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The Bluest Eye

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  175,550 ratings  ·  9,339 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 216 pages
Published September 6th 2005 by Plume (first published June 1st 1970)
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Patricia Moberg
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Vickie During that time period in the US, public schools used Dick and Jane readers to teach all 1st and 2nd graders. The books showed nothing other than the…moreDuring that time period in the US, public schools used Dick and Jane readers to teach all 1st and 2nd graders. The books showed nothing other than the "typical" American family: financially secure, white (with blue eyes, no doubt), mother, father, sister, brother, dog, cat, all living in a lovely house they surely own. They have toys and friends who play nicely with them. They are a happy family! No cares, no troubles. All is well in the world. When TV came on the scene, families were all depicted in the same way - Father Knows Best, Ozzie and Harriet, Leave It to Beaver, The Donna Reed Show, etc., the only slight variations being the number and genders of children and inclusion or not of pets.

Yet in 1940, 12% of the US population was not white and the divorce rate was 22%. Nonetheless, in the ubiquitous Dick and Jane series there was never a nod, much less full inclusion, in a single paragraph about or illustration of any kind of family but the one described above. Dolls were all white, too.

So, to answer your question, I believe Morrison included the first perfectly written, sample of a Dick and Jane reader to show what the supposed typical American family looked like and what was presented day after day to millions and millions of students, many of whom could not relate at all. In fact, I guarantee you, the vast majority of all those kids were gettin whooped at home. Immediately following the first, perfect Dick and Jane sample, the same words are strung together in a smaller font without punctuation. That, in turn, is followed by the same words in a tiny font, again without punctuation, but also without spaces between words. The rest of the examples in the story are much like the third one, with one addition: words are simply cut off when the line ends, leaving them dangling. I believe the third example and all the subsequent ones represent the differences between the supposed real world and the world of the characters living in Loraine. Life there is not the American norm. Instead, it's chaotic, jumbled, hard to understand, confusing, difficult, unexpected, unreliable, disappointing. And yet, some of the basic elements are the same: there are mothers and fathers and children and a dog. They just don't live together, or if they do, they are a dysfunctional unit that eventually falls apart. There are houses, too, but unlike the lovely one Dick and Jane live in, the people of Loraine are lucky if they have a small, run-down house to rent from a white person.

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Samadrita
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
...more
Summer
Feb 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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Michael Finocchiaro
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 its kept, there were no marigolds in the fall of 1941. We thought, at the time, that it
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brian
Jan 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Rowena
May 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: african-american
"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
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Thu
Jun 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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
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Kenny
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-authors
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.
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Felice Laverne
...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
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Ahmad Sharabiani
365. 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
...more
Read By RodKelly
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, ...more
Sean Barrs
Ive 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. Ive 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. Shakespeares Titus Andronicus centres
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Michael
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 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 ...more
Brian
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Brian by: Bill Holtzclaw
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
...more
Adam Dalva
Oct 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Fabian
Aug 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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,
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Susanne  Strong
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
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Whitney Atkinson
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
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Maxwell
Feb 23, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-authors
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
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Paul Bryant
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
When I read a history of American literature recently I made a note of the great authors I still hadnt 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! Whats going on here? Is this a case of #mybookshelvestoowhite? Even the solitary James Baldwin novel I read was Giovannis Room- it happens to be all about European white people.

Well, I think what happened is that I think I thought I
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Jean-Luke
May 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Sabra
May 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-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
...more
Helene Jeppesen
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
...more
Connie  Kuntz
Aug 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Connie by: Sylvia Hoke
Pecola. That's her name.

Her name bothered me the first time I read it. Pecola. How do you even pronounce it. It's...ugly. Slowly, but surely, I understood that was the point. Or at least a point among many wicked-but-important points in The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.

Pecola herself would never be pretty, would never be understood. No one would ever be able to shorten or lengthen her name into a cute nick. Her hair, her eyes, her countenance, her life, would never be considered more than an
...more
Thomas
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
...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Dec 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

Toni Morrison's debut novel is for me a fitting illustration of the truth behind the Hemingway quote above. A painful, uncomfortable, provocative, depressing story that is nevertheless more honest and real than most of the books I've read this year. In a foreword written two decades after first publication, the author expresses some misgivings about the structure of the novel and about how Pecola, the main character,
...more
Aubrey
4.5/5

I had my share of body hatred while growing up, but it would be foolish to believe that a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, skinny white girl has the same problems as those who diverge in any of the four descriptives. After all, we are talking a physicality that differs in very few respects from the type idealized by the Nationalist Socialist German Workers' Party, and in the land of the whites and the home of the bleach, that phenotype means power. Just last week, one of my professors commented on
...more
Cheryl
There cant be anyone, Im sure, who doesnt know what it feels like to be disliked, even rejected. Momentarily or for sustained periods of time, Toni Morrison stated in her author note, as she explained the context of this novel. Imagine a Nobel Laureate reading her work, and then explaining her art. I listened to this via Audible and I was spellbound. Inflections with each character switch and mood, exquisite dialogue performanceI might as well have been in the same room with her.

The bluest eye.
...more
Christmas Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
I've had a look, both on Goodreads & the internet, & I can't find the cover of my ebook edition. I just know it was published post 1993, because it contains the afterward written by Morrison then, in which she proves to be one of her most severe critics. Morrison thought that at the times she lacked the narrative skill to tell the story the way she wanted. I will respectfully disagree, as while Percola's story is terrible in the sense of the almost unrelenting pain & bleakness, it is ...more
Reggie
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-favorites
The greatest writer I've ever read, an icon, the G.O.A.T., started her literary career in a fashion that is more brilliant than I even imagined.

This is a novel that speaks volumes in an era where certain people will still try & blame the young girls involved instead of an R&B singer who will remain unnamed.

Further thoughts to come...
Anuradha
UPDATE - 11/08/2019: In the recent aftermath of Morrison's death, one of my biggest regrets is that I haven't read enough by her. Something I hope to rectify very soon.

--

ORIGINAL REVIEW -
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.

I had an English teacher who used to tell us to read Russian authors if we wanted to
...more
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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
...more

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