am 28. Juli 2000
Toni Morrison is one of the best fiction writers of this era, and she has proved it again and again. The Bluest Eye, Morrison's first novel, is a rich and heart-wrenching story with language so exquisite and beautiful that moved me in many ways.
The story is about Pecola, a girl whose only dream is to have blue eyes. Her perception of beauty is somewhat deluded, but that's the sad reality African Americans have endured for decades. The novel emphasizes self-hatred, but the focus in the story is not how one perceives one's beauty, but rather how others perceive it. The secondary characters are essentially important in the novel. Pecola, the focal character, is not quite as developed as the others. I think Morrison wanted the reader to comprehend other people's perception of Pecola's beauty -- or lack thereof. It is sort of an outsider looking in type of thing. Pecola's story is both tragic and thought provoking. One might wonder: how do I perceive beauty? Is beauty really in the eyes of the beholder?
This is -- without a stretch of doubt -- a thinker's novel. Oprah has picked an excellent book. Toni Morrison is a gifted storyteller. I strongly urge to read this book!
am 22. Juni 2016
“The bluest eye” was the first book written by Toni Morrison I read. I had to read it for an exam and my teacher’s description sounded quite good. However, I am a little bit disappointed now after reading it.
The realisation of the main themes such as racism, gender issues, concepts of beauty and conventions was interesting to read about, though too aggressive for me because I prefer the more ‘subtle’ way. In nearly every sentence (little exaggeration but that’s how it felt) the reader could find a clue that this book deals with the aforementioned topics (f.e., drinking ‘white milk’ as a black girl, loads of swearing and so forth) which, at least in my mind, was too much. The story is a real mess and it was nearly impossible for me to immerse in it properly. The consequences were that it wasn’t possible to actually ‘feel’ Pecola’s pain and the burden black people have to carry and challenges they have to face because of their skin colour.
All in all, I wouldn’t recommend reading that book because of its extraordinary style and unique views. However, it might be interesting for style analysis in writing because it contains a great variety of interesting features.
am 28. Juni 2000
On the positive side: "The Bluest Eye" has some breezy, sharp dialogue; some of the descriptions are well done; and, structurally, it is mildly interesting, although largely whimsical (e.g., the changes in paragraph justification). On the negative side: the symbolism is awful; there are many bland and/or trite descriptions (e.g., "leaden skies"); it is bloated with overworked, competing, confusing, and clumsy modifiers (i.e., adjectives and adverbs); the characterization is thin, and it is executed in a series of disjoint and amateurish character sketches; the narrative tells too much, while showing and evoking too little; and, the ending is just plain silly.
In "The Bluest Eye", Morrison's characters are superficial and pigeonholed. It seems obvious that Morrison approached the story with ideas, rather than images (just read the afterword), and then forced her characters to act out these simplistic ideas. Here Morrison is too preoccupied with social, psychological, and moral messages; and, her characters and situations are contrived to provide didactic illustrations of overdrawn generalizations. Because of this, the reader's attention is pulled away from the characters as unique and complex creations, and focused on the messages, or "lessons", the characters are intended to help convey. Just read other people's reviews and this is obvious; many reviewers identify with Pecola only as a young black woman in the abstract, and urge others to read this book because of the "issues" it raises. This is evidence of both inartistic writing and unimaginative reading.
Morrison's symbolism is abstract and artificial. Particularly bad is her use of blue eyes to symbolize `a cultural conception of beauty' or `stereotypical beauty'. An artistic, or poetic, use of symbolism should be image-oriented, evocative, and the symbol should embody the essence of what is being symbolized. Blue eyes are a poor symbol for `cultural ideals of beauty' because blue eyes do not provide a compelling and instinctual image of such a thing; and, because blue eyes purport to symbolize an abstract and intellectual concept, as opposed to a concrete image or quality. That is why this overreaching symbolism must be spelled out explicitly in the book. When you picture blue eyes do they immediately and instinctively evoke a sense of `cultural ideals of beauty'? Of course not. These connections must be manufactured. As bad as the symbolism of blue eyes is, Pecola's desire for them reduces this symbolism to a ridiculous allegory.
