This debut novel by the Noble Prize-winning author Toni Morrison portrayed the story about the oppression of women through the character Pecola Breedlove. Several stages of a woman’s development towards womanhood are depicted in the novel. The story not only indicates the horrors of racial oppression of women but also the violent acts that are brought upon them by the people in their lives.
The writer profoundly portrayed the ugly side of the then society where people were judged by their skin color alone. How this toxicity of society can affect individuals and become their cause of demise is splendidly illustrated throughout the story. The rich and bold language took this literature piece to a new height.
After first publication, the book didn’t get much of a valuation of its actual worth in literature. After passing few decades, the novel is considered one of the most significant works of American classic literature.
In the following section, you will find a brief overview of the book.
|Original Title||The Bluest Eye|
|Publisher||Holt, Rinehart, and Winston|
|Originally Published||September 6th, 2005|
|First Published||June 1st, 1970|
Named after seasons, the 216 pages book is divided into four sections. It starts with “Autumn” and ends with “Summer”. The novel mainly focused on its main character Pecola. The story of Pecola is told through the eyes of several narrators. The main narrator in this regard is Claudia MacTeer. Claudia narrates the story from two different angles, the adult Claudia and the nine years old Claudia. The adult version narrates the story between 1940-41 and the younger one observes present incidents as they occur.
The story is set in Loraine, Ohio in the year 1941. The horror of the Great Depression is slowly fading and the MacTeer family is barely holding up against the bad economic wave. What they can’t do for the money is they make it up with love.
In the middle of this situation the MacTeer family takes in a boarder named Mr. Henry and later they take in Pecola Breedlove because their house was burnt down by her father. The two daughters of the MacTeer’s Claudia and Frieda become friends with Pecola and they love celebrity Shirley Temple for her beauty.
Pecola returns to her home and to her regular miserable life after a while with the MacTeer’s. Her father, Cholly Breedlove is an abusive alcoholic. Her parents quarrel on a regular basis and Pecola holds her responsible for that. She thinks her life is miserable because she is ugly and she is certain about that for the reason, the way she is treated in her community. Therefore, she prays for blue eyes and wishes to be beautiful like the blondes.
On a fateful day in 1941, Cholly Breedlove returns home drunk and rapes her own daughter, Pecola, in the kitchen. When Pecola tells her mother, she infuriates in rage and hits Pecola. Pecola then visits Soaphead Church and asks a local charlatan for blue eyes as she thinks all her miserableness lies in her skin color.
In the summer, the MacTeer daughters find out about the pregnancy of Pecola with her father’s child. Unlike all the community members they want Pecola’s child to live but fate seemed to have other plans. The child dies, leaving Pecola insane. Pecola, in her psychosis, believes she has obtained the blue eyes.
In this part of the novel, the writer gives us a flashback of Pecola’s parents. They both had tragic lives in their youth which led them to their dysfunctional adult versions. Mr. Breedlove had an awful incident when he had his first sexual experience which developed a hatred for women in him. Mrs. Breedlove, as a young girl, had a lame foot and considered herself ugly and an outcast of society. She works in a white family residence and despises herself for being black and ugly.
The novel shows the tremendous amount of malice of the human’s heart to the audience with utmost transparency. How a monster is born out of a man with the wrong influence by society is lucidly portrayed in the novel.
About the book, all I can say is, this is a must-read classic for those who aspire to understand the nature of society and individuals.