The Bluest Eye

Hardcover | April 27, 2000

byToni Morrison

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The Bluest Eye, published in 1970, is the first novel written by Toni Morrison, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature.

It is the story of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove -- a black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others -- who prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different. This is the story of the nightmare at the heart of her yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment.

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From Our Editors

  Published in 1970, The Bluest Eye is the first novel written by Toni Morrison, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature. It's the story of 11-year-old Pecola Breedlove - a black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others - who prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will ...

From the Publisher

The Bluest Eye, published in 1970, is the first novel written by Toni Morrison, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature.It is the story of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove -- a black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others -- who prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world w...

From the Jacket

The Bluest Eye, published in 1970, is the first novel written by Toni Morrison, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature. It is the story of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove -- a black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others -- who prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world ...

Toni Morrison has worked in publishing and has taught at various universities, including Yale, Rutgers, and the State University of New York at Albany as the Schweitzer Chair. She is currently Robert F. Goheen Professor at Princeton. She received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993, and the National Book  Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 1996.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:224 pages, 7.55 × 5.28 × 0.82 inPublished:April 27, 2000Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0375411550

ISBN - 13:9780375411557

Oprah's Book Club 2.0

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Energized This book was dense. It is a short novel. The author does have a gift for using words to create a unique reading experience. The words emit energy off the pages as you read over the plot.
Date published: 2012-07-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Brutal Truth Eleven year olds shouldn't have a care in the world. They should be free to play and dream. Life never was like that for Pecola Breedlove. She learned that it wasn't fair; that it was even less fair the darker your skin was, the darker your eyes were and the uglier your were perceived to be. According to those around her, Pecola has all those things going for her. She did have a glimmer of hope, a very unreasonable one. She knew that the girls with blue eyes had the best of lives, heck, even the baby dolls had blue eyes and everyone loved them. Pecola just knew that if she had blue eyes it would make all the difference in her life. This was a difficult story to read. Each of the characters started life with a reasonable shot at happiness. But the smallest change in circumstances can have a huge impact that seem to magnify over time. I wouldn't have thought that by injuring her foot, Pecola's mother's life would take such turns that would lead to a husband who would be the one to lead to Pecola's final break. I can't say 'good book' nor 'bad book'; it's one of those books you need to read and decide for yourself. In 2000, Oprah selected this for her book club.
Date published: 2011-02-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Painfully poignant While The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison may be a small novel (around 200 pages -- I read it in just a few sittings), it has the capability of bringing about a certain emotional turmoil within the reader. I can't remember the last time after reading a novel where I was actually upset after its final pages. Throughout, Morrison's novel is unrelenting in its depiction of struggle, hardship, race, and the quest for beauty. Many times I had to put down the novel and take a break -- just for the pain you'll feel for our young protagonist; this reluctance to read ahead I can only ascribe a similar reading experience was when I read Nabokov's Lolita. While Morrison's novel isn't that distasteful in subject matter, a lot of horrible things do happen to innocent people. An affecting, extremely well-written, poetic novel. Definitely a book that people should read, but I have a hard time recommending it because it isn't an enjoyable experience in my opinion. A hard novel to "love," but I did like reading The Bluest Eye.
Date published: 2010-05-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A Brutal, Sad Story This is a brutal, sad story. On the surface it is the story of being black and poor in the forties. It is also a story of rape, incest, racism, and self-loathing. I found the writing beautiful and the style very intriguing. This book is written in several voices switching from the main narrator to different character points of view. The tale is also not told in a linear fashion but jumps back and forth from one incident to another and at times stopped to tell a character's life story from beginning to end. I really enjoyed this format which gave us insight into all the major players. There were a few parts that were extremely difficult to read including a few pages of a pedophile's point of view. These are graphic scenes and will make this book not for everyone. I don't know if 'enjoy' would be the proper term but I did experience this book and do recommend it with the above reservation noted.
Date published: 2007-12-17
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not so great This book had very little flow to it and I really didn't connect with the characters. It was quite confusing at times, and although it had some very intruiging symbolism, I was not very impressed with this novel.
Date published: 2002-06-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This book is amazing!!! I'm a 13 yrs old soon to be 14. I chose this book for my book report, because of the Oprah book club, since it chooses so many great books. This was one of my first books, from her book club. I've got to admit that I didn't know what I was getting myself into, when I was going to read this book. But when I started to read this book, it already amazed me at how interestingly she started this story about this white family, and then this kind of prologue that compared the life of Pecola to the barreness of the earth (a metaphor). This story is beautifuly written and completed amazingly by Toni Morrison's bold of vision. This girl Pecola Breedlove goes through low self-esteem, molestation, the missing care and love of her family, a little of racism which she doesn't understand and insanity. At the end her friends Frieda and Claudia(the child narrator of this story) which I also thought were her frirnds let her down and were only her friend to feel better of themselves. When I read this bo
Date published: 2002-04-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Literature that Lasts Toni Morrison will be a household name 200 years from now, while the Danielle Steeles, Stephen Kings and yes, even the Clancys and Grishams will be long forgotten. Morrison’s first book, the Bluest Eye was published in 1969 and is as fresh, challenging, moving and relevant today, over thirty years later, as it was then. Make no mistake – it’s probably no easier to read. But struggle through the poetic language, the complex metaphor and you’ll find an astounding and at times, revolting story of two families, the McTeers and the Breedloves, with Pecolo Breedlove and her bluest eye at the centre. It is a story of courage, insanity pain, love, beauty and fear that you’ll never forget. That won’t be forgotten, even hundreds of years from now.
Date published: 2000-10-11

