“The Bluest Eye”

 

The Bluest Eye pic

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

Toni Morrison’s debut novel, originally published in 1970. I read a 1994 Plume paperback, with a 1993 afterward by Morrison.

Buy the Book! 

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Times Read: 1

The Plot:

In the fall of 1941, young Claudia and her sister Frieda feel jealousies, sympathy, and confusion when faced with the experiences of themselves and other young black girls in Lorain, Ohio.

That’s a terrible plot description, but I don’t know how to encompass the totality of this story in a couple of sentences. Claudia is ostensibly narrating the story, but we are given scenes she could not possibly know about and hear perspectives from characters she is not privy to. Pecola, another young girl, is more central to the plot and she is the one who desires the titular blue eyes of the title.

This was my first time reading a Toni Morrison book (I’m so late to this party, but I’m glad I finally arrived). When I read older books that are considered classics, I go in with rules: Don’t expect it to be too good – literature assigned in schools can be outdated or passed along simply because the school owns 30 copies; Try to judge impartially –  “classic” literature often fails to connect emotionally because it’s showing the craft as function and form, not as spirit; Try to judge it in its time – maybe it won’t work for a 2022 reader, but try to keep in mind what it may have been like to read it in the 1970s.

I didn’t have to worry about any of the above. I could have picked The Bluest Eye off the new release wall. It feels immediate and fresh. It’s so beautifully written. I can’t remember the last book I wanted to write so many quotes from. The construction is shockingly experimental and bold for a debut author – there is a narrative taking place over the course of a year, but it is fragmented and interrupted by visits to other characters and times. I have no idea how an author knows how and when to fragment a story like this and how they have the confidence to stand by the decisions; I’m always so impressed when it works this well.

Only one character, introduced near the end (Soaphead Church), feels a misstep or mishandled; he appears late in the book and is given a protracted backstory, revealing him to be a pedophile and charlatan. Because his section follows the incestuous rape of a child (done by another male character), the repetition of pedophilia could make the case that The Bluest Eye is about pedophilia and rape, but judging from all the careful thematic work that comes before, I don’t think that was Morrison’s intent. I’ve heard movie reviewers say that incest and sexual abuse can be necessary or essential to a narrative, but it’s a strong spice and if you use too much, the whole piece will simply take on the flavor of that spice. Which The Bluest Eye is in danger of in the end.

The rape scene is graphic and upsetting and told from the adult rapist’s point of view and, I have to admit, if I was a teacher, I’m not sure how I’d feel assigning it to freshmen. There would have to be a lot of discussions in that classroom. Not that children shouldn’t encounter stories about sexual abuse, but the fact that the rape and Soaphead Church’s defense of his pedophilic urges come from the perspectives of adult males throws me a little.

Pecola’s rape is a centerpiece of the story and though it’s horrific, I would never argue against it being in this book. It’s the Soaphead Church thing that seems a step too far. He could have been a charlatan with a bitter failed relationship in his past and that would have been enough for us to watch his actions with Pecola and understand (though not condone) how he may have become the person he is.

Anyway. More papers have been written about The Bluest Eye than I can imagine and I know I can’t add anything new to the conversation. It feels a bit presumptuous to even do a post, but I hope anyone else who’s been intending to read it will finally pick it up.


[1] I could quote the opening pages in full. So good, so immediately grabbing. But I’ll just start you with the first lines:

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.

(p.3)

[2] From the start, Morrison lays out what’s going to happen – we are told Pecola will become pregnant with her father’s child. The language is brutal, but it’s good to start this way; the reader knows what they’re getting into:

We had dropped our seeds in our own little plot of black dirt just as Pecola’s father had dropped his seeds in his own plot of black dirt.

(p.5-6)

[3]

There is really nothing more to say – except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how.

(p.6)


Autumn

[4]

Adults do not talk to us – they give us directions.

(p.10)

[5] Reference:

Our illness is treated with contempt, foul Black Draught, and castor oil that blunts our minds.

(p.10)

.

Black Draught was a patent medicine used as a purgative in the 19th century and well into the early part of the 20th century, with veterinarians prescribing these to constipated cattle and horses. It is a saline aperient mixture used along with blue mass.

Black-Draught is also the name of a once-common commercial liquid syrup laxative, sold since the late 19th century, a cathartic medicine composed of a blend of Senna and magnesia. Much like castor oil, it was a commonly used folk remedy for many ailments.

[6] Reference:

Love, thick and dark as Alaga syrup.