Another complaint I have is that Morrison never withholds an image. Everything is graphically described and, therefore, the images become confused, overwrought, and numbing. Sometimes the best way to get across the sense of an image is to hold it back and work around it with more powerful, definite, and effective images. The incestuous child rape is a good example of where it would have been better to cleverly work with the reader's imagination but shield the actual act from view, letting the reader experience the situation rather than react to it. In being so explicit, Morrison conveys the facts, but not a heightened and controlled sense of the events. The images lose their power to evoke because they are so uniformly morbid, overdone, unfamiliar, and evidentiary. It is sometimes said that such unswervingly bleak portrayals are "true to life" and "real"---which invariably leads to their discussion in real-world terms. But these situations are not real---they are unbalanced, unimaginative, concocted, and phony.
To end on a positive note, here is my favorite passage from the book: "When you ask them where they are from, they tilt their heads and say `Mobile' and you think you've been kissed. They say `Aiken' and you see a white butterfly glance off a fence with a torn wing. They say `Nagadoches' and you want to say `Yes, I will'." This is pretty good stuff.
am 29. Mai 2000
The following is an excerpt from a paper I once wrote on this same book. It shows how Toni Morisson creates a perfect example of existing - then and now - social hierarchy with her book and also shows how women were victimized by society:
"Pecola...has been deemed ugly by society. Being ugly, as well as black during the early 1940's, was a sure way to lose any chance of power in the social hierarchy. Pecola, having constantly been bombarded with images of perfection in movies and in baby dolls, has been constructed to believe that the way to be loved is to have blue eyes; after all, all the prettiest girls have blue eyes. So she prays for God to give her blue eyes. This type of wish is unattainable, but in Pecola's mind, she sees it as a solution to her problems. Not only will it result in her finally becoming accepted by a society which shuns her, but it will stop the constant fighting between her parents since "'[They] musn't do bad things in front of those pretty eyes.'" In the end of the work, she believes that her prayer has paid off, since she believes she has blue eyes. In reality, her traumatic existence has caused her to hallucinate a self which constantly tells her how pretty her eyes are, and she begins to see blue eyes when she looks in the mirror. She thinks it his her pretty blue eyes which cause people to stare as she walks past; it does not occur to her that they stare because she is pregnant with her father's child. Those around her, even her friends begin to avoid her, and she eventually loses all contact with the world around her. Morisson shows that Pecola is a victim of the social hierarchy. Living in a world which seemingly has no place for those who do not meet the beauty standard, she is without a purpose, and is therefore devastated. Her constant struggle to survive in the hierarchy results in her eventual demise. The stereotypes of American pop culture of the period (early 1940's before America's involvement in the war), including Shirley Temple and the like, have constructed the vast majority of people, including Pecola herself, to accept only the girls with blonde hair and blue eyes as truly beautiful. The only character who fights this stereotype is the young Claudia, and even she admits to eventually learning to love the stereotype that Shirley Temple creates. Ironically, people of this time are against Hitler's crusade to create the Aryan master race, yet they are contributing to this ideal themselves by submitting to the social hierarchy the culture around them has created. The work also shows how women were treated by society as a whole. It shows us a world where women are expected to be subordinate to their husbands, are responsible for cooking, cleaning, and taking care of children, and are expected to have little social identity outside of their houses. Another interesting aspect of ideas on women of the time is that most of the women possessed little sexual identity, and shared the marital bed simply to tend to their husbands needs. In fact, the female identity as a whole is suppressed, and the only females that seem to have any true sense of identity in this work are the prostitutes whom Pecola befriends.
