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ENG256: American Literature Post Civil War to Present (Geary): The Bluest Eye

About The Bluest Eye

Cover of The Bluest Eye

"This work established Toni Morrison as a serious and important American novelist. Set in 1941 in a world that values blue-eyed, blonde little girls, the novel asks what chance an African-American child has of achieving her dreams. Eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove looks out the windows of her old, cold apartment and longs for beautiful things—a world where flowers grow and the grass is green. Meanwhile, Pecola's mother, Mrs. Breedlove, and father, Cholly Breedlove, fight all the time. Her father drinks as well, and her brother, Sammy, runs away from home. As Pecola dreams of a more beautiful life, her longing turns to a desire for blue eyes. Little white girls with blonde hair have blue eyes. Perhaps if Pecola had blue eyes, she thinks, her world would be beautiful, too. Perhaps her father would stop drinking, and her parents would stop fighting. If only she could be more attractive then maybe someone would look at her and love her."

Excerpt from Characters in Young Adult Literature (1997)

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About Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison

"Toni Morrison became a novelist for the ages when she was awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize for literature. Only the eighth woman and the first black to win the prize, Morrison expressed surprise and delight at receiving the honor and displayed an impetuous generosity:

"I was thrilled that my mother is still alive and can share this with me. And I can claim representation in so many areas, I'm a midwesterner, and everyone in Ohio is excited. I'm also a New Yorker, and a New Jerseyan, and an American, plus I'm an African-American, and a woman. I know it seems like I'm spreading like algae when I pout it this way, but I'd like to think of the prize being distributed to these regions and nations and races."

Morrison's image of herself as a literary organism whose creative force is fed by all that has encompassed her is reflected in her fiction, a combination of prose and poetry so lyrical and evocative that it often transcends the narrative of African Americans that she presents, exhorting all her readers to share in and accept responsibility for the creative act they are witnessing."

Excerpt from American Novelists Since World War II: Third Series (1994), by Denise Heinze.

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