The Bluest Eye
is a 1970 novel by Toni Morrison
that explores the relationship between beauty and race. The story is about a year in the life of Pecola, a young black girl in Lorain, Ohio. It takes place against the backdrop of America's Midwest as well as in the years following the Great Depression. Realizing that darker-skinned black people are treated worse than lighter-skinned black people, who more closely fit Caucasian standards of beauty, Pecola comes to believe that if she had blue eyes, she would escape race-based oppression.
Provides examples of:
- Beauty Equals Goodness: Deconstructed. Most of the characters subscribe to this belief, which is extremely damaging to those who are unlucky enough to be labelled "ugly," especially since they're all being judged using Caucasian standards of beauty.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: The Breedloves.
- Break the Cutie: Pecola.
- But Not Too Black: Many of the characters subscribe to this, treating mixed-race people more humanely than "blacker" people.
- Butt Monkey: If something humiliating and depressing can happen to Pecola, it will.
- Crapsack World: especially if you're black.
- Downer Ending
- Driven to Madness: Pecola
- Foregone Conclusion: The narrator spoils the Downer Ending on the third page of the novel.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Deconstructed. Both black and white characters alike tend to privilege blonde-haired children above the dark-haired protagonists, which is a source of great ire and confusion for Claudia.
- Innocent Inaccurate: Whenever Claudia narrates.
- Kids Are Cruel: Junior, and the gang of boys who bully Pecola.
- Meaningful Name: Considering what happens to her, Pecola's family name is the cruelly ironic Breedlove.
- Parental Abandonment: Cholly's parents both abandoned him, and he ended up being raised by his great-aunt.
- Parental Incest: Cholly rapes his daughter, Pecola.
- The Power of Love: Subverted.
- Claudia's closing narration observes that "love is never any better than the lover," so violent/screwed-up/weak/wicked people will love in violent/screwed-up/weak/wicked ways.
- Rape as Drama
- Shout-Out: To Shirley Temple and Raggedy Ann and Andy. Also, Vulcans are brought up. Presumably, not THOSE Vulcans, though.
- Start of Darkness: Several chapters are devoted to the backstory of Cholly and Mrs. Breedlove, showing how they got to be so screwed up.
- Through the Eyes of Madness: The chapter that Pecola narrates.
- Tragic Dream: Pecola's dream of having blue eyes.