Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye Essay

2852 words - 11 pages

Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye

Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye provides social commentary on a lesser known portion of black society in America. The protagonist Pecola is a young black girl who desperately wants to feel beautiful and gain the “bluest eyes” as the title references. The book seeks to define beauty and love in this twisted perverse society, dragging the reader through Morrison’s emotional manipulations. Her father Cholly Breedlove steals the reader’s emotional attention from Pecola as he enters the story. In fact, Toni Morrison’s depiction of Cholly wrongfully evokes sympathy from the reader.

The sympathy for Cholly evoked in The Bluest Eye from the reader is not deserved. By definition, sympathy means feeling pity or sorrow for the distress of another, or compassion. The skillfulness of the author manipulates the reader into feeling a certain way towards particular characters. Sympathy for characters – Cholly being no exception – derives from an author’s ability to use words and the construction of the story to lead a reader into a certain emotional direction. The reader is the prime reason the author constructs a story. Because all authors are completely aware that an audience exists for their stories, authors are, in turn, completely aware that their words can manipulate their readers. It is this awareness that allows all sentence structures and idea portrayal to be the product of an author’s manipulation. Because there exists an audience, there exists someone to persuade or influence. Thus, an author, like Morrison, builds a textual relationship between the characters in her story and that of the reader digesting her story. Morrison, like all authors, understands that the reader searches for an emotional direction in which to follow in the interpretation of characters. The very nature of writing and language consists of the choice by the author to convey her ideas and guide the reactions of her reader in the text.

Morrison deemphasizes Cholly’s horrific actions and emphasizes his victimizations. To remove the emphasis from certain aspects of a story includes words with less harsh connotations, omission of certain points in a plot, and concentration on other parts of the story. Cholly commits horrible actions throughout the book including the rape of his daughter, the beating his wife, burning of his family’s house, the murder of three men, Pecola’s guilty feelings, drunken episodes, and his abandonment of family. All of these terrible actions are overshadowed by other episodes.

Through Morrison’s use of short, off-hand descriptions of events, certain horrible acts appear to be less than horrible, if not acceptable. The reader learns that Cholly murdered a few men in an explanatory clause at the end of a meaningless sentence. The Bluest Eye describes Cholly as being completely free as to say “No” to a jailor and then “…smile, for he had already killed three white men,” as if this seizure...

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