The Bluest Eye

The Bluest Eye

Book - 1993
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The Bluest Eye,published in 1970, is the first novel written by Toni Morrison, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature. It is the story of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove--a black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others--who prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different. This is the story of the nightmare at the heart of her yearning and the tragedy of its fulfillment.
Publisher: New York : Knopf, 1993, c1970
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9780679433736
0679433732
Branch Call Number: FIC Morri 05ad 01
Characteristics: 215 p

Opinion

From Library Staff

According to Banned Library this book was #34 of the top 100 banned books between 1990-99 and #15 between 2000-2009. This book has been repeatedly challenged because of sexual content, graphic descriptions and language.

Reason: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence


From the critics


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p
palola
Apr 08, 2019

I have never cried from reading a book, but when I say this book brought me to TEARS, I mean it had be BAWLING for a good hour. This story hurt. How Toni Morrison managed to narrate so beautifully & at the same time write about a child falling apart, I'll never know. Ms. Morrison hoped readers would be not just touched by the story but MOVED, and let me tell you I was shook to my core. Absolutely outstanding.

(Also I'd recommend reading the foreword. It has a lot of information about why she wrote the book, which was very helpful for explaining the story.)

r
reinenoire
Mar 27, 2019

This was my first Morrison novel. I kept thinking about the characters well after I finished the book. The story is very telling and haunting (in a way). I enjoyed it.

r
reyhamm
Dec 22, 2018

Wow! This book left me feeling like I was drowning in a pool of mixed emotions. Tragic, but beautifully written.

m
mayog
Dec 20, 2018

The Bluest Eye relates the story of the rape of Pecola Breedlove--and that isn't a spoiler as it shows up at the very beginning of the book. More to the point, in this her first novel, Toni Morrison uses the story of Pecola Breedlove to unpack the internalized self-hatred by an entire race of persons, epitomized by the fetishization of blue eyes. No social class among the African American characters escapes this internalized self-hatred; and its most direct victims are young, black girls, especially dark-skinned, poor, black girls.

At the same time, no character in Morrison's novel reads as completely unsympathetic. Readers, following along with each of the characters, completely come to understand how each ends up as she is, and how the collective leads to the utter annihilation of a young girl.

It's a painful novel to read, particularly because of the quotidienne and utterly unremarkable, constant violence toward girl-children that punctuates the entire novel. The novel must have been even more devastating in 1970, when it was first published.

r
ranvapa
Nov 20, 2018

A brutal account of an innocent child lost to the world, then more tragically, to herself.
Beautifully written, short novel.

e
Einer2
Aug 30, 2018

So beautifully written.

RogerDeBlanck Jan 31, 2018

The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison’s first novel. Although it did not achieve critical or commercial success upon its original publication in 1970, it is now regarded as a masterpiece in many literary circles. It is an important work in Morrison’s oeuvre and also a seminal novel of our times. Set in Morrison’s hometown of Lorraine, Ohio in the 1940s, the story confronts the devastating effects of racism on an eleven-year-old black girl named Pecola Breedlove. Morrison examines Pecola’s fascination with wanting blue eyes as a means to erasing her self-perceived ugliness. What constitutes beauty? How does the idea of ugliness pollute our minds? Morrison takes on society’s tendency to marginalize beauty and make everyone and everything that falls outside that sphere feel inferior. Full of poetic prose and painful emotion, The Bluest Eye is one of Morrison’s most widely-read novels.

