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Auteur: Toni Morrison

Titel: The Bluest Eye

Uitgave: Chatto & Windus, 1979, Londen

(oorspronkelijke Amerikaanse druk 1970)

Aantal bladzijden: 164

Genre: sociale roman (novelle)

Eerste reactie

Ik heb het boek gekozen nadat we het in de klas over de schrijfster Toni Morrison hebben gehad. Haar manier van schrijven interesseerde me en haar boeken die stonden besproken leken me allebei erg mooi. Dat waren “Beloved”en “The Bluest Eye”. Ik heb ze allebei geleend, maar omdat “Beloved”al een erg oud boek was zei een medewerker van de bibliotheek dat ik dit boek mocht houden. Ik heb daarom voor “The Bluest Eye”gekozen, want “Beloved” kan ik nu altijd nog lezen. Ook is “The Bluest Eye” wat dunner, dus dat sprak me ook wel aan.

Voordat ik begon te lezen heb ik al een beetje opgezocht op de site van de bibliotheek in Bergen op Zoom ( waar het boek ongeveer over gaat. Ik had dus verwacht dat het over een meisje zou gaan dat zwart was en arm leefde en die maar 1 wens had: blauwe ogen.

Nadat ik de eerste paar bladzijden had gelezen vond ik het boek nog erg vaag. Het begint namelijk met ongeveer een halve bladzijde uitleg over het huis en over een familie, maar dat alles in heel kleine zinnetjes met veel herhaling erin. Daarna wordt dit stukje nog een keer precies hetzelfde herhaald, maar dan met een kleinere regelafstand. Vervolgens wordt het nog een keer herhaald maar dan zonder spaties. Daarna komt er een soort inleiding over bloemen die dit jaar niet bloeien, en dan begint het echte verhaal pas.

Net nadat ik het boek had gelezen vond ik nog niet alles duidelijk. Ik heb het nog een keer opnieuw gelezen om ook wat meer structuur voor mezelf aan te brengen. Na de eerste keer was de volgorde van de fragmenten me nog niet helemaal duidelijk en soms ook niet over wie het precies ging.



The Bluest Eye is split into an untitled prelude and four large units, each named after a season. The four larger units begin with "Autumn" and end in "Summer," with each unit being split into smaller sections. The first section of each season is narrated by Claudia MacTeer, a woman whose memories frame the events of the novel. At the time that the main events of the plot take place, Claudia is a nine-year-old girl. This device allows Morrison to employ a reflective adult narrator without losing the innocent perspective of a child. Claudia MacTeer lives with her parents and her sister in the humble MacTeer family house in Lorrain, Ohio. The year is 1939.

The novel's focus, however, is on a girl named Pecola Breedlove. Pecola, we are told in the prelude, will be raped by her father by novel's end. The prelude frames the story so that the reader knows from the beginning that Pecola's story ends tragically. The Breedloves are poor, unhappy, and troubled. Their story seems in many ways to be deterministic, as they are often the victims of forces over which they have no control. Their situation is a powerful contrast to the MacTeers, who are of slender means but have a strong family unit. The MacTeers also seem to have much stronger agency, and are never really passive victims in the way that the Breedloves are.

When Claudia is not narrating, a third-person narrator takes her place. The narrative style, even in third person, is one of great psychological intimacy. The third-person narrator of The Bluest Eye is no dispassionate observer, but one who gives insights into the thoughts of characters and occasionally interprets events in a very explicit manner. The sections narrated in the third person are all focused on some aspect of Pecola's life‹the sections explore either a family member or a specific significant event. These sections have headings, taken from a reading primer's Dick and Jane story. The use of the primer is a biting comment on the distance between Pecola's life and the pink-skinned bourgeois world in the Dick and Jane story. Each heading is a clean, straightforward match up: the section about Pecola's house is headed by a Dick-and-Jane sentence about their house, the section about Pauline is prefaced by a Dick-and-Jane sentence about their mother, etc.

