“The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion” This quote is explaining that if every book is censored that no-one will be able to think or say what they really feel. (Shultz). The Bluest Eye is a very controversial piece of literature. Many people say that it should be burned due to the many inhumane activities included. On the other side, there are plenty of reasons why people say that The Bluest Eye is a very important piece of historically correct literature.
The Bluest Eye has earned literary merit through its discussions of controversial issues seen in an African American child growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood, which also resulted in its banishment due to the events that she goes through such as incest and rape. The Bluest Eye is mostly narrated by an African American girl named Claudia MacTeer. However, there is a main focus on another young African American girl named Pecola Breedlove. Pecola’s mother is very cruel to her family by being a constant reminder that life will never equal what it would if they were of a different ethnicity.
Pecola’s father, Cholly, drinks excessively and rapes his daughter later on in the novel. Despite both of their difficult lives, “Pecola, like Pauline, [yearn] to be seen as beautiful, they long for the blue eyes of the most admired child in the 1940s: Shirley Temple” (Bump). Morrison recalls in elementary school, a young friend told her that she wanted to have blue eyes. Morrison writes, The Bluest Eye was my effort to say something about that; to say something about why she had not, or possibly ever would have, the experience of what she possessed and also why she prayed for so radical an alteration” (The Bluest 77).
When she was writing The Blues Eye, Morrison was attempting to make people realize that there are socially acceptable versions of beauty. Those problems did in fact include racism, abuse, family issues, and struggling minorities. In the 1940’s, not everyone was aware that minorities could be beautiful. Morrison writes in her book, “I destroyed white baby dolls. But the dismembering of dolls was not the true horror. The truly horrifying thing was the transference of the same impulses to little white girls” (22).
This is showing that she hates little white girls because they are seen to be the perfect people in society. She should have seen herself as being beautiful but instead she judges herself based upon others looks. “Long hours she sat looking in the mirror, trying to discover the secret of the ugliness, the ugliness that made her ignored or despised at school, by teachers and classmates alike” (Morrison 45). This once again is showing how Pecola thinks she is so ugly. In reality she is beautiful, but she does not realize it.
As Dorothy Lee says, “Each novel reveals the acuity of her perception of psychological motivation—of the female especially, of the Black particularly, and of the human generally” (84). In laymans terms this means that every novel shows how someone views themselves, especially an African American female. This also adds to reason for The Bluest Eye having literary merit. In all of Morrison’s pieces she has a main point that shows the physiological and physical struggles in that specific society. In this case her physiological and physical struggles are showing a strong side of a huge African American movement.
Jacqueline Weever stated, “A woman may whiten her skin, straighten her hair and change its color, but she cannot change the color or her eyes. ” (85). This goes along with the idea of the perfect girl. The description is known very well to everyone, blonde hair and blue eyes. Sadly, this is what everyone sees as the ideal woman. Ironically, this story was named The Bluest Eye. This story goes completely against this description, which is another reason why it has literary merit. The same theme led us into the Civil Rights Movement.
The reasoning behind Morrison writing about a true real-life situation in the north during the 1960’s is because Morrison is a critic of several aspects of the Civil Rights Movement. This means that she has many experiences and she can put in feelings behind each of her pieces. After writing The Bluest Eye, Morrison stated in many interviews that “Black is Beautiful”, and that was the message she was trying to get through to everyone. (The Bluest 77). There are many ways that Morrison shows that there are problems with the place of African Americans in society.
This goes along with the idea of acceptance. A very good example of that is, on the first page of reading; she writes in the normal way that text should be formatted at the top of the page. Another line down the same text is formatted but without capitalization and there is no punctuation. Following that line there is the same text and it is written with no capitalization, no punctuation, and no spaces: Here is the house. It is green and white. It has a red door. It is very pretty. Here is the family. Mother, Father, Dick, and Jane live in the green-and-white house.
Here is the house it is green and white it has a red door it is very pretty here is the family mother father dick and jane live in the green-and-white house Hereisthehouseitisgreenandwhiteithasareddooritisveryprettyhereisthefamilymotherfatherdickandjaneliveinthegreenandwhitehouse (Morrison 5-6) By doing this she is demonstrating the destruction of the “normative” model of the American Dream into a jumble of letters on a page. (The Bluest 78). This goes back to the theme of the perfect white neighborhood, which should stand out to a society where people don’t fit in. This is sometimes referred to the American Dream.
This same point is continued in the novel in many ways. For example, “Morrison remembers that when The Bluest Eye was first published in 1970, its reception was like the life of her young protagonist: ‘dismissed, trivialized, misread’” (Shultz). When Toni Morrison wrote her book, she wrote it in a manner of a little girl growing up in a white society. This makes this book important to history because it is something that would stand out to a group of people who are trying to fit into a community. There are a lot of people all over the world that have this problem and this book would prove to them that they can get through their problems.
In the book, there are many statements that are used that tell us that the main character, Pecola is going through a time of not being accepted in her society. “Further, her rejection of Pecola and blackness illustrates again to Pecola her own lack of worth” (Henningfeld 79). Even though The Bluest Eye is known for all the problems and for giving hope to minorities, it gives very descriptive sex scenes. For example, “I stretch my legs open, and he is on top of me. Too heavy to hold, and too light not to. He puts his thing in me” (Morrison 130).
As readers get to this point in the book they start to realize that this is not the first time that she had been raped, which is why it is banned in so many places. To add to all of it the language in this book is very strong and many critics think that it should not be seen by younger kids. This book is banned from many places including California, Colorado, Michigan, and Indiana because of its vulgarity (Titus). This book gives many detailed descriptions of incest, rape, and sex. Pecola’s father rapes and impregnates her. Then later it is told that the baby dies and Pecola is then told that the marigolds die