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The Bluest Eye
Transcript of The Bluest Eye
Plot & Characters
An individual must find beauty within thyself, and not look for society to do so.
Basic Components of
The Bluest Eye
Basic Components of
The Bluest Eye
The Bluest Eye
, opens with an introduction of Claudia and Frieda MacTeer, who live together with their mother and father, in the year of 1941. The MacTeer family holds high standards for their children, which is evident through their parent's sternness but loving nature. Claudia and Frieda's parents take in two guests, Mr. Henry and Pecola Breedlove. The girls, Claudia and Frieda, express a genuine liking towards Mr. Henry, and develop an unbending relationship with Pecola, who's parents constantly fight and recently was almost killed by her father who tried to burn the family's house down. Early on the readers are introduced to Pecola's infatuation with Shirley Temple, whom Claudia MacTeer despises.
Upon Pecola's return to her family's home, the readers are introduced to the difficulty of her life. In addition to the constant abusive nature of her parent's relationship, Pecola is repeatedly bullied at school and outside of school. Within school, girls and boy label her as ugly, and teachers alienate her from the other students. When Pecola is out in the public, women and men avoid looking her way, and she is constantly tormented by her longing for the blue eyes, society acknowledges as beauty.
The readers are given an synopsis of the lives of Pecola's mother and father who contribute to their daughter's lack of self-esteem. Pauline, Pecola's mother, as a young girl, stepped on a rusty nail which punctured her foot and left her with a deformity. Due to this incident, it left her completely isolated from the other children, and contributed to the distant nature she held towards the world. Pauline lacked the feeling of beauty and happiness, but filled this void with going to movies. Ultimately, this made her life even harder because she began to notice the things she and her husband lacked as compared to the movie stars. She begins to fight with her husband, each day and eventually hates the home she lives in and would much rather work in a Caucasian women's home than her own. Pauline treats the family she works for with more respect and love than her own, finding more appreciation there. Cholly, Pecola's father haves trouble with women his entire life. Having being abandoned by his mother, disowned by his father, and humiliated by white men who caught him having sex with a girl named Darlene, Cholly had become a calloused man when introduced to Pauline. His attitude towards life as well as women brings about major conflicts within his relationship with Pauline and Pecola.
Cholly's misconstrued perspective of life and women, leads him to raping his daughter. Upon telling Pauline, she is beaten because her mother does not believe her. This experience ignites Pecola's urge to have blue eyes, and she finally acts on her desire and attempts to get them. She talks to Soaphead Church, who pretends to be an employee of God, and a psychic about getting blue eyes. He tricks her into believing that if she feeds Bertha Reese's dog, Bob, a piece of meat and he begins to act strangely that she will receive her blue eyes but if the dog does not act strangely she will not receive the blue eyes. Of course, Pecola is not aware that the meat was covered in poison and will surely kill the dog. After giving, the dog the meat, the reaction of the dog leaves Pecola believing that she now has blue eyes. After returning home, she is raped again by her father, ultimately becoming pregnant.
When the town, discovers that Pecola is pregnant, they say horrible things about her and the baby. Many of the townspeople speak about the nature of her family, and wish that they baby would die. However, Claudia and Frieda never stop being a friend to Pecola. They plant flowers in hopes that if they grow, Pecola's baby will live but the result is the death of Pecola's baby and the flowers never bloom. Cholly ultimately leaves town and dies, and Pecola and her mother move to another side of town. Pecola still believes she has blue eyes, even if no one else sees them but her.
Within the novel
The Bluest Eye
, Toni Morrison utilizes imagery to provide the readers with mental images of the particular subject being discussed. This technique allows the readers to not only visualize her descriptions but allow create a deeper, personal understanding. For instance, Claudia states, "I want to sit on the low stool in Big Mama's kitchen with my lap full of lilacs and listen to Big Papa play his violin for me alone" (22). Within this quote, the words "low", "full" and "listen" appeal to the visual and auditory senses and allow the readers to visualize Claudia in her grandmother's kitchen listening to her grandfather play his violin. This quote of imagery also can be an appeal to pathos, allowing the audience to feel within themselves why Claudia would rather experience being in her grandmother's kitchen, rather than receiving a doll on Christmas.