The basic plot is very simple: when Cholly Breedlove, Pecola's father, attempts to burn their house down, Pecola is sent by social workers to stay temporarily with the MacTeers. Claudia and Frieda befriend the girl, who is lonely, abused, and neglected. While staying with the MacTeers, she menstruates for the first time. Her first period, as the reader must consider it, becomes an upsetting event‹it makes it possible for her to be impregnated later by her own father. Pecola Breedlove goes back to live with her family, (Ik vond dit erg onduidelijk in het boek, ineens was ze weer thuis, in eerste instantie dacht ik dat het een terugblik was naar de tijd voordat ze bij de familie MacTeers woonde, maar later ging het over haar menstruatie, en deze had voor het eerst plaatsgevonden bij de familie MacTeers, dus toen kwam ik er pas achter dat ze alweer thuis woonde.) and we see aspects of her life depicted one section at a time. The Breedlove home is a converted storefront, cold and in disrepair. Pauline and Cholly Breedlove fight incessantly and with terrifying ferocity‹their battles always end up being physical‹and her brother Sammy runs away from home constantly. The Breedloves' name is suggestive and ironic: "love" is exactly what the family lacks, and certainly they are unable to generate more of it, as suggested by the word "breed." Instead, "breed" becomes an ominous reference to what Cholly ends up doing with his own daughter.

Pauline is an unhappy woman who takes refuge in the wrathful and unforgiving aspects of Christianity. She lavishes her love on the white family for whom she works, while her own family lives in squalor. Cholly is an angry and irresponsible man, violent, cruel, and uncontrollable. All of the Breedloves are considered ugly, although part of the novel's work is to question and deconstruct what that ugliness really means. To get away from her parents and to pass the hours, Pecola spends a great deal of time with the whores who live upstairs. China, Poland, and Marie tolerate her presence without providing any deep love for the girl.

Pecola is obsessed, we learn, with blue eyes. She prays for them constantly, and is convinced that by making her beautiful the blue eyes would change her life. From Pecola's wish and from many other events in the novel, it becomes clear that most of the people in Lorrain's black community consider whiteness beautiful and blackness ugly. The novel has many character who long to look white, and also has several characters of mixed ancestry who emulate whites and try to suppress all things in themselves that might be African. Soaphead Church's Anglophile family and Geraldine are examples of this kind of black person.

(Pecola dacht ook dat, wanneer ze blauwe ogen zou hebben, alles vanzelf beter zou gaan om haar heen. Dat wordt duidelijk in dit fragment: ‘It had occurred to Pecola some time ago that if her eyes, those eyes that held the pictures, and knew the sights – if those eyes of hers were different, that is to say, beautifull, she herself would be different. Her teeth were good, and at least her nose was not big and flat like some of those who were thought so cute. If she looked different, beautifull, maybe Cholly would be different, and Mrs. Breedlove too. Maybe they’d say, “Why, look at pretty-eyed Pecole. We mustn’t do bad things in front of those pretty eyes.” Blz. 34)

The MacTeer family goes through their own small dramas, as Frieda and Claudia deal with stuck-up schoolmates and a lecherous boarder. Consistently, the MacTeer family is able to insulate the girls from harm. When their boarder, a man named Mr. Henry, makes an indecent pass at eleven-year-old Frieda, Mr. and Mrs. MacTeer react with force, protecting their daughter violently and without any doubt of her innocence. In contrast, in the Breedlove family the sexual threat comes not from outside the family unit but from within. One Saturday in spring, Cholly rapes Pecola. He rapes her a second time soon afterward. Pecola then becomes pregnant with her father's child.

Miserable and desperate, Pecola believes more than ever that blue eyes would change her life. She goes to a pedophilic fortune-teller named Soaphead Church to ask for blue eyes. Soaphead Church decides that he can use her for a small task, and so he uses an unwitting Pecola to kill a dog that he hates. She completes the task, which she believes will be like a transformative spell. The dog dies in a gruesome manner, and Pecola runs away in terror. The next time we see Pecola, she's lost her mind. She spends all of her time talking to a new "friend"; he/she is an imaginary friend who is now the only person with whom Pecola speaks. The topic of conversation is most frequently the blueness of Pecola's eyes. Pecola spends the rest of her life as a madwoman.

The title of the novel provides some interesting insights about standards of beauty. Morrison is interested in showing the illusory nature of the social construction of beauty, which is created in part by the imaginary world of advertising billboards and movie stars. The title uses the superlative of blue because at the end of the novel, when Pecola has gone mad, she is obsessed with having the bluest eyes of anyone living. But the title also has "eye" in the singular‹by disembodying the eye, Morrison subverts the idea of beauty or standards of beauty, tearing the idealized part away from the whole, creating a beauty icon that is not even human. Reinforcing this non-human aspect of the ideal eye, Pecola's new blue eyes at the novel's end are not described with colors in the human range‹her eyes are blue like streaks of cobalt, or more blue than the sky itself.

At key points in the novel, important plot information is revealed through gossip. Morrison writes long stretches of beautiful and uninterrupted dialogue, with great sensitivity to oral language. Pauline Breedlove gets a chance to speak in the first person near the middle of the novel; in a section divided between third-person narrator and Pauline, she gets to address the reader directly and in dialect. Morrison's interest in carving a place for oral language in literary art is readily apparent in this novel.

Morrison occasionally switches tense, moving fluidly to present tense when it serves her. The move has different effects: for some scenes, it provides a sense of great immediacy. In one sequence narrated by Claudia, it creates the feel that Claudia is reliving the experience. In other scenes, it creates the feel of a pattern. When Pecola tries to by candy at a local grocer's, we read about the moment in present tense. In this case, Morrison's use of the present tense suggests that the unpleasant interaction between Pecola and the shopkeeper forms a template for all of her interactions with other human beings.

Morrison, by employing multiple narrators, is trying to make sure that no single voice becomes authoritative. The gossiping women become narrators in their own right, relaying critical information and advancing the story at key points. Claudia's perspective is balanced by the third person narrator, and Pauline Breedlove narrates for parts of one of the middle sections of the novel. This method of multiplying narrative perspectives also demands more active participation on the part of the reader, who must reassemble the parts in order to see the whole. Morrison is still working somewhat clumsily with this type of narrative in The Bluest Eye. In later novels, she has a chance to experiment and refine her forms further.

De samenvatting komt van de site:

Ik heb voor de korte samenvatting gekozen, de andere was namelijk ongeveer 20 bladzijden in wordt.



De schrijfstijl wisselt nogal, het hangt van wie er aan het woord is, of wie verteld, af hoe het wordt verteld. Het eerste stukje lijkt op een stukje uit een dagboek van een kind van ongeveer 10 jaar. Zij komt in het vervolg ook nog vaak aan bod als vertelster, het verhaal is dan ook op die manier geschreven. Later vertelt er ook wel eens een derde persoon, iemand die erbuiten staat. Deze laatste persoon schrijft veel volwassener en veel beschrijvender. Over het algemeen is de schrijfstijl sowieso erg beschrijvend, de omgeving en situatie worden erg lang uitgelegd.


Het verhaal speelt zich allemaal in hetzelfde stadje af waarvan de naam onbekend is. Het einde van het verhaal is in 1941, het begin rond 1939 denk ik. Soms kijk je terug in de tijd naar bijvoorbeeld de jeugd van Cholly. Er zijn dus ook enkele flashbacks.


Claudia MacTeer: the first-person narrator of the first section in each of the four units. Claudia is nine years old, extremely bright, and comes from a loving family that owns their own house. She is warm-hearted and sensitive, but she is also angered by injustice and instinctively feels threatened by the standards of beauty that glorify Shirley Temple while ignoring black children. As a narrator, she fluctuates between an adult voice and a child's‹without problems.

* “Want a penny?” He held out a shiny coin to us. Frieda lowered her head, too pleased to answer. I reached for it. He snapped his thumb and forefinger, and the penny disappeared. Our shock was laced with delight. (blz. 10)

Pecola Breedlove: Pecola is twelve years old. Her family lives in a converted storefront. She is considered ugly, and is emotionally and socially awkward. She prays for blue eyes, because she knows from images in movies and on candy wrappers that to have blue eyes is to be loved. She is raped by her father, Cholly, in the spring, and becomes pregnant. Her baby comes too early and dies. Terrified of her parents, she is not free (due to gender and age) to run away from home as Sammy does. Either during the pregnancy or after the miscarriage, Pecola goes mad, manufacturing an imaginary friend who becomes her only conversation partner.

* A group of boys was circling and holding at bay a victim, Pecola Breedlove. Bay Boy, Woodrow Cain, Buddy Wilson, Junie Bug – like a necklace of semiprecious stones they surrounded her. (blz. 50)

* I just wondered. You don’t talk to anybody. You don’t go to school. And nobody talks to you. – How do you know nobody talks to me? – They don’t. When you’re in the house with me, even Mrs. Breedlove doesn’t say anything to you. Ever. Sometimes I wonder if she even sees you. – Why wouldn’t she see me? – I don’t know. She almost walks right over you. (blz. 156)

Frieda MacTeer: Claudia's sister, age 11. Frieda makes important decisions at several places in the novel, and she is the clear leader of the MacTeer sisters. Like her sister, she is sensitive and concerned about Pecola, and is willing to stand up for herself and others. She is the more fearless of the two girls.

