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The Bluest Eye

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  129,905 Ratings  ·  5,641 Reviews
Originally published in 1970, The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison's first novel. In an afterword written more than two decades later, the author expressed her dissatisfaction with the book's language and structure: "It required a sophistication unavailable to me." Perhaps we can chalk up this verdict to modesty, or to the Nobel laureate's impossibly high standards of quality c ...more
Paperback, 216 pages
Published September 1994 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
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 ge
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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
...more
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.

"By the time 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 t
...more
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
...more
Thu
Jun 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 t
...more
Brian
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 conseque
...more
Bookdragon Sean
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 centr
...more
Navidad Thelamour
...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 t
...more
Connie  Kuntz
Aug 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 in
...more
Fabian
Aug 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wonder who the Mexican Toni Morrison is. Her work is very hard to peg down. It remains a feat to analyze or define.

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
...more
Sabra
May 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 som
...more
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 c
...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 can’t be anyone, I’m sure, who doesn’t 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 performance—I might as well have been in the same room with her.

The bluest
...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 ov
...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
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 characte
...more
Anuradha
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 actually appreciate literature, but from my experience, it is Women of Colour whose books have made me appreciate literature more. Perhaps it is because they write with so much heart. Perhaps
...more
Rebbie
Oct 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2015
Please don’t be surprised to see that I gave this 5 stars. Toni Morrison has a Pulitzer and a Nobel, and she deserves them both.

Precious few people can write like she does. Dare I say it, but only a few times in a generation are we lucky enough to have a writer who was born to put pen to paper. I call her a writer and not a novelist or an author because that would be disrespectful to her talent.

Unfortunately, there are those who have read this book and act as if Toni Morrison is blaming the enti
...more
Nnenna
Feb 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finally (finally!) read my first Toni Morrison novel and it did not disappoint. The Bluest Eye is the story of Pecola, who wishes desperately for blue eyes, which she equates with beauty, belonging, and all that is good in the world. Pecola does not have a good childhood (her father is a drunk and her mother barely cares for her children) and sadly we witness Pecola's life devolve from bad to much worse.

It pretty much goes without saying that Morrison's writing was beautiful, but it was also m
...more
Maxwell
Feb 23, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 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
...more
Edward
The most insidious form of prejudice is the one that's internalised and self-directed. The Bluest Eye examines the ways in which latent cultural measures of beauty and self-worth can become reinforced and self-perpetuating. White people figure rarely in the narrative, and yet whiteness is pervasive as the very currency of self-worth: a means of defining value, and of establishing one's own superiority over others. The novel digs out the dirt to examine the roots of this behaviour, but provides n ...more
Emily Norwood
Mar 18, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Seriously... I have to read this book for class. I'm on page 50 and I've already had more than I can take. The symbolism is over the top and heavy-handed to the point that I can't decide whether I'm being shouted at for no reason or insulted as a dull creature incapable of understanding such things unless it is stated outright with excruciating detail. Its insistence on being so obvious with everything makes it sound pretentious, preachy, and annoying. Additionally, the overemphasis the author p ...more
Hadrian
The Bluest Eye is a short melancholy piece around a black family living in Ohio after the Great Depression. It's tragic not only because the conditions there were so bad and the emotional wounds of the family are so deep, but also because everyone seems to think this miserable state of affairs is normal, and the wounded souls produced by prejudices carry on.

The dialogue is sparse and maybe a little wooden, but the descriptions of this book are stark and magnificent. And this was Morrison's first
...more
Neal Adolph
Wow, this book is horribly difficult to really think about, isn’t it? I mean, it crushes the mind. The kind of violence perpetrated here, feeling historical and grand, terribly personal, preying on innocents, this book is truly horribly difficult to think about. It gets thicker with each passing moment of reflection. This book is a welcoming into the dark complex of humanity, standing like a building of horrors, a Pentagon, made out to be nothing less than a museum of our own terrific and sublim ...more
Chrissie
Please note: I listened to the audiobook narrated by the author, not Ruby Dee.

This is a book about a child who wants to be beautiful, and that means to have blue eyes. She is black.

If you choose to read this book you should be aware that although the writing is exceptional, it is rarely cheerful:

The first twigs are thin, green and supple. They bend in a complete circle but will not break. Their delicate showy hopefulness shooting from forsythia and lilac bushes meant only a change in whipping
...more
Zanna
Read with Feminist Book Club @FeministBC

This is my contribution to the discussion:

I think the main theme of the novel is the self-hatred produced by a racist culture. The most overt image of this is Pecola’s pathological desire for blue eyes, but it is also powerfully evident in the character of Geraldine, mother of Junior, who is one of the women who ‘come from Mobile’ and dedicate themselves to the erasure of their natural ‘funk’, and even more so in Pauline, Pecola’s mother. I found Pauline’
...more
Gorfo
Jun 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: realistic, black-gold
This book makes people feel uncomfortable. It is a racially charged book that is bursting at the seams with half a century's worth of anger and truth. It is a book that is peppered with evidence of the sexual abuse that underlies coming of age as a colored girl in the US. The Bluest Eye , bears hard facts about the condition of blacks in America that are difficult for anybody to acknowledge. In a poetic and tangled tale woven from the stars themselves, Toni Morrison tackles issues of beauty, po ...more
Afro Madonna
So my literature professor completely shocked me by buying this book for me as a gift on the last day of finals and she told me to continue staying true to myself. I don't know, but does anyone else agree that she has a beautiful soul for this ? ❤❤❤


P.S. it's by one of my most favorite authors and I just can't even ! 😭😭😭
...more
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8,207 followers
Toni Morrison (born Chloe Anthony Wofford), is 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 k
...more
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“Love is never any better than the lover. ” 334 likes
“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.” 305 likes
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