Published in 1970
Monday, April 14, 2014
The Life of Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison, born Chloe Anthony Wofford, on February 18, 1931, is known for her novels which provide thought provoking images and examinations of the African-American society. Many of these novels such as but not limited to
The Bluest Eye
Song of Solomon
have received vast amounts of critical acclaim, becoming world-wide best sellers. Morrison also received the Pulitzer Prize for
, another novel which is also a national bestseller.
Born in the Midwest, specifically Lorain, Ohio, Morrison was raised in a family where Southern African-American oral traditions were essential to life. Initially, her families roots where embedded in the South, until her father, a shipyard welder, and her mother, a church attending woman, decided they wanted to remove their family from the racial tensions of the South. However, there was no escape from these traditions for Morrison, her sister Lois, and her two brothers Raymond and George. This is one key factor that shaped Morrison's writings.
Another factor that influenced Morrison's writings were her grandparents. Being present during the time of the South's Great Migration, her grandparents were exposed to the explicit racial tensions of the South. From this, her grandparents placed a strong value on educating themselves as well as their children. Due to this Morrison became an extremely gifted student, often outshining her classmates, and graduating with honors from high school in 1949, all while facing racial discrimination. her experiences of racism are often seen within her works. Upon graduating, she attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she majored in English and received a minor in Classics. Morrison also received a M.A. in English from Cornell University.
Toni Morrison holds many titles, such daughter, college graduate, mother, editor, lecturer, and professor. However, the seemingly more laudatory title, would be author, due to the amount of history she has created and barriers she has broken.
B."But now she's too addled to keep up."
C. Guess: too slow
D. Definition: to confuse (addling, addles)
E. Sentence: My grandmother was too addled to follow the slang in our conversation.
B. "Having therefore, imbibed, as it were, of the nectar."
C. Guess: to be consumed of
D. Definition: to drink; to receive in the mind; (imbibing)
E. Sentence: As the beverages were imbibed and discarded, the trash can began to overflow.
B. "Every possibility of excess was curtailed with it."
C. Guess: intertwined into something
D. to abridge; to reduce; to cut short; (curtail, curtailer, curtailing)
E. Sentence: Because Alice did not learn how to change a tire, her abilities to put on a spare tire were curtailed.
B. "Outdoors was the end of something, an irrevocable, physical fact, defining and complementing our metaphysical condition."
C. Guess: unable to be avoided
D. impossible to be altered, changed, or provoked (irrevocability, irrevocably)
E. Sentence: A person's birth date is an irrevocable fact.
B. "I was bemused with the thing itself, and the way it looked."
C. Guess: disgusted
D. to cause someone to be confused and somewhat amused (bemusedly, bemusement)
E. Sentence: The parasitism of a caterpillar by a wasp places me in a state of bemusement.
The Bluest Eye
The Bluest Eye
, Pecola is always searching for the acceptance of society as far as beauty. She believes that having blue eyes, the bluest eyes, will allow people to not only see how beautiful she is but most importantly love her. If only Pecola could look inside herself and find something to love, a reason to know that she is beautiful regardless of her having blue eyes or not, she would not have to torment herself with the longing to alter her appearance. She would no longer have to be consumed by what society labels as beautiful. Finding what makes one beautiful as an individual, despite the image society has provided, is the lesson Toni Morrison is sending to the readers.
The Bluest Eye takes place in Lorain, Ohio during the year of 1941. This era, was the end of the Great Depression, an economic pitfall of the United States, which began with the stock market crash in October 1929. Consumer spending and investments declined consistently during the Great Depression, which can be seen when Mrs. MacTeer complains about the amount of milk Pecola drank. To help with the economic strife of the United States, President Franklin Roosevelt put reform measures in place, also evident when Mrs. MacTeer references the "CCC camps".