(p.12)

.

From Alaga’s “About” section on their site:

Over 100 Years of Sweetness

In 1906, the Alabama-Georgia (ALAGA) Syrup Company was established by Louis Broughton Whitfield, Sr. along with his wife, Willie Vandiver Whitfield. Mrs. Whitfield, a native of Montgomery, Alabama, named the company to represent both her home state and that of her husband who was from LaGrange, Georgia.

It appears to be cane-sugar-based pancake syrup, though they also sell hot sauce and Yellow Label Syrup (honey, corn syrup, cane syrup).

[7]

So when I think of autumn, I think of somebody with hands who does not want me to die.

(p.12)

[8] Reference:

“Peggy – from Elyria.”

(p.13)

.

Elyria is a city in the Greater Cleveland metropolitan statistical area and the county seat of Lorain County, Ohio. As of 2020, the city had a population of 52,656. The city is home to Lorain County Community College. The city’s name is derived from the surname of its founder, Heman Ely, and Illyria, the historical name used by ancient Greeks and Romans to refer to the western Balkans.

 

[9] References:

He smelled wonderful. Like trees and lemon vanishing cream, and Nu Nile Hair Oil and flecks of Sen-Sen.

(p.15)

.

From Murray’s Pomade’s site listing for Nu-Nile Hair Slick:

This hair slick is perfect for creating the “wet” look. Use for parting, lifting, and styling hard to manage hair. Provides shine and control for all day hold. Great for waves, curls, bobbed and straight hair styles.

Sen-Sen was a type of breath freshener originally marketed as a “breath perfume” in the late 19th century by the T.B. Dunn Company and then produced by F&F Foods until they discontinued the product in July 2013. Sen-Sens were available in small packets or cardboard boxes. Similar to a matchbox of the time, an inner box slid out from a cardboard sleeve revealing a small hole from which the tiny Sen-Sen squares would fall when the box was shaken. Sen-Sen’s ingredients were liquorice, anise, gum arabic, maltodextrin, sugar, and natural and artificial flavors.

[10] Reference:

“I like Jane Withers.”

(p.19)

.

Jane Withers (1926 – 2021) was an American actress and children’s radio show host. She became one of the most popular child stars in Hollywood in the 1930s and early 1940s, with her films ranking in the top ten list for box-office gross in 1937 and 1938. Her breakthrough role was as the spoiled, obnoxious Joy Smythe opposite Shirley Temple’s angelic orphan Shirley Blake in the 1934 film Bright Eyes.

[11] Reference:

We wanted to miss the part about Roosevelt and the CCC camps.

(p.25)

.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a voluntary government work relief program that ran from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men ages 18 – 25 and eventually expanded to ages 17 – 28. The CCC was a major part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal that supplied manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state, and local governments. The largest enrollment at any one time was 300,000. Through the course of its nine years in operation, three million young men took part in the CCC, which provided them with shelter, clothing, and food, together with a wage of $30 (equivalent to $1000 in 2021) per month ($25 of which had to be sent home to their families).

By 1942, with World War II raging and the draft in effect, the need for work relief declined, and Congress voted to close the program.

[12] Reference:

The house smelled of Fels Naphtha.

(p.25)

.

Interestingly, in the edition of The Bluest Eye I read, Fels Naphtha is mentioned at least twice, with a two-“h” spelling. But looking it up, the spelling is a little different:

Fels-Naptha is an American brand of laundry soap used for pre-treating clothing stains and as a home remedy for poison ivy and other skin irritants. Fels-Naptha is manufactured by and is a trademark of the Dial Corporation, a subsidiary of Henkel.

The soap was originally created around 1893 by Fels and Company and was the first soap to include naphtha (ah! There’s the spelling!). Naphtha made the soap effective for cleaning laundry and removing the allergen urushiol in poison ivy, but it was removed from the soap as a cancer risk.

(Naphtha is a flammable liquid hydrocarbon mixture.)

[13] Reference:

“…and here I am poor as a bowl of yak-me.”

(p.26)

.

User chyrs_chloe asked about this on WordReference.com Language Forums on September 30, 2019. The consensus seems to be that yak-me is referring to Yakamein soup, but there’s confusion about why you would say something was “as poor” as it. Possibly, the soup was simple/cheap to make?

