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Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye

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Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye

Chloe Ardelia Wofford, known as Toni Morrison, was born on February 18th, 1931, in Lorain, Ohio (“Toni Morrison”). Toni Morrison belongs to the cohort of the acknowledged female writers. The novels that made Toni Morrison famous are Song of Solomon (which is commonly referred to as the writer’s magnum opus), Jazz and Beloved, among others. Toni Morrison became a Nobel Prize winner in literature in 1993, and Pulitzer Prize laureate (“Toni Morrison”). In terms of Toni Morrison’s creative work, The Bluest Eye, is regarded as a semi-autobiographical novel, revealing its author’s understanding of topical social issues such as  society and identity, as well as entities that have positioned themselves as the eternal verities throughout the history of mankind (e.g. the good, kindness, loyalty, duty, vice, and virtue). Moreover, The Bluest Eye is the first novel written by Toni Morrison (“Toni Morrison”). It is interesting in terms of formal and structural analysis.

Making an attempt to identify the main themes and concerns in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, it is important to admit the following. The points of the author’s concern within The Bluest Eye are coming of age, socialization, perception of beauty, self-actualization, and self-development (Morrison). The main themes, in this regard, are the so-called generation gap problem (parent-children relationship issue), formation and development of personality, age, gender, and race-based prejudices, and human perception of beauty (Morrison). Thus, from perspectives of literary analysis, the piece of fiction under analysis can be characterized as Bildungsroman.

The plot revolves around life of eleven-year-old girl, Pecola Breedlove, and her family (Morrison). Pecola Breedlove is the focal character and protagonist of the book. Throughout the novel, its protagonist manifests itself as the flat character, since not much emphasis is laid by the author on the development of this girl./p>

The story is told in the first person singular, which indicates author’s narrative. A nine-year-old girl, Claudia MacTeer, appears as the narrator of certain episodes of the novel, for instance, while introducing the protagonist, Pecola Breedlove, to the reader (Morrison). Apparently, the character is the exponent of author’s views and perception of the world. In spite of her age, Claudia MacTeer is a strong character. However, traditionally, children like Claudia and adolescents like Claudia’s sister Frieda and Pecola Breedlove herself are addressed as the so-called unreliable narrators.

Prologue and Afterword present keys to osmosis of Morrison’s main ideas. The novel’s prologue is an important formal element, which performs a function of tuning up a reader, inviting the audience to make predictions and assumptions concerning the novel’s events and the setting. The prologue reminds of the child’s game, written in a form of a nursery rhyme (Morrison). Thus, the topic areas and the general tone of the work of literature are introduced to the audience.

Considering the novel’s plot, thematic areas, subject matter, and the author’s intention, it is possible to assume that the writer reflects upon the process of maturity and self-actualization of the members of African American community, prejudiced and stereotyped by the majorities from perspectives of ethnicity, race, and gender. Moreover, according to Toni Morrison, children, the most vulnerable element within the framework of society, are still oppressed by the adults (Morrison).   

In one of the latest editions of the novel published on May 2007 by Vintage International, it is claimed that some parts of the foreword have been earlier published as the afterword. Reflecting upon her mission as the writer and the purpose of writing The Bluest Eye, her main concern was to apprehend and reveal difficulties of being an African American child; living and growing up in the community where everyone elsee seems to repel or reject you, or stays indifferent towards your life (Morrison). Certainly, the author admits that with the wisdom of hindsight, the answers to these questions and understanding of the issues became more obvious. The author merely aims at exploring corruption of human heart, “woundability” of children and adolescents (females, mostly), and “social and domestic aggression” that makes young generations of African Americans suffer (Morrison). In this regard, it is important to admit that the novel is based on Toni Morrison’s own experience: the author recalls a friend of hers, a young girl, who desired most of all to have blue eyes (Morrison). Thus, Toni Morrison as an artist occupies herself with understanding of human perception of beauty.

To sum up, it is important to understand the main distinction between the world of children and the world of adults within Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye. Considering the relationship between the adults and children in the plot of the novel, it is possible to assume that both grownups and youngsters are often dismissive of the virtue. However, children are frank and straightforward, whilst the adults are impudent and arrogant. Children are mostly inquisitive, while adults are ignorant out of their own preference. The world of adults is often compromised and means disillusionment, while the world of children is full of hope and perception.

Considering all the aforementioned facts, the main motives and concerns, reflected in Toni Morrison’s book The Bluest Eye, manifest themselves through dealing with the problems of coexistence of cultures and ethnicities within a community, as well as the relationships between adults and children. The novel’s structure along with Prologue and Afterword constitute important artistic tools. Apart from that, it helps the author to get her message across the audience. This message consists in understanding, kindness and respect that will help to revive the virtues and eternal verities, and guarantee people their worthy life.  

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