B. "Instead I looked with loathing on new dresses that required a hateful bath in a galvanized zinc tub before wearing."
C. Guess: silver layer;
D. to cover (steel or iron) with a layer of zinc to prevent from rusting; to cause a force capable of change to become active (galvanize, galvanizing, galvanized)
E. The rise in the rate of Human Trafficking, galvanized an abundance of people into action.
B. "Thus the conversion from pristine sadism to fabricated hatred, to fraudulent love."
C. Guess: feeling of sorrow or mild form of depression
D. enjoyment that someone gets from being violent or cruel or from causing pain (sadist, sadistic, sadistically)
E. Many serial killers take part in sadism.
B. "She would go on like that for hours, connecting one offense to another until all of the things that chagrined her were spewed out."
C. Guess: to cause irritation, to provoke anger
D. a feeling of being frustrated or annoyed because of failure or disappointment (chagrin, chagrining)
E. The fact that Marcia was unable to provide for her kids, was a starting source of chagrin in her life.
B. "Rather, it foists itself on the eye of the passerby in a manner that is both irritating and melancholy."
C. Guess: to be the center focus
D. to force someone to accept (something that is not good or not wanted)
E. The grade she received foist itself in her memory, reminding her each day of her failure.
B. "...The fire seemed to live, go down, or die according to its own schemata."
C. Guess: one's personal preference or choice
D. a structured framework or plan; schemas
E. Young children believe their parents should do everything for them based upon their schemata.
B."Except for the father, Cholly, whose ugliness (the result of despair, dissipation, and violence directed towards petty things and weak people) was behavior the rest of the family---Mrs. Breedlove, Sammy Breedlove, and Pecola Breedlove---wore their ugliness, put it on, so to speak, although it did not belong to them."
C. Guess: the breaking apart of a whole
D. the process of slowing disppearing or becoming less (dissipating, dissipated)
E. The dissipation of her tooth enamel, revealed the effects of a diet containing too many acidic foods.
B. "her one good foot made hard, bony sounds; the twisted one whispered on the linoleum.
C. Guess: a glossy type of wooden floor
D. a type of material that is produced in thin sheets, has a shiny surface and is used to cover floors and counter surfaces
E. The linoleum place on the counter tops made cleaning the surface a much easier task.
B. "Cholly, by his habitual drunkenness and orneriness, provided them both with the material they needed to make their lives tolerable."
C. Guess: an activity one engages in while intoxicated
D. having an irritable disposition; easily annoyed or angered (ornery)
E. The orneriness of the teacher's attitude made his students avoid asking questions during class.
B. "She was one of the few things abhorrent to him that he could touch and therefore hurt."
C. Guess: something that is unusually coherent
D. causing or deserving a strong disliking (abhorrently)
E. The odor of the store was abhorrent to Justin, therefore he chose to not buy groceries there.
B. "When he was enraged by some human effort or flaw, he was able to regard himself as discriminating, fastidious, and full of nice scruples."
C. Guess: quick-witted
D. very careful of how you do something; liking few things, hard to please; (fastidiousness; fastidiously)
E. The fastidious nature of Carl, made keeping his home a difficult and almost impossible task.
Pecola Breedlove is the central character of the novel. She does not possess a dominant attitude, which is evident through her calm demeanor and failure to defend herself against the constant violence she experiences. Her ugliness is frowned upon throughout the town and what has caused her to become alienated within the town, her school, and her family. As expressed in the beginning of the novel, the readers are informed that she is longing to be loved and liked, and infatuated with what she believes will help her attain these things: blue eyes. Pecola is a round/ dynamic character not only because she experiences a conflict and is changed by it but because she is a complex character. With her friends, Claudia and Frieda and the ladies from upstairs, Pecola is at her happiest, but in the presence of her family, she becomes a mysterious character, wanting to disappear from her situation.
Claudia MacTeer is a juxtaposition of Pecola Breedlove. She faces the same pressures from what society labels as beautiful versus that of herself, but seemingly possesses more certainty of who she is and a family of a more sane background in comparison to Pecola. Claudia also possesses a stronger demeanor than Pecola. She is more sassy, more aggressive, and undoubtedly less passive. Through the incidents with Rosemary, Maureen, and the boys at the playground, Claudia is a character who will protect herself and others when necessary from being bullied. She is a flat character, because throughout the novel she remains the same. From the beginning, Claudia and Frieda remained loyal to Pecola, and during Pecola's pregnancy continued to consider their friendship. Claudia also did not face any major conflicts throughout this novel.
