“The Bluest eye” by Toni Morrison is a book that focuses on the tragic effects of the impositions of the middle-class white race on the rest of the population, particularly the American ideals of beauty. Facing this heavy burden is Pecola, an eleven-year-old African-American girl in search of female identity.
Pecola’s story shows the psychological wear and tear of a black girl who seeks acceptance in a society that devalues and discriminates against people in her class.
The novel takes place in the American society of World War II (1939-1945), where discrimination and racism were explicitly manifested.
As secondary issues, the author also delves into the demonization of the black race, the concept of imposed beauty, truncated childhood, and the status of women.
The novel opens with something dark and dirty about Pecola, the girl that everyone hates and who they call ugly. Such is the case of Pecola, that the girl herself looks ugly and therefore wants to reach the established standards of beauty, and have beautiful blue eyes, which gives the novel its title.
Pecola’s father is also a very important figure in the novel, his name is Cholly, and as we go along, we will discover more things about this character of black ethnicity that so many secrets hide.
The mother figure, Polly Breedlove, mother of Pecola, is someone important even if she disappears soon from the plot after leaving the girl, being a very small Pecola. And the girl’s brother named Sammy, who is also not given all the relevance he should.
Also important in the plot are Frieda and Claudia, two neighboring girls who do not discriminate against Pecola but join her, two very, very interesting characters that play a crucial role at the end of the plot.
The rest of the characters are secondary, although it is true that I would introduce it as the main one more. As secondary, I will simply name some of the ones I liked the most, without giving any details about them. Among them: Georgie, Mr. Henry, Mrs. MacTeer or China, Poland, and Miss Marie.
If I had to make a defect in the book, it would be that I have found too many characters with very little development.
I think it would have been better to introduce some more details about the life of the characters or their qualities and virtues. However, I must confess that I could not do without any of them because they all symbolize something in this particular framework that Toni Morrison has created.
Toni Morrison has created a network of themes that make the reading complete and appealing, and although in principle we find a very hard plot and complicated characters, it is a plot that leaves the reader in a complete state of shock.
The story is told in four distinct chapters, in which we find four titles that correspond to the seasons: Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer, and within each heading includes one or several titles that advance some detail of what we will see next.
Toni Morrison, as he explains in the epilogue written many years later in 1993, wrote this work seeking to deepen at the same time several of the problems that the black population had to suffer, such as the demonization of the color race and its influence on the most defenseless members of it:
“I focused my attention on how something as grotesque as the demonization of an entire race could take root within the most delicate member of society: a girl; the most vulnerable member: a female creature.”
Toni Morrison closes the epilogue, referring to the limited success of the work when it was published, with the following words:
With very few exceptions, the initial publication of “The Bluest Eye” was like Pecola’s life: discarded, trivialized, misunderstood. And it has taken twenty-five years to win for her the respectful publication that this edition constitutes
It is here when the author after a wise analysis of the work, finally recognizes the value of her book and the current reading of it makes possible that recognition as if the new times had made it possible, a time when the black race. She is no longer discriminated in the way she used to, and in the same way her work has been accepted and recognized.
What may seem like a normal plot, with some drama, becomes a real tragedy to have little Pecola, only 11 years old as the main protagonist. It serves to give us that the world looks different if your skin color is different from the rest.
“The Bluest eye” is a cold, realistic, raw reading, a reading that does not like, but that breaks you and spider a little more inside. But without a doubt, a reading that you cannot leave without reading.
Toni Morrison achieves with each of her words a touch of tenderness thanks to the voice of the narrators that makes “The Bluest Eye” a novel of a beautiful prose and an uncomfortable, but necessary depth.
Description of the main characters.
First, the main characters are those around which the story revolves.
The main axis is in the character of Pecola Breedlove, a girl of only 11 years old, of black ethnicity, with brown eyes and above all, very ugly. She suffers bullying in the school she goes to, and her environment is full of white people, so she suffers a lot of discrimination, and her greatest desire is to have eyes like those of white girls.
Charles “Cholly” Breedlove: Father of Pecola and Sammy, husband of Pauline, alcoholic who leaves the family.
Claudia: A nine-year-old girl, sister of Frieda, daughter of Mrs. Mac Teer. Reject the beauty schemes imposed by white society.
Frieda: Claudia’s sister, eleven years old. Admire the beauty schemes of white society.
Maureen Peal: Girl of great beauty.
Miss Marie, China, and Poland: Decadent prostitutes who live in the same building as Pecola’s family and do not discriminate against anyone.
Pauline Breedlove: Mother of Pecola and Sammy.
Sammy: Pecola’s brother.
Mr. Jacobowski: Store owner, where Pecola and the children of the neighborhood buy sweets.
Mrs. Mac Teer: Mother of Claudia and Frieda, of distant and apathetic treatment towards the whole world.