Yaka mein is a type of beef noodle soup found in many Creole restaurants in New Orleans. It is also a type of Chinese wheat noodle. The soup consists of stewed beef (such as brisket) in beef-based broth served on top of noodles and garnished with half a hard-boiled egg and chopped green onions. Cajun or Creole seasoning and chili powder are often added to the broth. It is sometimes referred to as “Old Sober,” as it is commonly prescribed by New Orleans locals as a cure for hangovers.

[14] References:

There is an abandoned store on the southeast corner of Broadway and Thirty-fifth Street in Lorain, Ohio.

(p.33)

.

Lorain is a city in Lorain County, Ohio. The municipality is located in northeastern Ohio on Lake Erie, at the mouth of the Black River, about 30 miles west of Cleveland. As of the 2020 census, the city had a population of 65,211, making it Ohio’s tenth-largest city.

Toni Morrison was born and raised in Lorain.

[15]

There was a living room, which the family called the front room, and the bedroom, where all the living was done.

(p.34-35)

[16]

Mrs. Breedlove was not interested in Christ the Redeemer, but rather Christ the Judge.

(p.42)

[17] Slang?

Hunkie women in black babushkas go into the fields with baskets to pull [dandelions] up.

(p.47)

.

Oh, this is one we don’t really need to know, but to be thorough:

Hunky (also spelled hunkie) is an ethnic slur used in the United States to refer to immigrants from Central Europe. It originated in the coal regions of Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

[18]

How can a fifty-two-year-old white immigrant storekeeper with the taste of potatoes and beer in his mouth, his mind honed on the doe-eyed Virgin Mary, his sensibilities blunted by a permanent awareness of loss, see a little black girl? Nothing in his life even suggested that the feat was possible, not to say desirable or necessary.

(p.48)

[19]

Anger is better. There is a sense of being in anger. A reality and presence. An awareness of worth.

(p.50)

[20] Reference/Slang:

“You know all those klinker-tops you see runnin’ up here?”

(p.55)

.

Gah, I apologize. From Green’s Dictionary of Slang:

(US black) a person with tightly curled ‘nappy’ hair.

[21] Reference:

Three merry harridans.

(p.55)

.

A strict, bossy, or belligerent old woman.

[22]

They were not young girls in whore’s clothing, or whores regretting their loss of innocence. They were whores in whore’s clothing, whores who had never been young and had no word for innocence.

(p.57)


Winter

[23] Reference:

“Pecola? Wasn’t that the name of the girl in Imitation of Life?”

(p.67)

.

There have been two film versions of Imitation of Life, but the one referred to here would be the 1934 one, directed by John M. Stahl. The screenplay by William Hurlbut was based on Fannie Hurst’s novel of the same name. The character in the story is named Peola, not Pecola, so Maureen is not quite correct. The character of Peola is a Black woman who passes as white, marries a white man, and rejects her Black background.

Fredi Washington (1903 – 1994) played the 19-year-old Peola in the 1934 film; she was an American stage and film actress of African American descent. She was one of the first people of color to gain recognition for film and stage work in the 1920s and 1930s. Dorothy Black (1899 – 1985) played the younger version of Peola. Black was a South African-British actress.

[24] Reference:

“There’s an Isaley’s [sic]. Want some ice cream?”

(p.68)

.

Isaly’s was a chain of family-owned dairies and restaurants started in Mansfield (Richland County), Ohio, with locations throughout the American Midwest from the early 20th century until the 1970s. It is known today for its iconic chipped chopped ham and for creating the famous Klondike Bar ice cream treat. The company was founded by William Isaly.

Their website can be found here.

[25] Reference:

We got three Powerhouse bars for ten cents.

(p.76)

.

From MeTV’s article “17 bygone candy bars you will never eat again” posted on April 6, 2016 by MeTV staff:

    1. PowerHouse

Four heaping ounces of “Caramel – Peanuts – Fudge.” BOOM. To put that in perspective, a full size Snickers bar is now 1.86 oz.

[26] References:

Rooster combs and sunflowers grow in the yards, and pots of bleeding heard, ivy, and mother-in-law tongue line the steps and windowsills.

(p.82)

.

Celosia is a small genus of edible and ornamental plants in the amaranth family, Amaranthaceae. Species are commonly known as woolflowers, or, if the flower heads are crested by fasciation, cockscombs. The plants are well known in East Africa’s highlands and are used under their Swahili name, mfungu. In Spain it is known as “Rooster comb” because of its appearance.

