The Bluest Eye
Length: 1343 words (3.8 double-spaced pages)
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The major characters in The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison were Pecola Breedlove, Cholly Breedlove, Claudia MacTeer, and Frieda MacTeer. Pecola Breedlove is an eleven-year-old black girl around whom the story revolves. Her innermost desire is to have the "bluest" eyes so that others will view her as pretty in the end that desire is what finishes her, she believes that God gives her blue eyes causing her insanity. She doesn't have many friends other than Claudia and Frieda. Throughout the book we see how Pecola is picked on by other children her age and then later on abused by Cholly, her own father. Her mother doesn't care for her either her actions toward Pecola are not without contempt. Cholly Breedlove is Pecola's drunken father. He has never known a loving family; his father deserted him and his mother who then left him to die in a garbage can. His great aunt saves him and raises him until her death, which occurred when Cholly was only thirteen or fourteen years old. Cholly himself deserts his family, not physically but he is always in a drunken state and doesn't provide the family with the barest necessities. Cholly dies alone in a warehouse. Claudia MacTeer is the main narrator in the story. She is about nine years old when they story takes place, she is remembering the story. Claudia is black and doesn't see anything wrong with that. She isn't like the other girls who think it would be better if she was white, she doesn't buy into that idea, she destroys the white dolls that she receives for Christmas. Claudia has learned from her mother how to be a strong black female and express her opinion in a white dominated society. Frieda is a lot like her sister and had the same morals imposed on her by her mother. Frieda is about ten years old when the story takes place.
The book The Bluest Eye is not told in chronological order and skips from the story to a look into the past of certain characters. There are two narrators, Claudia MacTeer is one who tells the actual story but there is also an omniscient narrator who tells us about the character's lives. The book starts in the fall of 1940 and Claudia and Frieda have just gone back to school.
Their family is having some troubles paying the bills so they rent a room out to Mr. Henry but then find out that they will have another guest soon because Pecola Breedlove is going to come stay with them because her father has just burned down their house. We then hear memories about the time when Pecola is living with the MacTeers and then the second narrator comes in and gives us some background on the Breedlove family. This is when we find out about Pecola's wish for blue eyes and her living situation before she came to the MacTeers. The next season we hear about from Claudia is winter. She tells us about a girl named Maureen who is "perfect" in the eyes of all the other students and teachers. Claudia, Frieda and Maureen are walking home together, even though Claudia and Frieda don't like her, when they see Pecola getting harassed by some boys in the school yard and they rescue her. Maureen tries to befriend Pecola but only to torture her some more. Frieda stands up for Pecola but then Maureen makes a comment on how the girls are black and therefor ugly which hurts Pecola even more. Now we hear from the second narrator again about a woman named Geraldine and her son Junior. Junior sees Pecola and invites her into the house to supposedly show her some kittens and give her one. Junior kills his mother's beloved cat and blames it on Pecola. Geraldine shoves Pecola out of the house calling her "black" as if it was an insult, which just adds to her harassment by others. We hear from Claudia again about the spring where the roomer Mr. Henry sexually harasses Frieda and about how the whippings they receive are worse in the spring. Claudia and Frieda go to visit Pecola and find her at the home of the white people where her mother works. The omniscient narrator comes in again and tells us about Pauline Breedlove's childhood and the beginning of her marriage to Cholly. We also hear about Cholly's childhood. The next major event, whish is told by the second narrator, is when Cholly comes home drunk one day and rapes his own daughter and just leaves her lying on the kitchen floor. Again from the second narrator we find out about "Soaphead" Church who is "Faith Healer" he claims he speak to god. Pecola asks him for blue eyes and he has her kill a dog that he was too repulsed by to kill himself and says she will have blue eyes if something happens to the dog when she gives him the "food." We now hear from Claudia again about the summer, when everyone finds out that Pecola is pregnant by her father. Pecola has gone insane and she only speaks to her imaginary friend who she views to be real. Pecola believes that she has blue eyes. In the last section we find out that the baby dies because it was born prematurely and that Pecola lives with her mother on the edges of town, he father has died and her brother has left town.
In The Bluest Eye Toni Morrison makes a judgement on the human condition. Her opinion is that people depend on the world to find their self-value and their self-worth. This opinion has had a lot of truth in my life. I used to look at others to figure out how I should be feeling and what others saw of me I saw in myself. That view on life gave me a lot of problems. I believe that what Toni Morrison is saying about the human condition is true in some ways. It's sad that we rely on others to see what we should see in ourselves. The people who have gotten away from that trend have made a great improvement in their lives.
There are many movies and t.v. shows that have this point of view because it is sadly a fact of life. The one movie that stands out in my mind is a French movie called "Le diner des cons." Which is about these friends who find the weirdest people to take to diner and the one who has the "weirdest" wins, this one guy thinks it is wrong yet to fit in with his "friends" he goes along with the scheme. The people who are chosen think they are really making friends but it is all a scam. There are many people who would do anything to fit in with the "cool" group. I think it is sad that we decide who we are by the group of people we associate with.
Being a black child growing up in the 1940's you faced a lot of criticism and harassment not only from the white children but also from other black children. Pecola Breedlove is a good example of the constant harassment. She was hurt and harassed by everyone even her own parents. She had low self-esteem and a low self worth because of her surroundings while Frieda and Claudia thought more of themselves because of their upbringing. I liked The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, it isn't my favorite book out of the ones that I have read but I enjoyed it, some parts were a little too graphic for me though. Even so this book is within the top five books that I have ever read.