The Bluest Eye
A NovelBook - 1970
From the critics
Frightening or Intense Scenes: rape; other violent scenes including a near-death scene
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“Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another--physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion.”
And fantasy it was, for we were not strong, only aggressive; we were not free, merely licensed; we were not compassionate, we were polite; not good, but well behaved. We courted death in order to call ourselves brave, and hid like thieves from life. We substituted good grammar for intellect; we switched habits to simulate maturity; we rearranged lies and called it truth, seeing in the new pattern of an old idea the Revelation and the Word.”
All of our waste which we dumped on her and which she absorbed. And all of our beauty, which was hers first and which she gave to us. All of us--all who knew her--felt so wholesome after we cleaned ourselves on her. We were so beautiful when we stood astride her ugliness. her simplicity decorated us, her guilt sanctified us, her pain made us glow with health, her awkwardness made us think we has a sense of humor. Her inarticulateness made us believe we were eloquent. Her poverty kept us generous. Even her waking dreams we used--to silence our own nightmares. And she let us, and thereby deserved our contempt. We honed our egos on her, padded our characters with her frailty, and yawned in the fantasy of our strength.
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The novel relates the "how" if not the "why" of the rape of Pecola Breedlove and her subsequent descent into madness, characterized by her fantasy of her having blue eyes.
To do so, it traces each of the characters through their experiences of racism and the internalized self-hatred produced by racism, and shows how each of these leads to Pecola's abuse by the entire community of Lorien, Ohio and her rape by her father.
The novel, in so doing, peels back the curtain on the devastating impact of internalized racism.
In the novel The Bluest Eye, the most significant example of a person having low self-esteem is Pecola. In The Bluest Eye, the reader learns that Pecola was raped and impregnated by her father in the family kitchen. Toni Morrison describes Cholly’s thoughts at the time of the rape as being excited. The narrator, Claudia, comments, “...the silence of her stunned throat was better than Pauline’s easy laughter had been” (Morrison 162). Pecola’s silence is an example of her being powerless and a contributing factor to her low self-esteem. Pecola feels that her future is hopeless and she feels betrayed by the rape at the hands of her father. This is not how a father is supposed to treat his daughter. A father should talk to his daughter, give her advice, and make her feel that she is worth something. Pecola feels alone and powerless and that she can not trust anyone.