Dracaena trifasciata is a species of flowering plant in the family Asparagaceae, native to tropical West Africa from Nigeria east to the Congo. It is most commonly known as the snake plant, Saint George’s sword, mother-in-law’s tongue, and viper’s bowstring hemp, among other names. It is an evergreen perennial plant forming dense strands, spreading by way of its creeping rhizome, which is sometimes above ground, sometimes underground. Mature leaves are dark green with light gray-green cross-banding and usually range from 2.3 – 3.0 feet long and 2.0 – 2.4 inches wide, though it can reach heights above 6 feet in optimal conditions.

[27] References:

They wash themselves with orange-colored Lifebuoy soap, dust themselves with Cashmere Bouquet talc. (…) They straighten their hair with Dixie Peach.

(p.82)

.

Lifebuoy is a brand of soap marketed by Unilever. Lifebuoy was originally, and for much of its history, a carbolic soap containing phenol (carbolic acid, a compound extracted from coal tar). The soaps manufactured today under the Lifebuoy brand do not contain phenol. It was introduced in 1895.

From BrandlandUSA’s article “History of Colgate’s Cashmere Bouquet” by Garland Pollard, posted on December 10, 2008:

Editors note from 2021: The most recent news is that the soap is no longer in production.

(…) Cashere Bouquet, a soap that dates to 1872, and for the whole time, has been made by another Uber-brand, Colgate-Palmolive. (…)

The 1872 introduction of Cashmere Bouquet marked the first milled perfumed toilet soap. (…) Today, it is a hotel soap brand, as well as sold at discount closeout stores.

Dixie Peach Hair Pomade was popular with teenage boys in the U.S. from World War II through the 1960s.

[28] Reference:

Porch swings and pots of bleeding heart.

(p.83)

.

Lamprocapnos spectabilis, bleeding heart, fallopian buds or Asian bleeding-heart, is a species of flowering plant native to Siberia, northern China, Korea and Japan. It is valued in gardens and in floristry for its heart-shaped pink and white flowers, borne in spring.

[29] Reference:

As she sits reading the “Uplifting Thoughts” in The Liberty Magazine.

(p.85)

.

Liberty was an American weekly, general-interest magazine originally priced at five cents and subtitled, “A Weekly for Everybody.” It was launched in 1924 by McCormick-Patterson, the publisher until 1931, when it was taken over by Bernarr Macfadden until 1941. It featured contributions from some of the biggest politicians, celebrities, authors, and artists of the 20th century. The contents of the magazine provide a unique look into popular culture, politics, and world events through the Roaring Twenties, Great Depression, World War II, and postwar America. It ceased publication in 1950 and was revived briefly in 1971.


Spring

[30] Reference:

We reached Lake Shore Park.

(p.105)

.

I’m not sure if this was renamed? It seems like the oldest lakeside park in Lorain is currently known as Lakeview Park.

Lakeview Park was established in 1917 under Mayor Leonard M. Moore as a way of providing more publicly-accessible space on the lakefront. The park features a beach, rose garden, various recreational facilities, bathhouse, concession stand, several gazebos and picnic shelters, and lawn bowling. The rose garden was dedicated in 1932, and has 2,500 roses in 48 beds.

[31] References:

“China gone take me to Cleveland to see the square, and Poland gone take me to Chicago to see the Loop.”

(p.107)

.

From Clevelandpublicsquare.com’s about us page:

Cleveland’s Public Square is a city of Cleveland park located in the heart of downtown Cleveland that is managed by The Group Plan Commission. (…)

Cleveland’s Public Square was designed with people in mind. The newly renovated park features a singular layout along with other great features like Rebol café, a water fountain, an ice rink, a lush lawn with a natural amphitheater, the KeyBank walking promenade, a speakers terrace, and much more.

The Loop, one of Chicago’s 77 designated community areas, is the central business district of the city and is the main section of Downtown Chicago. Home to Chicago’s commercial core, it is the second largest commercial business district in North America and contains the headquarters and regional offices of several global and national businesses, retail establishments, restaurants, hotels, and theaters, as well as many of Chicago’s most famous attractions.

[32] Vocabulary/Slang?

“Northern colored folk was different too. Dicty-like.”

(p.117)

.

Dictionary.com says that dicty (or dickty) is slang for high-class or stylish; snobbish or haughty.

Urban Dictionary has an entry for “dictie” defining it as “A black person who acts white. This term was coined during the age of speakeasies and juke-jives. Often the dictie is mulatto and upperclass.”

[33]

Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another – physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion.

