als, klar, zerrissenen Schwarzen Mann, der nicht für seine Familie sorgen kann, wie er es gerne möchte, aber dennoch deep down als gute Seele, der als einziger Mensch auf dieser Welt seine Tochter liebt. Das ging für mich dann mit seinem späteren unverzeihlichen Gewaltakt überhaupt nicht zusammen. Ich habe mich bisher nicht mit der Psychologie von Sexualstraftäter*innen beschäftigt, aber Cholly ist für mich ein Charakter, der nicht plausibel ist – ich nehme Morrison nicht ab, dass es einen Mann, wie ihn gibt.

Doch fangen wir vielleicht lieber von vorne an:
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.

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.
So lauten die ersten Zeilen des Romans. Sie stammen von Claudia, einer Schulfreundin Pecolas. Die Handlung spielt in Lorain, Ohio, wo Morrison selbst 1932 geboren wurde, und handelt von dem Schwarzen Mädchen Pecola Breedlove, das sich nichts sehnlicher als blaue Augen wünscht, weil es hofft, dann von der eigenen Mutter geliebt zu werden. Pauline Breedlove dient der weißen Familie Fisher als Hausmädchen. Um deren kleine blauäugige Tochter kümmert sie sich rührend. Zu Hause muss sie Waschwasser in Eimern auf dem Herd erhitzen. Bei Familie Fisher badet sie das Kind dagegen in einer Porzellanwanne mit silbrigen Wasserhähnen und reibt es danach mit flauschigen Handtüchern trocken. Bei den Fishers findet Pauline in ihrer untergeordneten Rolle "Macht, Lob und Anerkennung". Für ihre eigene Familie hat sie (verständlicherweise) nach den langen, harten Arbeitstagen keine Energie mehr übrig. Cholly ist ständig betrunken und verprügelt Pauline. In diesem Umfeld ohne Liebe bzw. Zuneigung wächst Pecola mit ihrem Bruder Sammy auf.

Morrison erzählt die Geschichte aus unterschiedlichen Perspektiven und bringt uns alle Charaktere nahe. So erfahren wir, dass auch Cholly eine schwere Kindheit hatte. Als er vier Tage alt war, wickelte ihn seine Mutter in zwei Decken und eine Zeitung und setzte ihn auf einem Müllhaufen aus. Seine Großtante Jimmy beobachtete ihre Nichte, rettete ihn und zog ihn auf. Sein eigener Vater schickte ihn zum Teufel. In seinen Jugendjahren wird Cholly bei seinem ersten Mal von zwei Weißen beobachtet, die ihn dann zwingen für sie den sexuellen Akt nochmal zu performen. Diese Demütigung scheint Cholly nie überwunden zu haben.

In der Beziehung zu Pauline fand er keine Zuflucht, sondern nur einen Käfig. Er trinkt und schlägt sie. Sie übernimmt die volle Verantwortung (und Anerkennung) als Brotverdiener der Familie. Morrison schreibt über diese Dynamik: "If Cholly had stopped drinking, she would never have forgiven Jesus. She needed Cholly’s sins desperately." und "Holding Cholly as a model of sin and failure, she bore him like a crown of thorns, and her children like a cross." Die Eheleute scheinen in diesem toxischen Geflecht, das sich gegenseitig füttert, gefangen.

Und schließlich begeht Cholly den unverzeihlichen Akt und vergewaltigt seine elfjährige Tochter. Das Baby kommt zu früh zur Welt und lebt nur kurz. Auch Cholly stirbt. Und Pecola wird verrückt. Erst der Wahnsinn schützt sie vor den anderen Menschen.

In der Einführung schreibt Morrison: "When I began writing The Bluest Eye, I was interested in something else. Not resistance to the contempt of others, ways to deflect it, but the far more tragic and disabling consequences of accepting rejection as legitimate, as self-evident. … there are some who collapse, silently, anonymously, with no voice to express or acknowledge it. They are invisible."

Und das hat Morrison mit diesem Roman geschafft. Es ist kein Meisterwerk geworden. Nicht verwunderlich, schließlich ist es ihr Debut. Und im Vergleich zu ihren späteren Werken weist The Bluest Eye definitiv Schwächen auf, aus denen Morrison später lernte. Sie selbst fand die Struktur des Romans im Nachhinein nicht gelungen. Und da würde ich ihr Recht geben. Die unterschiedlichen Perspektiven, auktorial, wenn es um die Breedloves geht, erste Person, wenn Claudias Sicht geschildert wird, sind unterschiedlich stark.

