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The Bluest eye. An overview. The key elements. Prologue The narrator Introduction of the main character Claudia and Maureen Cholly and Pauline The ending. The prologue. First prologue indicates the influence that white media has on black perceptions of worth and beauty

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the bluest eye
The Bluest eye
  • An overview
the key elements
The key elements
  • Prologue
  • The narrator
  • Introduction of the main character
  • Claudia and Maureen
  • Cholly and Pauline
  • The ending
the prologue
The prologue
  • First prologue indicates the influence that white media has on black perceptions of worth and beauty
  • The repetition and lack of punctuation indicates the lack of meaning this image has for Pecola
  • Highlights the contrast between Pecola’s dysfunctional family and the Dick and Jane one
  • Second prologue provides an outline of what is to come
  • Symbolism of marigolds
claudia macteer
Claudia MacTeer
  • Narrates the novel - allows for childlike view on things, but also adult perspective in hindsight
  • Provides a contrast to Pecola: home, family, attitude
  • Rejection of the white doll indicates her rejection of white standards of beauty
  • Her refusal to worship Maureen highlights her lack of self loathing
  • Her sympathy for Pecola is at odds with the society they live in
the main character
The Main character
  • Initial fascination with white beauty shown through her obsession with Shirley Temple
  • Mr Yacobowski’s treatment sparks her realisation she is ugly
  • Pecola wishes she could be white - Mary Janes
  • Her desire for blue eyes is symbolic of her wish for white beauty
  • Does not defend herself against insults as she believes she is ugly
claudia and maureen
Claudia and Maureen
  • Maureen illustrates the link between class, colour and social standing
  • She is worshipped by adults and children alike for her light skin and eyes
  • She values white beauty - learned from her mother - and negates black values
  • Claudia refuses to accept her superiority, unlike most of the other characters
  • Maureen insults them for their colour
cholly and pauline
Cholly and Pauline
  • The narrative perspective shifts to allow us to understand how the characters learn their values
  • Cholly brutalised from young age; traumatic sexual initiation leads to his brutalisation of others
  • Pauline once considered herself beautiful, but her lost tooth and lameness made her bitter
  • She loves and cares for the white family she work for while rejecting her own family
the ending
The Ending
  • Loathing of Pecola results in her rape and pregnancy
  • She turns to Soaphead church for the blue eyes she feels will make her happy
  • Gains the acceptance she craves in madness
  • Is literally destroyed by racial self loathing
  • Somehow Morrison ends on optimistic note - suggests things can be different
4 circles of control 4 seasons
4 circles of control(4 seasons)
  • Physical violence/ intimidation (lynching, rape, gay bashing)
  • Economic discrimination (lower pay, job segregation, lack of access to education)
  • Psychological steroetyping (limiting roles and expectations)
  • self-policing (sub accept and/or act out steroetypes to protect themslves from the doms)
  • Major themes include: internalized racism, circle of oppression, romantic love, materialism, religion, the role of parents and what a good parent is, the media, sexuality and how it infuses our lives with joy or hatred, the perils of self-righteousness.
four seasons
Four Seasons
  • Instead of conventional chapters and sections, The Bluest Eye is broken up into seasons, fall, winter, spring, and summer. This type of organization suggests that the events described in The Bluest Eye have occurred before, and will occur again. This kind of cycle suggests that there is notion that there is no escape from the cycle of life that Breedloves and MacTeer live in.
  • Therefore, she needed to break the narrative unity of the novel to move from Pecola’s story to her parents’ stories and the stories of other adults and children who influence her life. The novel then is plotted as a series of character vignettes.
  • Each of these vignettes traces a tragic fall.
  • The story of Pecola, the wounded little girl who wishes to solve her problems by gaining the racial mark of whiteness, blue eyes, begins in the innocence of that wish and ends tragically in her insanity, a playing out of that wish.
  • Cholly also begins in innocent. An abandoned child who nevertheless loves the only mother and father figures he has available, but finds them to abandon him too, one by dying and the other by his drinking. Cholly’s hurts as a child are compounded by his hurts as an African-American living in a racist society. His initiation into adult sexuality is perverted by two white men who want to have sexual pleasure at his and his lover’s expense.
  • The story of Pauline also begins in innocence. As a girl, Pauline wanted someone to love her and after finding someone who would, she was ruined in her thinking by the Hollywood images of beauty and romantic love. She ended up living the constricted morality of respectability, loving her white employers and hating her own family. Pauline and Cholly both emotionally abandon their children.
symbol marigold
  • There are two major metaphors in The Bluest Eye, one of marigolds and one of dandelions. Claudia, looking back as an adult, says in the beginning of the novel, "there were no marigolds in the fall of 1941". She and her sister plant marigold seeds with the belief that if the marigolds would grow and survive, so would Pecola's baby. Morrison unpacks the metaphor throughout the book, and, through Claudia, finally explains it and broadens its scope to all African-Americans on the last page. "I even think now that the land of the entire country was hostile to marigolds that year. Certain seeds it will not nurture, certain fruits it will not bear . . ." The implication is that Pecola, like so many other African-Americans, never had a chance to grow and succeed because she lived in a society ("soil") that was inherently racist, and would not nurture her.
symbol dandelion
  • The other flower, the dandelion, is important as a metaphor because it represents Pecola's image of herself. Pecola passes some dandelions going into Mr. Yacobowski's store. "Why, she wonders, do people call them weeds? She thought they were pretty". After Mr. Yacobowski humiliates her, she again passes the dandelions and thinks; "They are ugly. They are weeds". She has transferred society's dislike of her to the dandelions.