Well, I hope someone found this interesting and/or helpful. This book is an awesome character study, and Morrison does a fantastic job of describing just how horrid a life these characteres lead. I personally think that the book is a must read for anyone interested in women's or african-american studies and should definitely be read. While I am glad that the book, as being part of Oprah's bok club, will reah more readers, it disappoints me to think that the only reason people are reading it is because Oprah tells them to. sad Really.
am 29. April 2000
In the first pages of her first novel, Morrison sets out the themes and characters she will pursue in each of her novels: mother, father, child, home ,village, love, beauty, friendship, nature, property, earth, scapegoat, pariah, history, nature, belief, magic, the act of naming. Her themes are her themes: flight, the journey, family, friendship, violence, paradoxes of good and evil, world of black society: its code, its superstitions. The ancestor. The tar-quality of women. Her main characters always have childhoods. She uses everything available to her: awesome intellect, rich imagination, liberal education, the way she was reared. She uses fable, song, myth. Masks and names. Clichés. She gives voice to everything that might have voice. Responsibilities and choices confront the characters and us. Presences and absences. Her sentences, her stories are comprised of what is said and what is not said. Not victim literature, although there are victims; she does not come to the page to grind axes. Rather, she aims at things not being, "Quiet as it's kept... ." Forced to the extremes of life, her characters survive or don't survive and their stories show how they do or don't survive and do or don't find the resources to live "intensely and well." She creates a world that includes rather than excludes, one where much is tolerated and "The End" is just a stopping point and does not close off possibility. In a sense, The Bluest Eye introduces a musical line, the melody, of a jazz composition, expressive, flexible, various, full of call and response like gospel or worksong, bluesy, vocal, replete with spaces to be filled by the instrument that is the reader. The sense of always beginning. Reading Morrison's fiction is a participatory event. From the first word of this first novel -- "Here is the house" -- she asks us to put our sure senses of self, our belief in what we surely know, at risk in order the enter the worlds she creates and be present in the action.
am 13. September 1999
Toni Morrisons Roman erzählt die Geschichte des jungen schwarzen Mädchens Pecola, das sich blaue Augen wünscht, um dem amerikanischen Schönheitsideal zu entsprechen und von allen gemocht zu werden. Sie will schöner und "weißer" aussehen und sich von ihrer eigenen Schwäche befreien, weil die "Black Community", in der Pecola lebt, sie als Sündenbock für alles sieht, was dort falsch läuft. Statt sich gegen äußere Wertsysteme aufzulehnen, lassen die Mitglieder der Gemeinde ihre Aggressionen an dem "schwächsten" Mitglied aus. Pecolas Geschichte spiegelt die Internalisierung äußerer Werte wider und warnt vor den Konsequenzen: Selbsthaß und Geschlechterhaß. Beide werden in dem Roman thematisiert. Generell spielt die Mutter-Tochter-Beziehung in Toni Morissons Werken eine bedeutende Rolle. Auch hier begegnen wir verschiedenen Mutter-Tochter-Verhältnissen und Mutterrollen, die sich unterschiedlich auf die Kinder auswirken. Erzählt wird die Geschichte aus der Perspektive Pecolas Freundin Claudia mit einigen Einschüben eines allwissenden Erzählers, der uns über die Vorgeschichte der Familienverhältnisse aufklärt. So wird Stück für Stück zusammengewebt und wir werden langsam an Pecola und ihre schwierigen Lebensumstände herangeführt. An Toni Morrison ist so einzigartig, daß sie zwar für schwarze Frauen schreibt und ihnen bei der Selbstfindung helfen will, aber gleichzeitig läßt sie sich in keine Schublade einordnen: weder Feminismus noch Afrozentrismus - es ist eher ein Humanismus im allgemeinen, den sie vertritt. (Dies ist eine Amazon.de an der Uni-Studentenrezension.)
am 9. Mai 2000
The Bluest Eye is a book that deals with many sensitive issues, including, race, sexuality, and incest. It is about a young black girl who develops the idea that beauty is to be blonde with blue eyes. The development of her way of thinking is explained through the background of her parents and her own upbringing. This can be confusing to the reader because the plot will start and stop in a completely different place, and it can take awhile for the reader to get on track with what the author is thinking about. This is a different and interesting way of presenting the plot; and although it can be confusing, it gives the reader an inside look at why the girl's life is how it is. It shows how deeply experiences of an adult's childhood can affect them when they are grown and their children. This book gives a sometimes disturbing look at reality, and things that happen that we would never want to beleive. Everyone can relate to the girl's wish to have a different appearance and the thought that everything would be so much easier if you could just change one thing about yourself. This shows the danger of not teaching our children that they are all beautiful in their own way and how important it is for them to love themselves for who they are. The reader gets a first hand look at the effects that racism and racial superiority can have on a person. A major lesson can be learned from this book, and the reader might find that they have more of an understanding of racial beleifs. Despite the gruesomeness of reality, The Bluest Eye is good, but can also leave the reader quite disgusted.