Pauline Breedlove contributes to the condition of Pecola Breedlove. She has never felt beautiful or apart of something greater since childhood, due to the condition of her foot, but also the failed attempt to assimilate with the other women within her town. However, Mrs. Breedlove does find sanity and happiness from working in the house of a Caucasian women, where she puts her pride into tending to the women's home and children, better than her own. Mrs. Breedlove is a flat character because she encounters no conflict and does not undergo any particular changes for growth. She is the same character the readers are introduced to, until her final scene.
Cholly is another primary contributor to Pecola's lack of self-esteem. He constantly drinks and abuses Mrs. Breedlove physically and sexually, often times in the presence of the children. Cholly suffers from the humiliations of his past, such as his first sexual experience, the denial of his father, and also the abandonment of his mother. The issues of Cholly's life causes him to posses an enraged attitude, often time releasing this anger on women, primarily within his family. He rapes Pecola on various occasions, and ultimately impregnates her. He is a round/dynamic character, evident through the change her undergoes as far as demeanor upon being humiliated by the white men that find him having sexual intercourse with Darlene, and order him to continue or else be killed. It is here that Cholly develops a lack of respect for women, particularly black women. This experience shapes him for the continuation of his life.
3. What is the peak event, or climax, of the novel? What major conflicts lead up to it and what is the resolution afterward?
Level Three Questions
1. If there is any special language used (dialects, foreign words, slang, etc.) give examples and explain its use and purpose. What is the effect?
The Bluest Eye
, Toni Morrison utilizes a form of special language known as slang which creates a connection between her works and her readers. For instance, Mrs. MacTeer states, "Three quarts of milk. That's what was in that icebox yesterday. Three whole quarts. Now they ain't none. Not a drop. I don't mind folks coming in and getting what they want, but three quarts of milk! What the devil does anybody need with three quarts of milk?" (22). Within this quote, Mrs. MacTeer utilizes various colloquial phrases, but it is in fact these phrases that allow the readers to understand the degree of her anger and may be also able to relate her words to a personal scenario.
Morrison also uses to slang to create a connection between her works and her audience, through explicit vernacular. For instance, in a conversation between Mr. and Mrs. Breedlove about getting coal to warm the house, Cholly states, "I don't give a shit how you get it" (41). Undoubtedly, there was a more formal way Morrison could have written Cholly's dialogue, but it is more effective and understandable to write in a manner that would more than likely happen between two people like Mr. and Mrs. Breedlove.
The climax of the
is when Pecola's father, Cholly, rapes her. This is the climax, which arise as, "the tenderness welled up in him, and he sank to his knees, his eyes on the foot of his daughter. Crawling on all fours toward her, he raised his hand and caught the foot in an upward stroke... his soul seemed to slip down his guts and fly out into her, and the gigantic thrust he made into her..." (162-163). The tenderness that raised in Cholly, and the gestures made towards Pecola escalated into the climax, ultimately rape. Major conflicts such as Cholly tries to burn the house down, Pecola is bullied by the boys and girls of her school, alienated by teachers from other students, and begins her menstrual cycle. The resolution afterward is Pecola's request for blue eyes, the death of her baby, she becomes delusional, Cholly dies, and Pecola and Mrs. Breedlove move to the other side of town.
4. What did you learn from this novel? In answering this, you may comment on any aspect of the novel, including how it is written?
In reading this novel, the lesson taken is to create my own definition of beauty. Pecola was consumed by what she believed to be beautiful, the blue eyes, because that's what society accepted. She was as written in
The Bluest Eye
, "A little black girl who wanted to rise up out of the pit of her blackness and see the world with blue eyes" (174). Pecola was unable to see her beauty within, because she was infatuated with society's perspective, ultimately driving herself insane. Her condition is enough to make me reconsider the labels of society such as beauty, size, skin tone, and hair length.