(p.122)

[34] References:

She (…) served on Stewardess Board No. 3, and became a member of Ladies Circle No. 1.

(p.126)

.

In Methodism, a steward is a member of a local congregation who is appointed by their minister (elder), or elected by the congregation, to help in the practical life of the church. The position of stewards is a hallmark of classic Methodism.

Their duties include greeting all those who attend church upon their arrival, assisting in the distribution of Holy Communion (in which they are known as communion stewards), counting the tithes and offerings given to the church, and ensuring that the local preacher is cared for when he arrives to preach at a church.

(I’m assuming women in this role are known as stewardesses?)

Ladies’ Circle is a social networking organization for young women aged between 18 and 45, founded in 1932. It aims to promote friendship through social contract at local, national and international levels and to be of service to the community. For many years Circlers were the wives or partners of members of Round Table, but in 1993 the rules were changed and Ladies’ Circle is now open to any woman in the age range 18 – 45, and whilst Ladies’ Circle work very closely with Round Table on many issues, both business and social, they are a totally independent organization.

[35]

Cholly was grateful for having been saved. Except sometimes.

(p.132)

[36] Reference:

When she wore the asafetida bag around her neck.

(p.132)

.

Asafoetida (also spelled asafetida) is the dried latex (gum oleoresin) exuded from the rhizome or tap root of several species of Ferula, perennial herbs growing 3 to 5 feet tall. They are part of the celery family. The species are native to the deserts of Iran and mountains of Afghanistan where substantial amounts are grown.

Asafoetida has a pungent smell, as reflected in its name, lending it the trivial name of “stinking gum.” The odor dissipates upon cooking; in cooked dishes, it delivers a smooth flavor reminiscent of leeks or other onion relatives.

[37] Reference:

“Drink pot liquor and nothing else.”

(p.137)

.

Pot liquor, sometimes spelled potlikker or pot likker is the liquid that is left behind after boiling greens (collard greens, mustard greens, tulip greens) or beans. It is sometimes seasoned with salt and pepper, smoked port or smoked turkey. Pot liquor contains high amounts of essential vitamins and minerals including iron, vitamin A and vitamin C. Especially important is that it contains high amounts of vitamin K, which aids in blood clotting. Another term in collar liquor.

The practice of consuming potlikker was commonly employed by enslaved people in the United States to concentrate nutrients from vegetables.

[38] Vocabulary:

There was the omnipresence of the deity, strophe and antistrophe of the chorus of mourners led by the preacher.

(p.143)

.

A strophe is a poetic term originally referring to the first part of the ode in Ancient Greek tragedy, followed by the antistrophe and epode. The term has been extended to also mean a structural division of a poem containing stanzas of varying line length. Strophic poetry is to be contrasted with poems composed line-by-line stanzaically, such as Greek epic poems or English blank verse, to which the term stichic applies.

Antistrophe (“a turning back”) is the portion of an ode sung by the chorus in its returning movement from west to east, in response to the strophe, which was sung from east to west.

[39] Reference:

A wild graveyard where the muscadine grew.

(p.145)

.

Vitis rotundifolia, or muscadine, is a grapevine species native to the southeastern and south-central United States. It has been extensively cultivated since the 16th century. Muscadine berries may be bronze or dark purple or black when ripe. Wild varieties may stay green through maturity. Muscadines are typically used in making artisan wines, juice, and jelly. They are rich sources of polyphenols.

[40]

It seemed to him that lonely was much better than alone.

(p.151)

[41] Reference:

He (…) saw the Ocmulgee River winding ahead.

(p.157)

.

The Ocmulgee River is a western tributary of the Altamaha River, approximately 255 miles long, in the U.S. state of Georgia. It was formerly known by its Hitchiti name of Ocheese Creek, from which the Creek (Muscogee) people derived their name.

[42]

The pieces of Cholly’s life could become coherent only in the head of a musician.

(p.159)

[43]

How dare she love him? Hadn’t she any sense at all? What was he supposed to do about that? Return it? How?

(p.161)

[44]

It was as though his disdain for human contact had converted itself into a craving for things humans had touched. The residue of the human spirit smeared on inanimate objects was all he could withstand of humanity.

(p.165)

[45] Reference:

Hoping to prove beyond a doubt De Gobineau’s hypothesis that “all civilization derive from the white race, that none can exist without its help (…).”

(p.168)

.

