Although not considered autobiographical, The Bluest Eye recounts a painful coming of age in 1940’s Lorain, Ohio where Morrison herself grew up. Morrison provides backgrounds for each character allowing the reader to understand their sometimes deplorable, sometimes heroic, actions.
The book’s narrator, Claudia MacTeer, is an independent nine-year-old. She is sensitive to the behavior of others, and is especially aware of the different ways blacks and whites are treated.
Pecola Breedlove longs for blue eyes believing they will ensure she will be loved and respected by family, friends and strangers alike. Raped and impregnated by her father, doubted by her mother and bullied at school, her self-respect has all but disappeared so she begins to remove herself from reality in order to survive the travesties that continue to dog her.
Pauline “Polly” Breedlove is Pecola’s mother. She has a deformed foot that has made her feel inferior and she loses herself in movies. Working as a housekeeper for a white family, she treats their daughter better than her own feeding into Pecola’s feeling of worthlessness.
It’s been fun imaging my encounters with authors living and dead, but this is an instance where I have actually met the author. I attended a lecture in 2013 where Ms. Morrison spoke of her then recently published Home among a myriad of topics; her work in publishing and teaching, writing, politics and the ongoing divide between blacks and whites in America. I came away with an autographed book and a wish for more time with this renowned author.
My rating for The Bluest Eye is a 9 out of 10.
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Next up, Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist…