The Bluest Eye | Study Guide

Toni Morrison

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The Bluest Eye | Foreword | Summary



In the foreword Morrison expresses her goal for the book: to explore what happens when a person accepts "rejection as legitimate, as self-evident." Morrison describes an incident in her own childhood when a friend wished for blue eyes. The idea horrified Morrison. She writes, "Implicit in her desire was racial self-loathing." Morrison's other goal was to express "black culture" in language.


The foreword was not originally included in the book: Morrison wrote it in 1993. In it Morrison describes the book's central premise: how an African American person could develop "self-loathing" as a result of growing up in a white-dominated society. She also explores what such self-loathing might do to a person.

Morrison says little about her friend who wished for blue eyes. Pecola comes from a "crippled and crippling family." Morrison comments on the difference between the Breedloves and an "average black family" such as the MacTeers (the narrator's family). Morrison is aware of Pecola's frailty and chooses Claudia to serve as the narrator. However, Pecola remains the focus of the story.

Morrison's self-stated goal to express "black culture" in language is useful for a reader to remember. Certain sections—Mama MacTeer's conversations with her friends in "Autumn" and Pauline Breedlove's italicized sections in her chapter, for example—all give voice to African Americans. In an early chapter Claudia, the "average" girl narrator, talks about how she prefers authentic African American experiences with her family to the false pleasures of a white doll. In the same way, Morrison wants authentic African American voices in her novel, voices that celebrate the rich dialects of the South and the African American community.

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