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Book Review: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison


     The best part of this book was its structure.  I've never read a book whose structure served its message so perfectly. The narrative of Bluest Eye is built around Pecola Breedlove, a young African-American girl living in Ohio in the late '30s, early '40s.  The story is never told from Pecola's perspective, however.  It is told from the perspectives of the people around her who destroy her.  I won't say how she is destroyed or what these people do to her.  But I will say that they are ordinary people, neighbors and friends and family members, whose acts of racism eventually tear her apart. Many of these acts are not drastic or unusual, and their very ordinariness forces the reader to reflect on the effects of his or her own actions and prejudices.
      Morrison chose to write each chapter from the point of view of a different character.  Only one narrator, one of Pecola's friends, recurs in multiple chapters, and she also happens to be the only first-person narrator in the book.  The first person narration of a young girl forces the reader to see how racial self-hatred seeps into a child over time.  Another interesting structural choice is the inclusion of snippets of a Dick and Jane book at the beginning of each chapter.  Dick and Jane books were popular in classrooms during the period in which this book is set.  They were simply written and focused on the activities of a content white suburban family.  The snippets included in Bluest Eye provide an ironic contrast to Pecola's troubled family life.
     I could also tell you all about the beautiful writing style, the brilliant and sympathetic characterization, and emotional power Morrison employs in this book, but that would take way too long :P  Read it for yourself if you're curious!

     - Carly

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