Claudia war mein Lieblingscharakter, ist vielleicht sogar my all-time fave, wenn es um Charaktere von Toni Morrison geht. Ich habe sie einfach geliebt. Ihre Naivität, ihre Gutherzigkeit, den Humor und die Leichtigkeit (und gleichzeitig auch Traurigkeit), die sie in die Geschichte gebracht hat. Was hätte ich dafür gegeben, den Roman komplett aus ihrer Perspektive zu lesen. Noch mehr über sie und ihre Schwester Frieda zu erfahren, über ihre komplizierte Freundschaft mit Pecola, ihre unsortierten Gefühle zu Pecolas Schwangerschaft.
Our astonishment was short-lived, for it gave way to a curious kind of defensive shame; we were embarrassed for Pecola, hurt for her, and finally we just felt sorry for her. Our sorrow drove out all thoughts of the new bicycle. And I believe our sorrow was the more intense because nobody else seemed to share it. They were disgusted, amused, shocked, outraged, or even excited by the story. … More strongly than my fondness for Pecola, I felt a need for someone to want the black baby to live—just to counteract the universal love of white baby dolls, Shirley Temples, and Maureen Peals. And Frieda must have felt the same thing.
Claudia ist der stärkere/passendere Charaktere für diese Geschichte. Pecola ist zu passiv, zu sehr "Opfer", als dass man als Leser*in nicht an Mitleid zu ihr erstickt. Morrison wollte es vermeiden, dass ihre Leser*innen zu viel Mitgefühl mit Pecola empfinden, aber es ist unmöglich bei diesem hilflosen jungen Mädchen, dass sich selbst und ihr Aussehen hasst und dann noch sexuellen Missbrauch erfährt. Wie kein Mitgefühl haben? Über Claudia als Mittlerin der Geschichte gewänne man den nötigen Abstand, um die Geschichte etwas mehr aus der Ferne zu betrachten. Und gleichzeitig ist Claudia selbst auch ein toller und faszinierender Charakter. Auch sie kämpft ihre Kämpfe.

Es ist sehr passend, dass der Roman mit ihrer Perspektive anfängt und endet: "We saw her sometimes. Frieda and I—after the baby came too soon and died. We tried to see her without looking at her, and never, never went near. Not because she was absurd, or repulsive, or because we were frightened, but because we had failed her. Our flowers never grew. … 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. … And fantasy it was, for we were not strong, only aggressive; we were not free, merely licensed; we were not compassionate, we were polite; not good, but well behaved. We courted death in order to call ourselves brave, and hid like thieves from life. … I even think now that the land of the entire country was hostile to marigolds that year. This soil is bad for certain kinds of flowers. Certain seeds it will not nurture, certain fruit it will not bear, and when the land kills of its own volition, we acquiesce and say the victim had no right to live. We are wrong, of course, but it doesn’t matter. It’s too late."

Abschließend bleibt zu sagen, dass Morrison in The Bluest Eye vieles "falsch" macht. Viel zu viel Exposition, die Themen (und teils auch wie sie zu interpretieren sind) werden einem auf dem Silbertablett serviert, viel "telling", wenig "showing", unschlüssige Charakterzeichnung bei Cholly, gänzlich sinnlose Charaktere für die Geschichte (bspw. Soaphead – einfach nur why? was sollte dann auch noch dieser ellenlange Brief?), zu viele POVs etc. etc. – Und dennoch ist es ein gelungenes Debut. The Bluest Eye ist ein Roman, der unter die Haut geht. Ich habe gelacht (cue the scene where Frieda and Claudia find out about Pecola's first menstruation: "She was ministratin'") und geweint. Morrisons Stil ist unverkennbar. Sie zieht einen direkt in ihre Geschichten rein. Sie zwingt einen hinzuschauen, nicht nur auf die schönen, sondern auch auf die hässlichen Dinge des Lebens. Und sie macht Platz. Für Schwarze Stimmen, Schwarze Perspektiven. Keine hat dem Platz im Kanon so sehr verdient, wie sie.
42 reviews
May 30, 2009
I just read this today, and the rating system really doesn't apply to my feelings, which are still fresh, on this book : "I like it" "I really liked it", etc. I have NO idea how to rate this book.

I didn't like the book. As the author herself states in the afterward, "...this is a terrible story about things one would rather not know anything about." But at the same time, the story is engrossing, I found the back stories interesting, and really fell in love with the three little girls. Though some of the varying voices that tell their stories don't flow as well in telling their story, the character development is really amazing. The point of view through innocence in the girls makes the horrors and injustices all the more...horrific and upsetting.

This book evoked strong emotions in me, which, according to the author, was the point. She did that job well. I feel a strong sense of loss, disgust, revoltion, sadness, and frustration at not knowing how to "fix" things.

So how do you rate that?

Profile Image for Thomas.
1,457 reviews8,563 followers
August 1, 2017
4.5 stars

A powerful and disturbing book about the damaging effects of eurocentric beauty standards and the tremendous negative impacts of racism. My friend and I just talked about this Twitter thread ("is he hot or is he just white with a visible jawline and/or blue eyes?") right before I read The Bluest Eye. Toni Morrison captures this dynamic of internalized racial self-loathing so well. With vivid prose, she interrogates how glorifying white skin and blue eyes harms black girls and turns them against one another. Through developing the main characters of this book, the Breedlove family, in a rich and detailed way, Morrison also investigates the repercussions of intergenerational trauma, rape and incest, and more. My heart hurt so much for these characters even as my mind admired Morrison's skill as a writer. She holds nothing back in her books, and neither should we as we fight to diversify our media and show how all bodies deserve love and respect, not just white ones, thin ones, etc. Highly recommended to Morrison fans and to those who care about societal beauty ideals, race and the family, and the social transmission of trauma and abuse.
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