The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison

December 24, 2009 § 6 Comments

045

Adults, older girls, shops, magazines, newpapers, window signs – all the world had agreed that a blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl child treasured.

The Bluest Eye is a story about three girls: Pecola, Frieda and Claudia. Or maybe it’s a story about just one girl: Pecola. It’s a story about how one girl’s life is completely trashed and ruined. About how her self-worth is dictated by people who have nothing to do with her. About how her sense of what beauty truly means is reduced to wanting blue eyes.

Then again, Pecola’s story is not hers alone. Her story is shared by many.

Claudia narrates the story as best she can, not of why Pecola ended the way she did, but of how it happened. From where did her suffering originate? How did her parents, the people most meant to protect her, end up being the ones to harm her the most?

*

This book had my heart clutching, and my hands rolled into tight balls. There was a lot of emotion swirling around, painful emotions that wouldn’t go away even after I closed the book. There was anger and confusion folded in together. There were people I wanted to hate, but just couldn’t bring myself to hate them, and I don’t understand why.

The Bluest Eye touched on the vulnerability of womenfolk, but also the innate strength and gentility they possess.

The hands that felled trees also cut umbilical cords; the hands that wrung the nexks of chickens and butchered hogs also nudged African violets into bloom; the arms that loaded sheaves, bales, and sacks rocked babies into sleep.

The Bluest Eye showed me how prejudice can exist even amongst those we assume educated.

The pains wasn’t as bad as I let on, but I had to let them people know having a baby was more than a bowel movement. I hurt just like them white women. Just ’cause I wasn’t hopping and hollering before didn’t mean I wasn’t feeling pain.

The Bluest Eye painted me a stereotype, and I felt how it could easily alienate people.

God was a nice, old white man, with long white hair, flowing white beard, and little blue eyes that looked sad when people died and mean when they were bad.

Most of all, I think The Bluest Eye asked questions. It prompted me to ask questions. Why do we have a preconception of what beauty means? Why do we feel that we need power to survive? How do we lose our innocence as children? Why do we draw thick lines between us, always looking for differences, but never our similarities? Why the need to claim one as the superior?

*

I found it very emotionally gripping. My first Toni Morrison book, not going to be my last.

Rating: 4.5

Challenges: Banned Book Challenge, Women Unbound Challenge

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§ 6 Responses to The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison

  • Oh! I’m so glad to read a positive review of a Toni Morrison. I just finished A Mercy (review pending), and it didn’t captivate me as much as I had hoped.

    This book sounds really good, and I’m going to seek it out soon. Thanks for the great review.

  • claire says:

    Really nice to hear you liked it! I am completely in love with Toni Morrison. Her best ones are mind blowingly amazing (Song of Solomon in particular).

  • Sakura says:

    I’ve never read any Toni Morrisson either, but this looks very intense and thought provoking. I think every woman goes through identity issues, within and without, and your review nicely portrays the deep emotions that this book has produced. Great review!

  • su says:

    @ anothercookie: I’ve heard A Mercy is a good book, so I’ll be looking forward to reading your review. I was thinking of reading Beloved as my next Toni Morrison book, whenever I can get my hands on it.

    @ Claire: After reading this book, I’ve got a pretty good feeling for Toni Morrison too. =)

    @ Sakura: The emotions are quite intense, which I enjoy actually. If you ever do get to Toni Morrison some day, would love to know what you think.

  • susan says:

    This book shook me when I was a young woman. This book is important for so many lessons not the least among them what it means to a black girl living in a culture where whiteness is not only synonymous with power and superiority, but it is the benchmark of beauty. Imagine growing up in a world with a standard you can never achieve.

    Pecola’s obsession with this kind of beauty in a significant way contributed to her mental breakdown.

    And let’s not forget what Morrison is saying about domestic violence and incest. We don’t say these words aloud enough.

  • su says:

    @ Susan: Thanks for your thoughts, and your commitment with Color Online. This book was definitely very thought-provoking.

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