Arthur de Gobineau (1816 – 1882) was a French aristocrat who is best known for helping to legitimize racism by the use of scientific racist theory and “racial demography,” and for developing the theory of the Aryan master race. Known to his contemporaries as a novelist, diplomat and travel writer, he was an elitist.

[46]

He read greedily but understood selectively.

(p.169)

[47] Reference:

He noticed Gibbon’s acidity, but not his tolerance.

(p.169)

.

Edward Gibbon (1737 – 1794) was an English historian, writer, and member of parliament. His most important work, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, published in six volumes between 1776 and 1788, is known for the quality and irony of its prose, its use of primary sources, and its polemical criticism, that is polemics, of organized religion.

[48] References:

Not the Windward or Leeward Island colonies, mark you.

(p.177)

.

The Windward Islands are the southern, generally larger islands of the Lesser Antilles. The name was also used to refer to a British colony which existed between 1833 and 1960 and originally consisted of the islands of Granada, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent. Today these islands constitute three sovereign states, with the latter now known as Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Leeward Islands are a group of islands situated where the northeastern Caribbean Sea meets the western Atlantic Ocean. Starting with the Virgin Islands east of Puerto Rico, they extend southeast to Guadeloupe and its dependencies.

[49]

That, heavenly, heavenly Father, was how she left me; or rather, she never left me, because she was never ever there.

(p.178)

[50] References:

A powder blue grosgrain ribbon (…); two marbles he had found under a bench in Morningside Park on a very fine spring day; an old Lucky Hart catalog (…), and lemon vanishing cream.

(p.183)

.

Grosgrain (GROH-grayn) is a type of fabric or ribbon defined by the fact that its weft is heavier than its warp, creating prominent transverse ribs. It is often used for ribbon.

I’m not sure which Morningside Park is being referenced here.

From Lucky Heart’s website’s “Our Story”:

Lucky Heart Cosmetics was founded in 1935 in Memphis, TN as a beauty and cosmetics company for African Americans. We specialized in manufacturing hair and skin products specifically for African American clients in the mid-south. We have been a locally owned and operated business here in Memphis since the beginning, and all our products are made in America and cruelty-free.


Summer

[51] Reference:

I (…) imagine a summer my mother knew in 1929. There was a tornado that year, she said, that blew away half of south Lorain.

(p.187)

.

I think the tornado referred to is the 1924 Lorain-Sandusky tornado:

A deadly F4 tornado which struck the towns of Sandusky and Lorain, Ohio on Saturday, June 28, 1924. At least 85 people were killed by the tornado, with others killed by tornadoes that struck the northern and eastern half of the state. It is the deadliest single tornado and tornado outbreak ever recorded in Ohio history, killing more people than the more well-known 1974 Xenia tornado during the 1974 Super Outbreak and the 1985 United States-Canadian tornado outbreak respectively.

Seventy-two of the deaths were in Lorain and 15 of those deaths were inside a theater, making it the worst tornado-related death toll from a single building in Ohio. Over 500 homes were destroyed and 1000 others were damaged in the Lorain area as well as every business in the downtown area.

[52] Reference:

The seasons of a Midwestern town became the Moirai of our small lives.

(p.188)

.

In ancient Greek religion and mythology, the Moirai, also spelled Moirae, often known in English as the Fates, were the incarnations of destiny; their Roman equivalent was the Parcae (euphemistically the “sparing ones”), and there are other equivalents in cultures that descend from the Proto-Indo-European culture. Their number became fixed at three: Clotho (“spinner”), Lachesis (“allotter”) and Atropos (“the unturnable,” a metaphor for death).

[53]

She, however, stepped over into madness, a madness which protected her from us simply because it bored us in the end.

(p.206)


I’m guessing a lot of people who find this post have read The Bluest Eye many times and I apologize for being dense enough to miss it for this long. I’m interested in your thoughts about the characters and content and what age you were when you first read it and how you felt at that time.

If you’ve never read the book and been on the fence, please give it a try. It was such an amazing reading experience and this story will stay with me for a long time. A couple of things that may help you figure out where I’m coming from and if you might like The Bluest Eye:

-I read To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time as an adult and could hardly get through it. I thought it was outdated, offensive, unlikeable and clunky.

-I love Carson McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

I’ve already picked up Beloved from the library, so I’m hoping to review more Toni Morrison soon. If you have favorites of hers, please recommend so I know where to go next!

Next Thursday, the 2021 novella by Hanna Bervoets (translated by Emma Rault): We Had to Remove This Post.

One thought on ““The Bluest Eye”

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