Extra Content

Read from the Book

Nuns go by as quiet as lust, and drunken men and sober eyes sing in the lobby of the Greek hotel. Rosemary Villanucci, our next-door friend who lives above her father's cafe, sits in a 1939 Buick eating bread and butter. She rolls down the window to tell my sister Frieda and me that we can't come in. We stare at her, wanting her bread, but more than that wanting to poke the arrogance out of her eyes and smash the pride of ownership that curls her chewing mouth. When she comes out of the car we will beat her up, make red marks on her white skin, and she will cry and ask us do we want her to pull her pants down. We will say no. We don't know what we should feel or do if she does, but whenever she asks us, we know she is offering us something precious and that our own pride must be asserted by refusing to accept.School has started, and Frieda and I get new brown stockings and cod-liver oil. Grown-ups talk in tired, edgy voices about Zick's Coal Company and take us along in the evening to the railroad tracks where we fill burlap sacks with the tiny pieces of coal lying about. Later we walk home, glancing back to see the great carloads of slag being dumped, red hot and smoking, into the ravine that skirts the steel mill. The dying fire lights the sky with a dull orange glow. Frieda and I lag behind, staring at the patch of color surrounded by black. It is impossible not to feel a shiver when our feet leave the gravel path and sink into the dead grass in the field.Our house is old, cold, and green. At night a kerosene lamp lights one large room. The others are braced in darkness, peopled by roaches and mice. Adults do not talk to us -- they give us directions. They issue orders without providing information. When we trip and fall down they glance at us; if we cut or bruise ourselves, they ask us are we crazy. When we catch colds, they shake their heads in disgust at our lack of consideration. How, they ask us, do you expect anybody to get anything done if you all are sick? We cannot answer them. Our illness is treated with contempt, foul Black Draught, and castor oil that blunts our minds.When, on a day after a trip to collect coal, I cough once, loudly, through bronchial tubes already packed tight with phlegm, my mother frowns. "Great Jesus. Get on in that bed. How many times do I have to tell you to wear something on your head? You must be the biggest fool in this town. Frieda? Get some rags and stuff that window."Frieda restuffs the window. I trudge off to bed, full of guilt and self-pity. I lie down in my underwear, the metal in the black garters hurts my legs, but I do not take them off, because it is too cold to lie stockingless. It takes a long time for my body to heat its place in the bed. Once I have generated a silhouette of warmth, I dare not move, for there is a cold place one-half inch in any direction. No one speaks to me or asks how I feel. In an hour or two my mother comes. Her hands are large and rough, and when she rubs the Vicks salve on my chest, I am rigid with pain. She takes two fingers' full of it at a time, and massages my chest until I am faint. Just when I think I will tip over into a scream, she scoops out a little of the salve on her forefinger and puts it in my mouth, telling me to swallow. A hot flannel is wrapped about my neck and chest. I am covered up with heavy quilts and ordered to sweat, which I do, promptly.Later I throw up, and my mother says, "What did you puke on the bed clothes for? Don't you have sense enough to hold your head out the bed? Now, look what you did. You think I got time for nothing but washing up your puke?"The puke swaddles down the pillow onto the sheet -- green-gray, with flecks of orange. It moves like the insides of an uncooked egg. Stubbornly clinging to its own mass, refusing to break up and be removed. How, I wonder, can it be so neat and nasty at the same time?My mother's voice drones on. She is not talking to me. She is talking to the puke, but she is calling it my name: Claudia. She wipes it up as best she can and puts a scratchy towel over the large wet place. I lie down again. The rags have fallen from the window crack, and the air is cold. I dare not call her back and am reluctant to leave my warmth. My mother's anger humiliates me; her words chafe my cheeks, and I am crying. I do not know that she is not angry at me, but at my sickness. I believe she despises my weakness for letting the sickness "take holt." By and by I will not get sick; I will refuse to. But for now I am crying. I know I am making more snot, but I can't stop.My sister comes in. Her eyes are full of sorrow. She sings to me: "When the deep purple falls over sleepy garden walls, someone thinks of me. . . ." I doze, thinking of plums, walls, and "someone."But was it really like that? As painful as I remember? Only mildly. Or rather, it was a productive and fructifying pain. Love, thick and dark as Alaga syrup, eased up into that cracked window. I could smell it -- taste it -- sweet, musty, with an edge of wintergreen in its base -- everywhere in that house. It stuck, along with my tongue, to the frosted windowpanes. It coated my chest, along with the salve, and when the flannel came undone in my sleep, the clear, sharp curves of air outlined its presence on my throat. And in the night, when my coughing was dry and tough, feet padded into the room, hands repinned the flannel, readjusted the quilt, and rested a moment on my forehead. So when I think of autumn, I think of somebody with hands who does not want me to die.