The Bluest Eye contains a number of autobiographical elements. It is set in the town where Morrison grew up (Lorain), and it is told from the point of view of a nine-year-old girl, the age Morrison would have been the year the novel takes place (1941). Like the MacTeer family, Morrison's family struggled to make ends meet during the Great Depression. Morrison grew up listening to her mother singing and her grandfather playing the violin, just as Claudia does. In the novel's afterword, Morrison explains that the story developed out of a conversation she had had in elementary school with a little girl, who longed for blue eyes. She was still thinking about this conversation in the 1960s, when the Black is Beautiful movement was working to reclaim African-American beauty, and that is how she began her first novel.
[...] What to do before the tears come. She remembers the Mary Janes. Each pale yellow wrapper has a picture on it. [ . ] To eat the candy is somehow to eat the eyes, eat Mary Jane. Love Mary Jane. Be Mary Jane.” (p.37-38) This is symbolic of Pecola's wish to internalize white standards. Pecola interprets poor treatment and abuse as her own fault. She believes that the way people observe her is more real than what she herself observes. [...]
[...] In her vision of what the Breedlove family lacks, Morrison imagines a world in which a sofa is defined by what has been lost or found in it, what comfort it has provided or what loving has been conducted upon it. A bed is defined by someone giving birth in it, a Christmas tree by the young girl who looks at it. The Breedloves' home lacks these kinds of positive symbols: “There were no memories among those pieces. Certainly no memories to be cherished.” (p.26) Just as their family name is ironic (they do the opposite of their name), the few household objects they do possess—a ripped couch, a cold stove—are symbolic of suffering and degradation rather than of home. [...]
[...] During this difficult and somewhat lonely time, she began working on her first novel, The Bluest Eye, which was published in 1970. This first novel was not an immediate success, but Morrison continued to write. Sula, which appeared in 1973, was more successful, earning a nomination for the National Book Award. In 1977, Song of Solomon launched Morrison's national reputation, winning her the National Book Critics' Circle Award. Her most well-known work, Beloved, appeared in 1987 and won the Pulitzer Prize. [...]
[...] The truly horrifying thing was the transference of the same impulses to little white girls.” p.15), and Morrison uses this process as a starting point to study the complex love-hate relationship between blacks and whites. Claudia hates them for their whiteness, not for more defensible personal reasons. Ultimately, her shame of her own hatred hides itself in pretended love: “When I learned how repulsive this disinterested violence was, that it was repulsive because it was disinterested, my shame floundered about for refuge. [...]
[...] Napieralisky in his article called “Morrison's The Bluest and publiqhed in 1994: plague that ravages the landscape and infects people in the world of the novel and generation after generation is racism. Racism denies truth, freedom, justice, and the opportunity to experience identity and dignity. The tragic victim is neither a king nor even one little girl but an entire people.” In the novel, racism affects Pecola's life especially in the sense that it distorts her beauty standards. Beauty is the second theme of the novel introduced in this chapter. [...]
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