Toni Morrison found solace in a small group of writers who met informally to discuss their work. It was in this setting that she began a short story about a little black girl who wanted blue eyes. This short story would eventually turn into a novel. Morrison published The Bluest Eye in 1970.
Everywhere you turn, you’re reminded that you’re less than; you’re ugly; you don’t matter. Your existence is the opposite of everything’s that’s valued in the world. Not even your mother cherishes you. Even your friends equate you to a “plot of black dirt.” Why does everyone reject and despise you? It’s because your skin is black. This is the story of Pecola Breedlove, the subject of Toni Morrison’s book, The Bluest Eye.
If the fictional character, Pecola Breedlove, was to ask “Why?,” she may get an answer like the one above, but I doubt it. Her very existence is treated like an abomination, for she is the lowest of the low — a poor child, a female, with skin and eyes so dark that even her family rejects her. Such an inferior being probably wouldn’t be worth the breath to respond. Pecola is the reason everyone should read Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. She is the voice of the underdog, the underrepresented and the one you’ll likely never hear in real life and that’s why it’s important to read her story and her longing for a pair of the bluest eyes.
I can’t say that I loved the book. It’s sad. Pecola is much like the character of Precious in Push in that every possible thing that you can imagine weighs heavy on her shoulders. Both are ugly, they’re poor, they’re female and they’re less than. They’re abused, they’re pitied and their journey is a difficult one. But it is through their trials and their experience at the bottom that the rest of us can gain an understanding of what it means to not have any value. Thankfully, most of us will never understand this. However, it’s important to gather a glimpse of what it is like at the bottom, so we’re careful to never overlook those whose circumstances are tougher than our own.
“All of us — all who knew her — felt so wholesome after we cleaned ourselves on her. We were so beautiful when we stood astride her ugliness. Her simplicity decorated us, her guilt sanctified us, her pain made us glow with health, her awkwardness made us think we had a sense of humor. Her inarticulateness made us believe we were eloquent. Her poverty kept us generous. Even her waking dreams we used–to silence our own nightmares. And she let us, and thereby deserved our contempt. We honed our egos on her, padded our characters with her frailty, and yawned in the fantasy of our strength…”
BTW: The Nobel Prize in Literature for 1993 was awarded to Toni Morrison “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.”