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Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye.

In her novel, The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison explores the burdens society places on its weakest members and the adverse effects they have on the individual's mental stability and self worth. Society has expectations of beauty and worth that teach...

In The Bluest Eye, Morrison took a different approach to the traditional white-versus-black racism.

The Bluest Eye
Submitted by Robert Waxler ()

Title and Author: by Toni Morrison
Genre: Novel
Class type: Men
Themes: Male violence, male identity, mercy and justice, stereotyping, race and class.

I have not used this novel often in my CLTL discussions, although I have used it with great success on occasion. The CLTL women's groups discuss it regularly, and it does appear at first to be a novel focused on issues about young African American girls, growing up in rural America. That's true of course, just as it's true that the rich texture of the novel itself, its poetic style, seems at first to work against the stereotypical male reader's hunt for fast-moving adventure.

Once you move into the center of the novel though - and it is a short novel - the focus seems to switch to the Breedlove parents, Pauline and Cholly, and in our CLTL discussions, I put much of the emphasis on the journey that Cholly makes in the novel, from the day he is born (thrown in a garbage heap by his mother, abandoned by his father) to the brutal and sad moment in his kitchen many years later when he rapes his daughter Pecola.

There is no excuse for Cholly's actions. We cannot forgive him for his violence and brutality. In no way can we justify what he does.

Yet Morrison makes us understand his story, experience it from the inside out. We cannot easily judge Cholly Breedlove if we read this story carefully. He is a monster, no doubt, but we empathize with him. He is not a stereotype, but a man. And if we read with care, we open our hearts to the possibility that this could be us - we feel compassion for Cholly.

It is not simply that Cholly is a black man in a white world, that he has no possessions in a world that celebrates material wealth, that he is powerless, and so helpless, in a world that privileges power and admires strength. Cholly Breedlove believes that he is ugly because everywhere he turns the mainstream belief system is replicated and reinforced. Cholly has internalized the hierarchical value system that puts him at the bottom rung of that proverbial ladder of American success. And for Morrison, it is the American Dream, as much as Cholly Breedlove, that needs to be examined.

To follow the story of Cholly Breedlove through the novel is, in a sense, to glimpse the struggle for male identity in the unforgiving landscape of an America that many of the CLTL participants know all too well. The details of Cholly's story may be different than the story of others around the CLTL table, but as we look at the details, his story resonates in different ways for all of us.

Judges reading this story have often said that the story forces them to see offenders appearing before their bench from a new perspective. Each offender has an interior self, a complex story of his own. It makes judgment more difficult, but more humane. It makes us all consider the difficult relationship between compassion and judgment, mercy and justice.

When Aunt Jimmy, the woman who has brought up Cholly after finding him in the garbage, dies, Cholly decides to look for this father. It is a difficult journey for the young teenager, seeking a father he has never seen, an identity that he doesn't know. When he finally finds his father throwing dice in an alley, Cholly confronts him only to be rejected once again.

The father does not recognize him, and Cholly cannot name himself, cannot explain to his father his relationship to family or to the world at large. Cholly is, in essence, without identity, without roots. Thrown into a junk heap by his mother, rejected for a crap game by his father, he is now free to roam the American landscape, free because he has nothing left to lose. He is a man without context or meaning, a dangerous man.

Cholly's daughter, Pecola, is the young girl who seeks the bluest eye, and Pecola, together with her friends Claudia (the narrator) and Frieda, is in many ways at the center of this troubling story. But Cholly's journey raises crucial questions about male identity, male violence, and family relationships, and once we reach that moment near the middle of the novel when Cholly is wandering in the wilderness after this shameful encounter with his father, a moment shortly before he meets Pauline, I can raise a series of questions around our CLTL table that keeps us talking for a long time:


1. Can Cholly ever recover his manhood now?
2. Can Cholly ever love another family member, since he never seems to experience love from his own family?
3. Does Cholly care about Pauline, his wife?
4. Does he care about Pecola?

The CLTL program allows us to inquire about the difficult relationship between judgment and compassion, a relationship that helps define genuine justice in a democratic society. I think this novel too moves us in that direction.

The Bluest EyeThis is not a book report, I know.

In The Bluest Eye, Morrison took a different approach to the traditional white-versus-black racism.

In Morrison’s first novel, The Bluest Eye, instead of establishing a home where race does not matter—a home which she dreams of in her essay—she creates just the opposite (3).

Toni Morrison's Bluest Eye is a tragic narrative of how one black community loathes itself simply for not being white. Yet, even more tragic is the fact that an innocent little girl, Pecola, also comes to hate herself for not being white. She...

Racism in in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye Essay

Her struggle to incorporate race without being racist starts with her novel The Bluest Eye.

In Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye, Morrison examines what the degradation of people, by society, can result in. She sets her story in Lorain, Ohio in the 1940’s, which is a society with white ideals and standards of beauty. Morrison...

In The Bluest Eye, Morrison distinguishes these divisions and their tensions through characters like Geraldine, Junior, and Maureen Peal, who represent the privileged division of black culture.

In “The Bluest Eye”, Pecola fantasizes about having blue eyes so that everyone can love her.
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Bluest Eye Essays - Racism in in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye

Judgments, fear, questions, and hate are all part of human nature and in Toni Morrison’s first novel The Bluest Eye, such knowledge is printed in plain black and white.

Racism in the Bluest Eye Essay - 751 Words | Cram

Undoubtedly, both authors explore the effects of racial stereotypes on blacks in a successful way.
here are my classmates’ responses that id like you to respond to:
Response 1: I will be comparing The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison to Fitzgerald’s various short stories we have read throughout this class.

Racism in the Bluest Eye Essay - 752 Words - StudyMode

Morrison explains that when writing The Bluest Eye she “was interested in racism as a cause, consequence, and manifestation of individual and social psychosis” (“Home” 9).

Racism in Tony Morrison's The Bluest Eye essays

Are both authors similarly skeptical of patriarchal authority?
A comparison between the style/structure of different works (e.g., How does Fitzgerald’s use of multiple perspectives compare with what how Morrison tells the story of Pecola?)
A look at a text in terms of how it draws from or compares to earlier aesthetic movements (e.g., does The Bluest Eye seem to refute or endorse naturalism’s instance on environmental determinism?
Of course, these are just examples and I encourage you to come up with comparative approaches that you find compelling.
Here is my response:“The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison focuses on the difficult life of Pecola.

SparkNotes: The Bluest Eye: Study Questions & Essay …

In an attempt to break free from the racially influenced language that is so inevitable, Morrison uses characters (in places of words) in The Bluest Eye to enact this struggle—this inevitability—through realistic events and emotions that they each endure.

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