Celebrating Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye: Blogger’s Roundtable 2010

“Nobody was going to tell me that it had been that easy. That all I needed was a slogan: “Black is Beautiful.” It wasn’t that easy being a little black girl in this country – it was rough. The psychological tricks you have to play in order to get through – and nobody said how it felt to be that. And you knew better. You knew better inside. You knew you were not the person they were looking at. And to know that and to see what you saw in those other people’s eyes was devastating. Some people made it, some didn’t. And I wanted to explore it myself.” ~ Toni Morrison (1985)

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At the Roundtable:

The Bottom of Heaven: “Survivor’s Guilt: Claudia and The Bluest Eye”
WriteBlack: “On the literary descendants of The Bluest Eye”
Color Online (and THNP): “A Closer Look at Cholly Breedlove”
Xavier Passvant: “Human Rights and The Bluest Eye’s Global Reach”
Zetta Elliott: “The Bluest Eye and the Legacy of Colorism”
Evelyn N. Alfred: “Claudia’s Poetry Notebook: Celebrating The Bluest Eye”
Cold Spaghetti: “Poverty, Invisibility, and Dignity: Thoughts on 40 Years of The Bluest Eye”

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TBoH is pleased to host a celebration* of the 40th anniversary of Toni Morrison’s first novel,The Bluest Eye, from June 28-July 9. Over the next two weeks, we hope you will engage the fine group of bloggers listed above in an ongoing conversation about this story, a wrenching parable of race, beauty, and self-worth in America that Morrison published in the summer of 1970 as the Civil Rights Movement was being eclipsed by the fire and exuberance of black nationalist pride. (See an original ad for the novel below.)

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Is The Bluest Eye still relevant after four decades, does it still have something left to teach us in the Obama era? What moments in the story continue to touch and trouble you as you read? What scenes, characters, and passages have the most lasting impact? How would a little girl like Pecola fare in today’s society? We’d love to heard your thoughts on our posts and if you haven’t read the novel, perhaps now is a good time to start.

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*While the term “celebration” here is obviously meant to suggest praise, it doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t be afraid to be critical and put forth dissenting opinions!

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9 responses to this post.

  1. “And fantasy it was, for we were not strong, only aggressive; we were not free, merely licensed; we were not compassionate, we were polite; not good, but well behaved. We courted death in order to cal ourselves brave, and hid like thieves from life. We substituted good grammar for intellect; we switched habits to simulate maturity; we rearranged lies and called it truth, seeing in the new pattern of an old idea the Revelation and the Word.” – The Bluest Eye

    This paragraph is like a poem to me… it’s lyrical and poignant. I love these words so much.

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    • Hi Camille, thanks for stopping by! Those last pages of the novel really pack a punch. I’ll have more to say about Claudia on Monday, but it is passages like this one that really take this story to another, more complex level I think. It makes it hard to just see this as the story of just one lonely girl, right?

      Reply

  2. Hi Claudia,

    I totally agree! It would be a huge disservice to say The Bluest Eye is simply a story of one lonely girl suffering from low self-esteem. What about the other wonderful (if not disturbing at times) characters? What about their relationships to each other? What about their experiences which made them behave that way? Sigh. It’s such a complex story and I love it so.

    I’ll be checking back Monday for future posts!

    Reply

  3. [...] continuing series celebrating the 40th anniversary of Toni Morrison’s novel, The Bluest Eye. See a complete list of participating bloggers at The Bottom of [...]

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  4. [...] you stopped by The Bottom of Heaven lately?  Claudia has posted the first in a series of reflections on Toni Morrison’s The [...]

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  5. [...] Eye – Happy Anniversary Claudia from The Bottom of Heaven asked if I wanted to participate in Blogger's roundtable for Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, to celebrate its 40 anniversary. There was only one answer I [...]

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  6. I finally finished my post, it’s set to publish July 7th at 7am.

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  7. Posted by Ariel Jones on July 12, 2010 at 3:31 PM

    One thing that I’m really curious about is the Black Male aspect in The Bluest Eye. i.e. Cholly. When he was caught by flashlight, his anger and hatred was directed towards the young lady. He was helpless and he could not protect her, yet he still hated her?
    I can’t help but think that this faintly addresses a big problem in the black community that there are some black men that do NOT protect their women. I also can’t help to think that the whole “B****es and H**s” problem stems from the long history of Black men being largely unable to protect Black women’s virtue and sexuality as White men are able to. I must admit that I believe over all self-esteem issues prevailing Black men and women have roots in that issue.
    That may be kind of far fetched, but it was one piece that I took away from reading the novel.

    Reply

    • Hi Ariel, thanks for stopping by and leaving this excellent comment. That chilling moment – and Cholly’s hate – makes me think a lot about what Zora Neale Hurston wrote in Their Eyes Were Watching God about the way black women have historically been treated as the “mule of the world,” mistreated by both racists whites and powerless black men. And this most certainly has implications today. I do hope that you will take a look at Doret’s post on Cholly and leave your thoughts there as well: “A Closer Look at Cholly Breedlove.”

      Reply

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