Franln May 22, 2017

This is the first Toni Morrison book I've ever read and I am blown away. It's an incredibly sad story that will stick with me for life.

d
DanielJNickolas
Sep 30, 2016

The Bluest Eye is a secret, a myth, a gossip whispered with the hope that someone will hear it before it is too late. From its opening - the dissolving text of a Dick and Jane children’s book - to the yet unnamed narrator’s first spoken words “Quiet as it’s kept”, Morrison gives the impression of whispering to the reader a secret hidden behind the actions of everyday life; a truth about the perceptions and beliefs of what is beautiful, and what is not.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 02, 2016

Toni Morrison's debut novel is both haunting and beautiful. Right from the beginning, she tells of the tragedy that will take place and doing so certainly helps the pieces come together throughout the novel.
The story is told through various viewpoints which adds significant credibility. Had Morrison stuck with the viewpoint of Pecola, the victim, the novel would've felt like it was asking for pity. Had it feel on her attacker, it obviously would've been much darker--without heart. A townsperson would've made it too distant. And so forth. Morrison chose wisely by going into all these characters' point-of-views.
The language, as in any piece Morrison writes, is gorgeous. She can just write words on a page without a story and it will get published. Language, however, is probably the biggest problem with The Bluest Eye: it doesn't fit. Some characters in this book are clearly more eloquent, and I'll give the benefit of the doubt that they would use such language; however, there are many in this novel who are portrayed as barely being able to read and yet their narratives are laced with the author's silver-tongue. It doesn't make the novel any less beautiful; but it certainly makes it less effective. Taken in context however--her first novel, written as a 30-something black woman in 1960s America--I'm guessing there was great pressure, internally and externally, to create a work of greatly literary value.
While Morrison doesn't quite match the power in this novel as she does with later works, The Bluest Eye is nevertheless a wonderful start to what was to become an exceptional career.

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Notices

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m
mayog
Dec 20, 2018

Frightening or Intense Scenes: rape; other violent scenes including a near-death scene

m
mayog
Dec 20, 2018

Sexual Content: rape; consensual sex; prostitution

m
mayog
Dec 20, 2018

Coarse Language: use of the "n" word

m
mayog
Dec 20, 2018

Violence: rape, other forms of violence including the death of two animals.

EuSei Jun 03, 2011

Coarse Language: This title contains Coarse Language.

EuSei Jun 03, 2011

Sexual Content: This title contains Sexual Content.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
m
mayog
Dec 20, 2018

mayog thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

r
ranvapa
Nov 20, 2018

ranvapa thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

g
grace0130
Jun 29, 2012

grace0130 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

EuSei Jun 03, 2011

EuSei thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

2
21221010888029
Mar 13, 2010

21221010888029 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Quotes

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m
mayog
Dec 20, 2018

“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.”

m
mayog
Dec 20, 2018

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. 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.”

m
mayog
Dec 20, 2018

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 has 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.

Blue_Baboon_132 Aug 20, 2012

THE BLUEST EYE

tt14 Jun 18, 2012

“He stood up and in a vexed whiny voice shouted at Cholly, ‘Tell that bitch she get her money and get the fuck out of here!’”

Summary

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m
mayog
Dec 20, 2018

The novel relates the "how" if not the "why" of the rape of Pecola Breedlove and her subsequent descent into madness, characterized by her fantasy of her having blue eyes.

To do so, it traces each of the characters through their experiences of racism and the internalized self-hatred produced by racism, and shows how each of these leads to Pecola's abuse by the entire community of Lorien, Ohio and her rape by her father.

The novel, in so doing, peels back the curtain on the devastating impact of internalized racism.

Blue_Baboon_132 Aug 20, 2012

LIFE!!!

tt14 Jul 26, 2012

In the novel The Bluest Eye, the most significant example of a person having low self-esteem is Pecola. In The Bluest Eye, the reader learns that Pecola was raped and impregnated by her father in the family kitchen. Toni Morrison describes Cholly’s thoughts at the time of the rape as being excited. The narrator, Claudia, comments, “...the silence of her stunned throat was better than Pauline’s easy laughter had been” (Morrison 162). Pecola’s silence is an example of her being powerless and a contributing factor to her low self-esteem. Pecola feels that her future is hopeless and she feels betrayed by the rape at the hands of her father. This is not how a father is supposed to treat his daughter. A father should talk to his daughter, give her advice, and make her feel that she is worth something. Pecola feels alone and powerless and that she can not trust anyone.

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