The Bluest Eyes by Toni Morrison

bluest eyeThis book was originally banned and wasn’t allowed to get published until about recently when most people stopped becoming so narrow-minded and superstitious over certain small things. It was written in the year 1970 when Toni Morrison was teaching in Howard University with her two sons, but it wasn’t out again sometime around 2009. But even now, as seen all over the internet, parents are claiming that this book should not even be there at schools, and should be taken out at many homework reading lists and university literature.

Many people are now fighting back. They’re writing articles and academic journals that this book should not be censored, especially after the incident which took place back in 2013 in September, when Debe Terhar – the President of Ohio State Board of Education – announced that the book should be taken out to the Ohio Education Ministry (Ohio was Toni Morrison’s birthplace and is proud of her achievements and awards because of all her books) because it contained ‘child pornography’.

This proves to be wrong, and I do not agree with this. This story was taken from lots of point of views. In first person point of view from a African-American girl named Claudia, talking about what she and her sister thought about a young girl named Pecola who used to be temporarily living in their home as a foster child because her house burnt down after a  huge fight between her parents. Then, along the way, the first person point of view changed to third person omniscient point and flash backs.

Pecola Breedlove was a girl who ended up pregnant because she got raped by her father. The entire town was speaking and gossiping about her and its fateful accident. Pecola herself was only twelve when she got pregnant. Claudia and Frieda, two sisters were probably the only ones in the town that wanted to baby to survive, in which it didn’t. It died in the womb, and the town people whispered that Pecola was better off without the child anyways and they were glad that “it didn’t make it because it would embarrass the entire town”.

There were some background and flashbacks about Pecola. Her father was named Cholly. He and his wife Pauline was on the edge of the marriage. They fought often — physically and verbally. But before that, they had loved each other. Pauline even thought that she was crazy in love to Cholly. She hoped that Cholly felt the same when they married each other–before they moved. The entire point of marriage fell into pieces. At first, the fights were for some money and financial things, after all they were quite poor, before it resolved to petty little things and never really recovered back to it used to be.

Pecola was always a peculiar little girl. She was bullied and teased at her school days. It was long ago — the old time, where schools had no campaigns against bullying. The kids there were probably following the bad pattern of cruel behaviors. There were a huge split in the middle back there – lots of racism around, dividing the kids between the ‘whites’ and the ‘blacks’. My heart ached to understand that this is something that was entirely wrong. I feel glad that my school discourages all this attitudes. As I said it in my writing many times, the act of bullying could easily affect the victim, both mentally and physically.

Pecola wanted to be beautiful. She wanted to have blue eyes, something that was normal in all the ‘whites’ but were not in the ‘blacks.’ She felt insulted all the times. It lead to her belief that blue eyes are the privillage of easier life. She really wanted to change all that by having the bluest eyes, which highlights the title of this story. She went to a priest to ask him to change her eyes. Her request melted the selfish priest’s heart with her innocence although he knew very well that her single wish was impossible. When he saw the girl, he wished that for once he could make miracles.

The priest promised her that she would have blue eyes, only that it was only her that could see the blue eyes, nobody else. I think it symbolizes that people shouldn’t fail to see the beautiful side of themselves. Pecola was happy and always believed she had blue eyes, even at her pregnancy. Claudia and Frieda, the only girls in town I mentioned earlier in the story who had an innocent and pure hearts, wanted to help her, but they were held back by their parents and the elders who didn’t want them to associate with Pecola. Sadly, they would probably grow like everybody else in town, because “they would understand the world better” and “know what is right and evil” (p. 189).

The Bluest Eye could become what everybody in the book. The people in the town had prejudice against Pecola’s pregnancy, so did the closed-minded readers. They failed to see the beauty of its meaning, and only focused on a pathetic tale about a young black girl who was rapped by her father and left pregnant. They recognized nothing but a story that should be cringed against. I really hope that now, with the ban lifted, everybody will see better.

As New York Times wrote about it: “The Bluest Eye is an enquiry into the reason why beauty get wasted in this country. The beauty in this case is black: the wasting is done by culture engine that seems to have been designed to murder possibility.”

My fear is that my review won’t do the book justice. There is so much written here that left me with feelings of sadness and horror, but also of hope — hope that our world now has moved on from the racism of the past and will eventually surpass it. The Bluest Eye is highly moving and sensitive, and written in an addictive easy and lyrical style. Check out these beautiful, crafted, poetic words at the end of the prolog: “There is really nothing more to say – except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how.”

Toni Morrison is an American novelist, editor, and professor. Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed characters. Among her best known novels are The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon and Beloved. She won the Nobel Price in Literature in 1993 and Beloved became the-Pulitzer-Prize-winning-novel. She is respected by everybody in Lorain, the place where she was born and the place where this book took place; a small quiet town in Ohio, USA.


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