am 8. Juni 2000
Toni Morrison has the uncanny knack for taking simple stories and making them wonderously, 'humanly' complex. What starts off as a clever incisive comment on how life is interpreted by different people quickly becomes a conversation between the characters and the reader. What we learn as the reader almost becomes a secret as the amazingly natural speech patterns leave the mouth of Pecola. She is an extraordinarily human character. A trait quite often missing from characters in literature today. From the nightmares of the life that exists around her - the cat swinging passage made me cringe - to the little bits of hope that exist in her thoughts we are taken on a journey as she becomes involved with Pauline, Cholly, Sam, Frieda, Claudia, Mrs. Breedlove and Junior. A journey far from many of our lives but a journey that shows that when it comes down to it we all strive for the same thing. We all want to be the very best we can. We want to try and show courage. We want to try and be happy. It is a true Morrison journey through and through. Human as human can be.
As an aside however, what is Oprah doing? Isn't the purpose of a book club to broaden reading habits and patterns? Toni Morrison is a great author! But should another (the third) of her books be chosen? I don't know and while I loved The Bluest Eye I just get a bit disappointed when Oprah takes an opportunity to expose readers all around the world to new talent (note Sheri Reynolds and A. Manette Ansay) and lets it pass her by by selecting books that I would have thought many of her viewers would have already read.
am 11. Juni 2000
This book is often advertised/promoted/raved as the story of a little black girl named Pecola who wants blue eyes and her struggle with identity. But it's not about her at all really. It's about people around her, mostly her parents. Pecola is barely even in the book. A little in the beginning, very little in the middle and a little at the end. Her wish for "The Bluest Eye" isn't even an issue with this book really. Pecola's not really an issue with this book. No more than her parents Cholly and Pauline Breedlove. I feel that it should have been MORE about Pecola as advertised. One problem is that this book is too short. Only 215 or so pages and it mostly focus on Pecola' s family and friends and we're left wondering just WHO Pecola is. WHY she wants blue eyes, WHAT events that happened to HER that makes her feel this way (aside the fact that white and half white girls seemed to get treated better, like the half white Maureen Peal).
This book doesn't go into the depths of Pecola's mind & heart and she becomes just another character in this book and not even one of the main ones! I think the author, Toni Morrison, should have written ANOTHER 215 pages or atleast 115 pages mostly on Pecola Breedlove, so we could have gotten to know her better!
It's a decent book as far as a story goes about blacks struggling in 1940s Ohio. But if you've heard Oprah Winfrey's rave reviews and other rave reviews talking about the story of Pecola and her struggles, you will be disappointed because that's not what this book is about.
am 28. April 2000
Like many of you, I to read Toni Morrison's Song of Solomn first. After reading this one I wanted to find out more about her. So my boss gave me The Bluest Eye. I'm not an avid reader, but I read it in a couple of days.
It's a very sad and hauting story of the destruction of a little black girls spirit and soul. She longed to have blue eyes or anything that would bring about love and attention that she so desperately wanted. Yet society and even her mother could not love her unless she had these "Blue Eyes".
The theme of this book touches on so many social issues. From self loathing and hatred of being born black in a white world to the effects of child abuse from both parents. Many people may not aggree with me that the mother also abused her child, but she did. She allowed herself to become so wrapped up with taking care of a little blue eyed child that she has nothing left for her own family when she comes home. Her words are always harsh and scolding to Pecola. Never soothing and loving. She has left her poor Pecola to fend against the world for herself. And when Pecola needs her mother's help the most it's not there.
I think every mother should read this book. Step away from the characters and see the destruction of a child from lack of love and acceptance. You will remember Pecola's journey forever!