The Bluest Eye (Vintage International) Paperback – May 8, 2007
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“So precise, so faithful to speech and so charged with pain and wonder that the novel becomes poetry.” —The New York Times
“A profoundly successful work of fiction. . . . Taut and understated, harsh in its detachment, sympathetic in its truth . . . it is an experience.” —The Detroit Free Press
“This story commands attention, for it contains one black girl’s universe.” —Newsweek
About the Author
Toni Morrison is the author of eleven novels, from The Bluest Eye (1970) to God Help the Child (2015). She received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and in 1993 she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. She died in 2019.
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A tall skinny black guy was heading toward the same Starbucks door on foot, like myself. He looked at me. He had with him his prize possession. A half-dressed, skinny asian female with him. She was cylindrically built, flat chested, no butt - but half naked. A far cry from the physique of a professional athlete. But they didn't see that. All they both saw was a black chick - probably overweight- in baggy sweats. *ugh*.
Upon seeing me, his lips pressed into a thin line, his eyes went flat with absolute hatred. I've seen that look my whole life from young black men. Then suddenly, he grinned. He knew we were going into the same Starbucks, so he grabbed his lady-friend's hand and started walking quickly. So quickly that he opened the door for her, then swiftly turned around, smiled in my face - and SLAMMED THE DOOR before i could grab the handle.
Everyone in Starbucks saw this action. I held my head up, walked into that Starbucks and stood in line right beside that couple. He gave me a belligerent stare wondering if i was going to do something to his "property". Though i was furious? I did not show it. Though i was ashamed. I did not show it. I ordered my tea when it was time, sat down and drank it. People were still staring even after that couple left. No one knew what to say. Regardless i did not sink that child's level. I held my head high, and sipped my tea.
This bought back so many humiliations in the past of how black people treat each other. I saw it within my family, school, my jobs, everywhere.
And believe it or not, i once wished for blue or green eyes as well. Anything but my liquid deep brown, big, round eyes. Having blue eyes would have stunned so many that i thought were my enemies into silence. I would have been treated better by not only my own counter-parts - but by white people as well.
Actually, that turned out not to be the case. Blue eyes don't mean anything if you don't love yourself. Just like that black guy who had attained what he considers a "prize" asian female. If you hate everything about yourself, nothing is going to change that. He was projecting everything he hated about himself - onto me. If it wasn't me? It would have been someone else of his culture.
Toni Morrison shows us, in this novel what the consequences are, if we seek "physical attributes/objects" to overpower the mental insufficiencies. I, and so many others could have gone the route of Pecola. In Toni Morrison's novel. A very valuable lesson is taught. Regardless of how blue your eyes are, if you're insecure? They will never be blue enough.
HOWEVER, if you haven't experienced abuse, this is a really important book. It gives you an important and vastly underrepresented perspective on the ways systems built on racism and neglect fail children of color and allow for horrific things to happen to them, and the narration of the book is actually beautiful and very compelling. It is hard to read, it is difficult subject material, but push through it. It's a good and worthwhile book.
Top international reviews
Toni Morrison does not flinch from the barest of truths about racism - both in terms of the way beauty has been historically portrayed in a fair-skinned, blue eyed, blonde idealistic way, and in terms of the historical and present day racism facing African-American children in America. As I read this book, I happened to see an ad for new dolls with natural black hair, and I was so glad.
Morrison tells the story of poor Pecola, a set upon, tragic little girl with a damaged mother and a vicious, abused father, Polly and Cholly in a series of stories that intertwine. Pecola comes to live with another family with two fiestier, funnier little girls. This somehow makes her even more tragic. Morrison shows how chance encounters affect the characters view of themselves growing up, and how this in turn hurts their children. She uses language that no one else dares use, and is critical of the way that some African-Americans have willingly enabled a racist culture that holds their own children back while prioritising others.
Sexual abuse is another central theme. I can't help but think that this is in part autobiographical. I loved it, but hated it too. It made me so angry and so sad, but I am glad I gave it my time. I don't think I will ever be able to forget this book.
At first, I wasn't sure about the writing. For example, Toni heads several chapters with paragraphs that has no spaces and seems to fall short of a meaning however, this is all very much part of the overall theme of the lives of a poor black family in the 1940's with the emphasis on the protagonist Pecola who prays for Blue eyes so she can be like her white schoolmates.
Themes such as incest, rape and feeling like an outcast are well-addressed. I lingered in the 'Afterword' chapter as Toni expressed and summarized the writing of The Bluest Eye in such a way that I will be reading this novel again with these moments in mind.
Have you ever needed up with a book outside your genres because everyone tells you its amazing...? But then found it doesn’t do it for you?
That is me and this book
This is a book that is definitely worth reading .
It is a book that requires digesting.
Stylistic and eloquent, Toni Morrison manages to articulate the intangible, capturing the individual experience in perfect synchrony with the human experience without devaluing the unique perspective of each character and the deep rooted spiritual connection shared with a vast demographic of readers each with their own identity. This book reviews age, innocence, self definition, gender, culture, tradition and society in a unique and thus far unrivalled way. I cannot recommend this book enough.
I picked it up thinking it was a walk in the park, a book that would take me a number of hours to read... I was wrong. This sorrowfully brilliant book changed me. I have never been a Toni Morrison fan...but this book...this book is incredible.
P.S. I have purchased it 3 times... Each time I lend it out...it never comes back as it is sent on...!