The Bluest Eye

The Bluest Eye
Overview
Themes
Main Characters
Pecola, an African American girl from an abusive family, yearns for blue eyes. Her wish represents the cultural messages African American girls hear, messages that tell them they can never be beautiful. When Pecola's father rapes her, she becomes desperate for eyes so pretty that no one will ever be cruel to her again.
Construction of Beauty
Society shapes our understanding of beauty and often equates beauty with worth.
Self-Loathing
Characters learn from American culture to despise themselves for not being white.
Claudia MacTeer
The narrator; spirited girl trying to figure out the world
Pecola Breedlove
Abused girl; equates having blue eyes with happiness
Frieda MacTeer
Girl obsessed with Shirley Temple; defends Claudia and Pecola
Cholly Breedlove
Angry, abusive, hard-drinking father
Pauline Breedlove
Stern, religious mother; believes she is ugly
Symbols
Numbering
Movie Stars
Symbolize idealized—and primarily white—beauty standards in the 1940s
Light Eyes
Represent the unattainable ideal—a genetic impossibility for Pecola
Flowers
Stand for growth, hope, and fertility
2012
Year Morrison received the Presidential Medal of Freedom
1960s
Decade the black power movement coined the slogan "black is beautiful"
4a.m
Time Morrison woke up every morning to write The Bluest Eye
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Rank of The Bluest Eye on the American Library Association's 100 most frequently challenged books list for 1990-99
Author
TONI MORRISON BORN 1931
Morrison wrote The Bluest Eye, her first novel, while working as an editor and single mother. Although The Bluest Eye was not well received when it was published, Morrison has since earned numerous accolades and awards for her novels, many of which raise important questions about race.
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