* “……Then Rosemary came out and said that Daddy was going to jail, and I hit her.” “Real heard?” “Real hard.” (blz. 77)

* She looked at me in amazement and pointed to the jar. “What’s that supposed to do?” “You told me. You said get some water.” “Not a little old jar full. Lots of water. To scrub the steps with, dumbbell!” “How was I supposed to know?” Ÿeah. How was you……” (blz. 20)

Pauline Breedlove: Mother of Sammy and Pecola, wife to Cholly. She has a lame foot and a missing front tooth. She is harsh and abusive to her children. She lavishes her love on the Fishers, her generous white employers, while her own family falls apart. She and Cholly battle constantly. Although once she longed to have nicer things and romantic love, she settles into surviving through her work and being a martyr by staying with Cholly. She is religious in a vindictive and vengeful way, hoping that the Lord will help her in her war against Cholly.

* We remembered Mrs. Breedlove knocking Pecola down and soothing the pink tears of the frozen doll baby that sounded like the door of our icebox. (blz. 150)

Cholly Breedlove: A violent drunk, an unfaithful husband, an abusive father. Cholly was humiliated by white hunters when a young boy, and the shame stuck with him. Abandoned by both of his parents, he has no concept of parenting. He rapes Pecola, skipping town when she becomes pregnant.

* Cholly knew it was wrong to run out on a pregnant girl, and recalled, with sympathy, that his father had done just that. Nog he understood. He knew what he must do – find his father. (blz. 119)

Mrs. MacTeer: Mother to Frieda and Claudia. She is not an indulgent mother, but she is fiercely protective and loving. Her word is law with the two girls‹at several points the girls attempt to decide what to do based on literal interpretations of things Mrs. MacTeer has said.

* Mama released Pecola and stood looking at her. Then she pulled both of them toward her, their heads against her stomach. Her eyes were sorry. (blz. 22)

Mr. MacTeer: Father to Frieda and Claudia. Like his wife, he is a harsh but loving parent.

* “I told Mama, and she told Daddy, and we all came home, and he was gone, so we waited for him, and when Daddy saw him come up on the porch, he threw our old tricycle at his head and knocked him off the porch.” (blz. 77)

Sammy Breedlove: An unhappy and young teenage boy, constantly in trouble, constantly running away from home for months at a time. Unlike Pecola, he has freedom, as a male, to escape the Breedloves' miserable home life.

* Panting, she trew a quilt over him and let him lie. Sammy screamed, “Kill him! Kill him!” (blz. 33)

Soaphead Church (aka Elihu Whitcomb): a man of mixed white and black ancestry from the Caribbean. He is the town fortuneteller, in addition to being megalomaniacal pedophile who plays God. His "magic" is the final snap that breaks Pecola's sanity.

* I, I have caused a miracle. I gave her the eyes. I gave her the blue, blue, two blue eyes. Cobalt blue. A streak of it right out of your own blue heaven. No one else will see her blue eyes. But she will. And sje will live happily ever after. I, I have found it meet and right so to do. Now you are jealous. You are jealous of me. (blz. 144)

Bertha Reese: an old, religious woman from whom Soaphead Church rents his room. She is the owner of Bob, the dog that Soaphead Church loathes.

Mr. Henry: The middle-aged boarder taken in by the MacTeers near the beginning of the novel. Mr. Henry is charming but is somewhat lecherous‹he invites prostitutes under the MacTeer roof when the MacTeers are gone, and later he makes sexual advances at eleven-year-old Frieda.

* We looked sideways at him, saying nothing and expecting him to say nothing. Just to nod, as he had done at the clothes closet, acknowledging our existence. To our surprise, he spoke to us. “Hello there. You must be Greta Garbo, and you must be Ginger Rogers.” (blz. 10)

China, Poland, and Marie (aka the Maginot Line): the three prostitutes who live upstairs from Pecola. Pecola seeks refuge in their company when her family is too unbearable. All three women are long past their prime, but fat Marie is the most despised by Mrs. MacTeer and the most feared by Frieda and Claudia. Their names are heavily symbolic, as all three refer to countries where are occupied or facing invasion by fascist armies in 1939.

