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Book Detail

Bluest Eye, The

Bluest Eye, The Author Toni Morrison
Publisher Plume
ISBN 0452282195
Publication Year 1994
Reading Level 5.2
Main Character Age 11
Main Character is Human
Summary (Publisher"s Summary)
The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison's first novel, a book heralded for its richness of language and boldness of vision. Set in the author's girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America. In the autumn of 1941, the year the marigolds in the Breedloves' garden do not bloom, Pecola's life does change---in painful, devastating ways. With its vivid evocation of the fear and loneliness at the heart of a child's yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment, The Bluest Eye remains one of Toni Morrison's most powerful, unforgettable novels--and a significant work of American fiction.

Subject Matter Summaries

Summary Details For Positive Elements:

p.65-67 Chloe, Frieda, and one of their friends help a girl who is being bullied by some boys. p.189-191 Chloe and Frieda try to make a miracle for Pecola and her baby by planting the flower seeds they had intended to sell to make money to buy a bicycle.

Summary Details For Mature Subject Matter:

CONFLICT p.9 The narrator, a black child, mentions feeling jealous of a white girl. p.48 A white store owner "does not see her, because for him there is nothing to see." "See a little black girl? Nothing in his life even suggested that the feat was possible, not to say desirable or necessary." p.49 When the black girl offers her money to the store owner, "he hesitates, not wanting to touch her hand." p.63 The narrator is jealous of a new girl in school who is lighter than most of the other children. p.87 A black boy's mother only wants him to play with white children. p.92 "'Get out', she said, her voice quiet. 'You nasty little black b*tch. Get out of my house.'" p.105 "Black people were not allowed in the park, and so it filled our dreams." p.120 "Nasty white folks is about the nastiest things they is." p.124-126 A black woman tells about having a baby in a hospital where she is not treated as well as the white women. The older doctors tell the younger ones that black women don't feel the pain; just like horses. p.138 The only people black women don't have to take orders from are black children. p.150 A young black man is on his way to learning to hate white people. p.168 "They transferred this Anglophilia to their six children and sixteen grandchildren. Except for an occasional and unaccountable insurgent who chose a restive black, they married 'up,' lightening the family complexion and thinning out the family features." p.171 ". . .a few of the white-collar occupations available to black people, regardless of their noble bloodlines, in America:" DEATH p.135 "It was in the spring, a very chilly spring, that Aunt Jimmy died of peach cobbler." p.139 "The old lady ate a piece, and the next morning when Cholly went to empty the slop jar, she was dead." p.204 "We saw her sometimes. Frieda and I-after the baby came too soon and died." p.205 "Cholly died in the workhouse." RAPE AND MOLESTATION p.5 "We thought, at the time, that it was because Pecola was having her father's baby." p.98-102 Frieda, a young girl, tells her sister about a man who boards with their family having touched her inappropriately. p.162-163 A man raping his 11-year old daughter, Pecola, is described. p.166 The reader is told about a man's preference for little girls. p.172 "With only occasional, and increasingly rare, encounters with the little girls he could persuade to be entertained by him, he lived rather peaceably among his things, admitting to no regrets." p.178-182 The man who likes little girls writes a letter to God explaining why it is God's fault that the little girls need this man's attention. p.198 The rape by her father, and the subsequent bearing of his child, have driven Pecola crazy. She is talking to herself about the rape. WITCHCRAFT p.172-175 Pecola goes to a man who says he can interpret people's dreams and help them get what they want. She asks him to give her blue eyes. He tells her he can't do it, but that if she will feed a dog the stuff he gives her, the dogs reaction will tell if God is going to give her what she wants. He tricks her into poisoning the dog he hates, and she goes away thinking her eyes will turn blue. SEX IDENTITY ISSUES p.166 "He could have been an active homosexual but lacked the courage. Bestiality did not occur to him, and sodomy was quite out of the question, for he did not experience sustained erections and could not endure the thought of somebody else's." CRISIS p.5 An 11-year old girl is pregnant with her father's baby. The story is about the events that lead up to her pregnancy and what happens afterward. p.132 "When Cholly was four days old, his mother wrapped him in two blankets and one newspaper and placed him on a junk heap by the railroad." p.170 A man is thinking about how his wife left him.

