Analysis Of The Novel The Bluest Eye By Toni Morrison

Categories: Novel

In the Prologue, the sentences are short and straight to the point. The narration of the Dick and Jane story established what an ideal family was. The story also gave insight as to what to expect throughout the novel. The excerpt “Mother, will you play with Jane?” shows the parents lack of response to Jane and foreshadows the family dynamic and the isolation many characters experience at home later in the novel. Along with that the quote “They play a good game.

Play, Jane, play” also foreshadows the close friendship Frieda, Pecola and Claudia develop throughout the novel. The Prologue is repeated twice afterwards and the punctuation and structure of the paragraph has disappeared. These chaotic paragraphs help to reflect the lack of clarity and sense of pressure which if felt by many of the female characters. Lastly, in the quote “it never occurred to us that the earth itself might have been too yielding”, the narrator has come to the realization that the baby’s death may not have been her fault.

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She had come to understand her powerlessness in that situation and realize she had no control over it. Morrison uses an analogy to convey the meaning of the conversation.

Morrison compares the conversation to a dance, in which sometimes the “words move in lofty spirals”, while other times “they take strident leaps”. Just like a dance there are different dynamics and tones being conveyed to the reader throughout a conversation. By watching “their faces, their hands” and “truth in their timbre” Frieda and Claudia can put the words together like a puzzle to find the true meaning of what they are saying.

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Morrison uses a great comparison of “another sound enters but is upstaged by still another”, showing that throughout the conversation their could have been a “fight” for attention or a want to “outshine” someone else. Claudia professes that she hates Shirley Temple because “she danced with Bojangles” who should have been “soft-shoeing and chuckling with me”. Shirley Temple being a white girl and Bojangles being a black man, I think that Claudia became envious and jealous of Shirley. Claudia also had no interest in the white baby dolls, that every girl seemed to love. Claudia’s hatred for these two things are derived from the idea that white skin and blue eyes are beautiful, and since she did not have those traits she began to loathe anything that resembled what she wasn’t and couldn’t be. Instead of loving the doll her mother had given her, she decided to “examine it to see what it was that all the world said was lovable”. Her curiosity enticed her to discover what these dolls and girls had that she didn’t. Claudia destroying her doll can be seen as an act of resistance against the ideal beauty characteristics which praised white girls for their appearance but diminished hers.

The Breedloves remained in the storefront because “they were poor and black” and “believed that they were ugly”. This belief reveals that the Breedloves think poorly of themselves and their family as well, and that they have accepted the idea that they are ugly. But not everyone saw the ugliness they believed was so visible, “you looked” and “wondered why they were so ugly; you looked closely and could find the source”, and after some time you’d realize that the ugliness “came from conviction, their conviction”. The true issue behind the Breedloves’ ugliness is themselves. They are the reason why others view them the way they do. Since they are so convinced that they are ugly others view them that way as well, but if they carried themselves with more confidence than others would view them differently. If you believe and act as though you are ugly you are giving others the right to view you that way as well.

Pecola enjoys visiting the whores and “running their errands” (page 51), and in return “they did not despise her”. The whores share stories with Pecola about their “boyfriends” and joke with her just as friends do. The whores welcome Pecola with open arms, and Pecola seems to stop by whenever she feels like it. Through Pecola’s interaction with the whores, it seems evident that the women dislike men and only rely on them for earning money. These three whores are trying to teach Pecola that as a woman you do not need a man to depend on and that you can survive on your own. “Pecola looked and looked at the women. Were they real?”. Pecola is fascinated by these women, how independent they were and well off without a man. Junior was neglected as a child because his mother, Geraldine, never showed him any love or affection. She never allowed Junior to cry, and as long as his needs were “physical she could meet them”. She would never “talk to him or coo to him” or ever show him any love other than the bare necessities. Junior began to realize how his mother treated the cat compared to him, and directed “his hatred of his mother to the cat”. Junior’s main reason for bullying is his hatred towards his mother. He sees that she is capable to love and neuter an animal and is angry she doesn’t do the same for him. The incident between Pecola and Junior becomes ironic because both Pecola and Junior were never shown affection while growing up. Junior treats her so poorly and humiliates her, meanwhile they are both going through the same thing. He takes pride in her humiliation without realizing how similar they both truly are. Pauline’s injured foot isolates her from her own family and the world. This injury introduces her to organization, which she enjoys greatly. Her foot doesn’t make any noise on carpeted floor which is beneficial to her when babysitting the twins. After Cholly demanded money from the woman Pauline was working for she was embarrassed. The woman demanded that she leave Cholly and then she would give Pauline her money. Pauline refused to end her relationship with Cholly just because a white woman deemed it necessary. “I started to leave him once, but something came up… I was set in my mind to go. I can’t even ‘memeber now what held me.” Although leaving Cholly would’ve been beneficial to Pauline, she held out hope that things would eventually return to how they used to be, and held on to the small moments that “wasn’t all bad”.

Cholly was abandoned as a child. At only 4 days old his mother had “wrapped him in two blankets” and “placed him on a junk heap by the railroad.” Luckily, his Aunt Jimmy, had seen her digarding the child and rescued him. Being abandoned by the woman who is supposed to love and neuter you can affect someone mentally. They may begin to think that they are unwanted and ask why she didn’t love him.

Thankfully, Cholly did have someone to care and raise him in the way his mother had failed to do. Cholly’s first sexual experience scarred him for life. Not only was his privacy invaded but the white men forced him to continue. “The flashlight man lifted his gun down from his shoulder, and Cholly heard the clop of metal. He dropped to his knees.” Cholly had no choice, the men had guns and had threatened his life if he did not do as they said. This traumatic experience, however, did not trigger his hatred towards the white men but towards women. “Cholly wanted to strangle her, but instead he touched her leg with his foot.” This experience reveals that there is more to Cholly than what meets the eye. He treats Pauline poorly, but it all stems from this one experience which has scarred him forever.

Works cited

  1. Morrison, T. (1970). The Bluest Eye. Vintage Books.
  2. Bouson, J. B. (2003). Quiet as It's Kept: Shame, Trauma, and Race in the Novels of Toni Morrison. State University of New York Press.
  3. Byerman, K. D. (1998). Fingering the Jagged Grain: Tradition and Form in Recent Black Fiction. University of Georgia Press.
  4. Davis, C. T. (2009). African Americans in the Nineteenth Century: People and Perspectives. ABC-CLIO.
  5. Grewal, G. (1996). Circles of Sorrow, Lines of Struggle: The Novels of Toni Morrison. Louisiana State University Press.
  6. Harris, T. M. (2007). The Toni Morrison Encyclopedia. Greenwood Publishing Group.
  7. Harris, T. M. (Ed.). (2013). Critical Insights: The Bluest Eye. Salem Press.
  8. Japtok, M. (2009). Trauma and Identity in Contemporary American Fiction. Palgrave Macmillan.
  9. Lentricchia, F. (1991). New Essays on the American Novel: The Bluest Eye. Cambridge University Press.
  10. Samuels, W. J. (1993). Freud and Fiction. University Press of Mississippi.
Updated: Feb 17, 2024
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Analysis Of The Novel The Bluest Eye By Toni Morrison. (2024, Feb 17). Retrieved from

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