Set in 1930’s Ohio, Pecola is a young black girl who only desires one thing in the whole world, to have blue eyes; a want which has developed from growing up in a place where fair skin and blue eyes are favoured. Throughout the novel we are taken deeper into the characters affected by Pecola’s presence, whilst exploring their own destructive views on life, love and beauty.
Toni Morrison’s poetic style once again explores the questions we all ask ourselves. She took me back to childhood when I questioned who I was and why I was the way I was. This novel brings out the forgotten voices of childhood which silently linger throughout our lives, as she touches on why certain people love a certain way, and how certain people perceive themselves based on external influences; whether that be family, friends or simply society.
The story is told by by Claudia Macteer, in a third person omniscient view. Claudia and her sister Frieda become friends with Pecola as children, and Claudia’s voice beautifully observes the society she is growing up in, switching between her as an child and adult. Claudia appears to be a strong character, rather than becoming a victim of her surroundings, she finds a way to take control, unlike Pecola.
Morrison’s aim was to show how self-hate can infect someone as innocent as a child (as stated in the Novels Forward), and what effect it has on life.
Pecola is constantly described as ugly, I guess in order to understand beauty it must be compared to its opposite. I wondered is Pecola really ugly? What is it about her that could be so ugly and how does she see blue eyes changing her life for the better? The fact that this is not answered reflects many of our insecurities. Today we can get bigger breasts, a skinny nose, we can even alter the shade of our skin, but the artificial changes does not make one feel complete, those rooted questions remain unanswered.
The novel did answer to a few characters. What is interesting is the novel introduces you to a disturbed character; and by the end of the novel their issues are somewhat justified. For instance I wondered why Mrs Breedlove stayed in a relationship intoxicated with abuse? I wondered what could bring a grown man, Like Cholly to abuse an innocent child? We can admit their choices and actions were not right. Morrison brings us deeper into their stories, even touching on childhood, justifying their actions. I will never fully comprehend child abuse, and to me if a relationship goes sour and children are involved, the victim should get out, this does not always happen and The Bluest Eye exhibits how ones mentality and outlook on life can leave them stuck in a certain situation.
It is a controversial book, and it definitely requires a mature mind to read it. This book has you closing your eyes in disgust at some moments and nodding your head with truth during others.
I would recommend this book to anyone, particularly those who can relate to not fitting in, or those wanting to change something about themselves. Morison opens our eyes to the consequences of behaviour and just how twisted life can turn out to be.
“Love is never any better than the lover. Wicked people love wickedly, violent people love violently, weak people love weakly, stupid people love stupidly, but the love a free man is never safe.”
― Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye