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Structural Elements of Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye Essay

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The Bluest Eye:  Structural Elements     

 

In The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison employs structure as an aid for telling her story. She uses at least three unique structural devices for this purpose. First, Morrison begins the novel with three passages that prepare the reader for the shocking tale about to be told. Second, the novel is divided into four major parts with each quarter given the name of a season. Third, the novel is further divided into seven sections that are headed by a portion of the passage that began the novel.

The three passages that begin The Bluest Eye appear to be from a grade school primer. They portray a family's life in identical terms, but they differ in punctuation, capitalization, and spacing. The first passage is normal in all of these aspects:

Here is the house. It is green and white. It has a red door. It is very pretty. Here is the family. Mother, Father, Dick, and Jane live in the green-and-white house. They are very happy. See Jane. She has a red dress. She wants to play. Who will play with Jane?

The second passage lacks punctuation and capitalization

Here is the house it is green and white it has a red door it is very pretty here is the family mother father dick and jane live in the green-and-white house they are very happy see jane she has a red dress she wants to play who will play with jane

The third passage lacks all --- punctuation, capitalization, and spacing. According to Herbert Rice, "what appears on the page is quite literally a chaotic array of letters" (19):

Hereisthehouseitisgreenandwhiteithasareddooritisveryprettyhereisthefamilymotherfatherdic kandjaneliveinthegreenandwhitehousetheyareveryahppyseejaneshehasareddressshewantsto playw...


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...have a few parallels in their lives: both are searching for someone to play with them, and both find the answer in a friend, although Pecola's friend is imaginary.

The Bluest Eye is an innovative novel whose touching and compelling story could not have been told without Morrison's unique structural devices. One such tool is the use of seasons to divide the narrative and put an interesting twist on the order of events. Perhaps the most unique structural element is the three primer passages that begin the novel. The first passage introduces a model household to which the rest of the families in the novel are compared. Finally, an equally innovative structural element is the use of lines from the primer passages to head subsections in the novel, illustrating the vast differences between the mythological Dick and Jane world and the reality of black family life.

 


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