Monday, February 6, 2012

Book Review - The Bluest Eye

Title: The Bluest Eye.
Author: Toni Morrison.
Publisher: Plume / Penguin Book.
Format: Paperback.
Pages: 224.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction.

So this post is a review of the book 'The Bluest Eye' by Toni Morrison. This book was written in 1970 & had won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. All the more reasons for me to grab the book and read, especially since I am trying to expand my reading boundaries.


My Thoughts:
The obvious reason why I chose to read this book was because of the fact that this was a Nobel Prize winner. I had read great reviews about this book in O, The Oprah Magazine which left me intrigued. On a side note, I could brag about reading some serious fiction.** smug smile**
So..about the book, one word to describe it: Heart wrenching!
I found this book a difficult read. Many a times I would read a few pages and then I would get distracted, which almost led me to sheer exasperation! The book itself is a compact sized one and it frustrated me to no end since I couldn't make the pages turn.
This book deals with delicate matters like racial discrimination, white supremacy, poverty, rape, beauty& incest.
The Bluest Eye is about a 11year old black girl named Pecola Breedlove (a peculiar name indeed, for the protagonist!) who is ugly and she is quite aware of it &who yearns to have blue eyes so that she can feel visible in a society where there are more pressing grievances. Pecola is usually the victim of bullying by the boys from her class,the reason being ugly. The book describes scenarios wherein the children with 'yellow skin' and blue eyes are treated in a completely different manner alien to Pecola and her friends (Claudia& Frieda) When a 'yellow skin' Maureen Peel is enrolled in their school, Claudia and Frieda experience bouts of jealousy, since 'the teachers smile at her enchantingly' & 'the boys don't bully her'
Pecola comes from a broken family, an alcoholic father, a mother who almost fantasies living a 'white' life by working as a maid in a white family and a brother who is a run away. Domestic violence is considered habitual.
I found it especially perplexing since the book would discuss about a certain character and suddenly we are reading about a totally different character. The book starts off with the given below haunting statement.

'Quiet as it's kept,there were no marigolds in the fall of 1941.We thought,at that time it was because Pecola was having her father's baby that the marigolds did not grow'

 The book, is described in most parts, by Claudia, friend of Pecola with the innocence of a small black girl.
What I understood was ,the author tries to reveal the reason behind Pecola's unspeakable fate. The book progresses to portray the childhood of Pecola's father(Cholly Breedlove). In this manner we get an insight of why he had turned into an alcoholic and who in a drunken state of mind rapes his own offspring. The book describes how the father felt the love and repulsion towards his own child and and expresses, in the most horrifying manner possible!
Pauline Breedlove, Pecola's mother who had high hopes for a beautiful life ahead after wedlock finds herself in a life of mediocrity raising two children and bearing a drunk abusive husband. Her only respite was her job as a maid. The book depicts how she enjoys working for the white family. Its her modus operandi to disengage herself from the harsh reality. 
Pecola's father flees after raping his daughter leaving her pregnant. Pecola's baby is born premature and dies. The innocence is almost heart breaking when Claudia and Frieda decide to give up the money they had been saving to sow marigold seeds hoping that if the marigold blooms then the baby would survive. However neither happens.
Many a time I felt like I was reading poetry.
The book left me depressed. Probably I would look at this book with a whole different perspective 10 years down the lane. Probably then, my rating would change as well.

My rating:

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