Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Dangerously Reading v. 2
This month's selection was Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye. I was nervous to pick up the book as I had tried it before and didn't enjoy the experience. And the book started off a bit slow this time as well. But by 50 pages in, I was hooked and chiding myself for not reading it earlier. It is a beautiful but sad story filled with sharp social critique. The book narrates the story of Pecola, a poor, African-American, girl who suffers abuse at the hands of her father and (white) society. She prays for beauty and attention.

"Each night Pecola prayed for blue eyes. In her eleven years, no one had ever noticed Pecola. But with blue eyes, she thought, everything would be different. She would be so pretty that her parents would stop fighting. Her father would stop drinking. Her brother would stop running away. If only she could be beautiful. If only people would look at her."

While Morrison doesn't identify as a "feminist" writer, her books certainly keep the plight of African American women at the center. As such, I would argue that she resists patriarchy, sexism and racism. At the very least, her very style is resistant to hegemonic literary rules. The plot, choice of narrator, and language are all examples of Morrison pushing the literary envelope. Her discussion of the impact of abuse, racism and patriarchy is pointed and necessary. While I know Morrison has received a lot of flack about her female characters, I found the self-loathing of the African American women and children in this book to be heartbreakingly accurate.

You have to be in the right mood for the book. To. Be. Sure. It is not a light and fluffy read. But it is a commendable work. My edition had an epilogue from Morrison at the end that was excellent. She talked about how the book was received in 1970 and her rationale behind the characters. She writes, "With very few exceptions, the initial publication of The Bluest Eye was like Pecola's life: dismissed, trivialized, mis-read. And it has taken twenty-five years to gain for her the respectful publication this edition is."

Labels: ,


Blogger Estella said...

Gorgeous review! I'm just now getting to the point where the book is really grabbing me (darn lack of free time). Morrison's writing is beautiful and just heartbreaking. Can't wait to read the rest and then re-read your review. :)


Post a Comment

<< Home