I read The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, my junior year of high school. I had an older aunt that was away in college majoring in English. Because I was going to a predominantly white school, she wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing out on black literature, so she was constantly recommending authors to me.
The Bluest Eye wasn’t the first book of Toni Morrison’s that I read. I believe I picked it because it was short and thought it would be easy. Well, as the saying goes, don’t judge a book by it’s cover. This book was packed with so much symbolism it made it one of the most difficult books I’ve ever read. Toni was so clever with it too. It reads easy, unlike some of her other work, like Beloved. It’s not until you start researching it that you start to discover there is so much going on under the surface.
If you’ve never read this book, here’s a brief introduction:
The novel opens in the fall of 1941, just after the Great Depression, in Lorain, Ohio. Nine-year-old Claudia MacTeer and her 10-year-old sister, Frieda, live with their parents in an “old, cold and green” house. What they lack in money they make up for in love. The MacTeers decide to take in a boarder named Mr. Henry. At the same time, they also take in young Pecola Breedlove, whose father recently hit her mother and tried to burn down the family home. Pecola is a quiet, awkward girl who loves Shirley Temple, believing that whiteness is beautiful and that her own blackness is inherently ugly.
Pecola’s home life is difficult. Her father, Cholly, abuses alcohol and her parents fight constantly. Pecola begins to think that if she were prettier, her parents would be nicer to each other and to her. Since Pecola equates beauty with whiteness, she begins to pray for blue eyes in order to change the way she sees the world as well as the way she is seen by others.
So check it out, but be sure to have some tissues handy…