Essay on Toni Morrison

This essay has a total of 3072 words and 15 pages.

Toni Morrison


The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

THESIS: In the novel The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison incorporates various techniques in
The Bluest Eye, such as her use of metaphors, the ironic use of names and the visual
images that she uses.

I. Background information on Toni Morrison
A. Where she was born.
B. Where she attend college
C. Why she changed her name
D. When she got married
II. The Bluest Eye
A. Summary of The Bluest Eye
B. What is a theme?
1. The main theme of The Bluest Eye.
C. What is a Plot?
1. What is the plot of The Bluest Eye?
D. How Toni Morrison plays with the names in The Bluest Eye, so they are not what they seem to be.


1.The significance of Pecola's name
E. What are the two major metaphors used in The Bluest Eye?


Toni Morrison the first black woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, was born
Chloe Anthony Wofford on February 18, 1931 in Lorain, Ohio. She was the second of four
children to George and Ramah Wofford. Her parents moved to Ohio from the South to escape
racism and to find better opportunities in the North.

Lorain was a small industrial town populated with immigrant Europeans, Mexicans and
Southern blacks who lived next door to each other. Chloe attended an integrated school. In
the first grade she was the only black student in her class and the only one who could

Chloe attended the prestigious Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she majored in
English with a minor in classics. Since many people could not pronounce her name correctly
she changed it to Toni, a shortened version of her middle name. Toni Wofford graduated
Howard University in 1953 with a B.A. in English. She attended Cornell University in
Ithaca, New York, and received a master's degree in 1955.

After graduating, Toni was offered a job at Texas Southern University in Houston where she
taught introductory English. In 1957, she returned to Howard as a member of the faculty.
At Howard she met and fell in love with a young Jamaican architect, Harold Morrison. They
married in 1958 and had her first son in 1961. Toni continued to teach while taking care
of here family, she also joined a small writer's group as a temporary escape from an
unhappy married life.

Each member was required to bring a story or poem for discussion. One week, having nothing
to bring, she quickly wrote a story loosely based on a girl she knew in childhood who had
prayed to have blue eyes. The story was well received by the group. Toni put it away
thinking that she was done with it. When her sons where asleep, she started writing. She
dusted off the story in which she had written for discussion in her writers group and
decided to make it into a novel. She drew on her memories as a child and expanded on them
with her imagination so the characters developed a life of their own. The Bluest Eye was
published in 1970, too much critical acclaim, although it was not commercially successful.

The Bluest Eye is a novel of initiation set in Lorain, Ohio. Pecola Breedlove, a young
black girl, desperately wants blue eyes, thinking that they would make her beautiful. She
drinks several quarts of milk at the home of her friends Claudia and Frieda McTeer just to
use their Shirley Temple mug and glaze at young Temple's blue eyes. One day Pecola is
raped by her father, when the child the she conceives dies, Pecola goes mad. She comes to
believe that she has the bluest eyes of anyone.

In the novel, The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison incorporates various techniques, such as her
use of metaphors, the ironic use of names, and the visual images that she uses. The theme
of The Bluest Eye, revolves around African Americans' conformity to white standards. A
woman may whiten her skin, straighten her hair and change its color, but she can not
change the color of her eyes. The desire to transform one's identity, itself becomes an
inverted desire, becomes the desire for blues eye, which is the symptom of Pecola's

The Bluest Eye opens with a Dick and Jane paragraph, a white American Myth far removed
from the realities illustrated in the novel. Thereafter, the black narrator Claudia
MacTeer relates much of the story, and the reminder, which concerns events that Claudia
could not have witnessed, is narrated mostly by an unidentified voice. Claudia's narrative
reveals the guilt that for a long time plagued her and her sister in connection with
another girl's miscarriage. The girl, Pecola Breedlove, was pregnant with her own father's
child in the fall of 1941. Told by the different narrators, the understanding of events up
to her tragedy is organized according to the four seasons.

In the Autumn, the tense shifts form present to past, indicating shifts between the nine
year old Claudia and the adult Claudia acting as narrators. The story begins with the
arrival of Mr. Henry Washington, a border who will live with the MacTeers. At the same
time, Pecola Breedlove comes to live with the MacTeers. She has been "put outdoors" by her
father who has gone to jail and not paid the rent on the apartment. Frieda and Pecola talk
about how much they each love Shirley temple. Claudia rebels. She does not like Shirley
Temple nor the white dolls that she receives each Christmas with the big blue eyes. To the
dismay of the adults, she dismembers these dolls, trying to see if it was that all the
world said was lovable. The text shifts to the third person omniscient point of view and
gives the reader a brief of the inside of the Breedlove's two-room apartment. The whole
family shares one bedroom and there is no bath, only a toilet. At the same time the
Breedlove family is introduced. The family is described as ugly. Pecola's only refuge from
her life is with the three prostitutes who live upstairs and who treat her with affection
the only people who do so.

In the winter, Claudia and Frieda endure the gray Ohio winter until a disrupt of seasons,
a new girl named Maureen Peale, comes to school . She is lighter skinned than Claudia,
Frieda and Pecola, and her family is wealthy. Claudia and Frieda, both hate her and love
her. One day on the way home from school, the three girls encounter Pecola, who is being
teased by a group of boys. Frieda rescues her, and Maureen appears to befriend her.
However, Maureen soon turns on Pecola taunting her with her blackness and her ugliness.
The focus of the book shifts to a description of the "Mobile girls," women who attempt to
control and modify their blackness and her ugliness. In imitation of the dominant culture,
they straighten their hair, control their odors, and learn to behave in order to do the
white man's work.

In the spring, Mr. Washington, the border fondles Frieda's breasts, and Mr. MacTeer beats
him up and throws him out of the house. Later, Frieda and Claudia go and visit Pecola who
is at the Fisher's where Mrs. Breedlove works as a housekeeper. While the children are
there, Pecola spills a pan of hot blueberry cobbler all over herself, the dress of the
white girl, and the clean white floor. Mrs. Breedlove viciously abuses Pecola and comforts
the little white girl. In the next section, a third person omniscient narrator flashes
back to Pauline's young adulthood and her marriage. This narration only tells how Pauline
came to work as a servant, for the white rich family.

Also in the third person narration are sections of Pauline's voice in the first person.
She talks of her life with Cholly and why she stays with him in spite of his drunkenness
and abuse. The narration then shifts again, this time it is Cholly story. We read how his
mother abandoned him when he was just four days old. His Aunt Jimmy raised him until she
died when he was a young teen. After the funeral, he took a young girl into the woods and
had his first sexual experience. He and the girl were discovered by a group of white men
who force him to repeat the act for their entertainment. Cholly never forgets nor forgives
the humiliation. At the end of this chapter, Cholly returns to his home in Lorain, drunk,
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