Summary Details For Profanity/Language:

DEGRADING COMMENTS Six-finger-dog-tooth-meringue-pie p.63, 71, 73 No-count p.42 Fool p.10 Heifer p.13 Dog p.13 Hag p.14 Dumb p.54, 119 MILD OBSCENITIES Hellfire p.40 Hell p.55 SEXUALLY SUGGESTIVE Whores p.56 DEROGATORY TERMS N-word p.13, 18, 42, 87, 153, 189 Bastard p.42, 167x2 B*tch p.92, 144, 156 Coonbaby p.149 RELIGIOUS EXCLAMATIONS Jesus p.10, 53, 54, 55 God p.35, 41, 194 ANATOMICAL TERMS T*t p.40 *ss p.40 Butt p.41 SCATALOGICAL TERMS Sh*t p.14, 36, 139 Eyes like snot p.26 F-WORD F*** p.44, 87, 156

Summary Details For Sexual Content:

CHANGING BODY p.27-32 Pecola starts her period. She and Chloe and Frieda discuss "ministratin". p.33 "These young boys met there to feel their groins, smoke cigarettes, and plan mild outrages." p.70 "Do you know she doesn't even menstruate yet, and she's sixteen." SEXUAL INNUENDO p.14 "He ever been married to anybody?" "No." "How come? Somebody cut it off?" p.113 "Fantasies about men and love and touching were drawing her mind and hands away from her work." p.138 "The legs that straddled a mule's back were the same ones that straddled their men's hips." p.139 "In a dream his penis changed into a long hickory stick," p.159 Prostitutes "give him back his manhood, which he takes aimlessly." p.160 "To be required to sleep with the same woman forever was a curious and unnatural idea to him. . . " MATURE DISCUSSIONS ABOUT SEX p.42 "When he was still very young, Cholly had been surprised in some bushes by two white men while he was newly but earnestly engaged in eliciting sexual pleasure from a little country girl." p.50 "Three whores lived in the apartment above the Breedloves' storefront." p.51-57 The above ladies speak frankly about their pasts, men, and sex in front of Pecola. p.166 "The careful design was marred occasionally by rare but keen sexual carving." p.189-190 People discuss Pecola's pregnancy: who the father is, why she didn't fight him off, the fact that the baby probably won't live. SEXUAL ACTIVITY WITHOUT EXPLICIT DETAILS p.77-79 The girls see Mr. Henry in the house with two prostitutes. MENTION OF PORNOGRAPHY p.26 "You want to go up to Mr. Henry's room and look at his girlie magazines?" EXPLICIT DEPICTIONS OF SEX WITH NUDITY p.84-85 Description of intercourse. p.129-131 Description of intercourse. p.146-149 In this scene a young black man and woman are in the bushes having sex when a couple of white men surprise them. The white men stand and watch and insist that they finish the act.

Summary Details For Violence/Illegal Activity:

MILD VIOLENCE p.17 "Dog Breedlove had burned up his house, gone upside his wife's head, and everybody, as a result, was outdoors." p.97 The first green twigs of spring remind the narrator of switchings. p.119 "Look like working for that woman and fighting Cholly was all I did." p.123 "Cholly poked fun at me, and we started fighting again. I tried to kill him. He didn't hit me too hard, 'cause I were pregnant, I guess, but the fights, once they got started up again, kept up." p.133 "And ghost stories about how a white man cut off his wife's head and buried her in the swamp . . ." p.176 Mr. Henry tricks Pecola into poisoning a dog. FELONY p.159 "He had already killed three white men."

Summary Details For Tobacco/Alcohol/Drugs:

TOBACCO p.33, 54, 144 Various people smoke cigarettes. DRUNKENNESS p.9, 35, 40, 53, 151, 159, 160, 161, 198 These are all references to people being drunk.

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Summary Details For Disrespectful/Anti-Social Elements:

LYING AND CHEATING p.78 Mr. Henry has had two prostitutes in his landlady's house. He tells the little girls they were there for a Bible class. p.56 The prostitutes "took delight in cheating" their customers. BULLYING p.65-67 A group of school boys are tormenting a girl: "Yadaddsleepsnekked. Black e mo black e mo ya dadd sleeps nekked." Three other girls come to her rescue. p.87 "More and more Junior enjoyed bullying girls." p.88 "If a child wouldn't [play with him], or did and left too soon, Junior threw gravel at him." p.89-92 Junior tricks Pecola into coming into his house, then tries to trap her there. He hurts the cat, then blames it on Pecola when his mother comes home. EXPRESSIONS OF BAD ATTITUDES AND ANGER p.38-39 The Breedloves believe they are ugly people. Each member of the family deals with this differently. "Sammy used his as a weapon to cause others pain." p.40-44 Mr. and Mrs. Breedlove fight because he has come home drunk again. They are physically and verbally abusive to each other. The two children witness this. p.86 "It was not long before the child discovered the difference in his mother's behavior to himself and the cat. As he grew older, he learned how to direct his hatred of his mother to the cat, and spent some happy moments watching it suffer." p.86 "More and more she neglected her house, her children, her man-they were like afterthoughts . . ." p.162 "His hatred of her slimed in his stomach and threatened to become vomit."