* “I never seen nobody with as many boyfriends as you got, Miss Marie. How come they all love you?” Marie opened a bottle of root beer. “What else they gone do? They know I’m rich and good-lookin’. They wants to put their shoes in my curly hair, and get at my money.” (blz. 40)

Geraldine: A well-off black woman with a husband, one son, and a cat. Geraldine is concerned with being respectable, and despises poor blacks. When her son, Louis, Jr., lies to her and tells her that Pecola killed Geraldine's beloved cat, her treatment of Pecola is brutal.

* “Get out,” she said, her voice quiet. “You nasty little black bitch. Get out of my house.” (blz. 72)

Louis, Jr.: a little boy, son of Geraldine. He tricks Pecola into coming into his house, where he throws a cat in her face, kills the cat, and then blames her for it.

* “You can’t get out. You’re my prisoner,” he said. His eyes were merry but hard. (blz. 70)

Maureen Peal: the new girl at school. She is mulatto and very well-off. Walking home with the MacTeer sisters and Pecola one day, she starts out being civil but very quickly becomes haughty. She is the darling of teachers, and Claudia sees in her all of the social forces that she fears and despises. Claudia insists that the societal forces are more to be feared and hated than Maureen herself.

* It was extremely important that the world not know that I fully expected Maureen to buy us some ice cream, that for the past 120 seconds I had been selecting the flavor, that I had begun to like Maureen, and that neither of us had a penny. (blz. 53)

Mr. Yacobowski: store owner who sells Pecola nine pieces of Mary Jane candy. Pecola can read in his eyes the impatience and disdain that he feels for her, and she internalizes all of it.

Rosemary: a girl who lives next door. A tattletale. Claudia and Frieda dislike her immensely.

* We always did our Candy Dance there so Rosemary could see us and get jealous. (blz. 59)

Miss Dunion: A nosy neighbor who lives next door. When she insinuates that Mr. Henry might have "ruined" Frieda, she incites the wrath of Mrs. MacTeer.

Great Aunt Jimmy: the woman who raised Cholly. She was already ancient when she took him in, right after he had been abandoned by his own mother. She dies when Cholly is a young teenage boy.

* Aunt Jimmy raised Cholly herself, but took delight sometimes in telling him of how she had saved him. (blz. 103)

M'Dear: An old wise woman who comes to give Aunt Jimmy medical advice. She is a tall woman, and her authority is considered infallible. Sure enough, when Aunt Jimmy violates one of M'Dear's prescriptions, she dies.

* To aunt Jimmy she said, “You done caught cold in your womb. Drink pot liquor and nothing else.” (blz. 107)

Samson Fuller: Possibly Cholly's father. When Cholly is a young man, he tracks Samson down. Samson humiliates him and tells him to go away.

* “I just thought… I mean, I was just wandering around, and, uh, my name is Cholly…” But Fuller had turned back to the game that was about to begin anew. (blz. 123)

Blue Jack: The closest thing to a father figure in Cholly's early life. He shares a watermelon heart with Cholly and it's one of the happiest moments Cholly ever knows.

De beschrijvingen van de verhaalfiguren komen van dezelfde site als de samenvatting.


De situaties zijn al in de samenvatting en in de karaktereigenschappen van de verhaalfiguren verwerkt.


Het verhaal wisselt nogal van perspectief. Als het over een situatie gaat waarin Claudia voorkomt is zij degene die vertelt. Wanneer zij er niet in voorkomt is het vaak een personaal verhaal. En wanneer er een flashback of een omgeving wordt beschreven is het meestal een auctoriaal verhaal.


Ik denk dat het hoofdthema in dit boek het rassenverschil is. Het verschil tussen blank en zwart en wat dat in dit geval voor een jong zwart meisje kan betekenen. Hoe belangrijk dat verschil voor haar kan zijn, veel belangrijker dan je op het eerste moment denkt.

* ‘It had occurred to Pecola some time ago that if her eyes, those eyes that held the pictures, and knew the sights – if those eyes of hers were different, that is to say, beautifull, she herself would be different. Her teeth were good, and at least her nose was not big and flat like some of those who were thought so cute. If she looked different, beautifull, maybe Cholly would be different, and Mrs. Breedlove too. Maybe they’d say, “Why, look at pretty-eyed Pecole. We mustn’t do bad things in front of those pretty eyes.” (blz. 34)

Een ander thema in dit verhaal is aanranding. Er worden verschillende kinderen in dit verhaal betast, aangerand, of zelfs verkracht. Ik denk dat het de bedoeling van de schrijfster is om ten eerste te laten zien dat zoiets in die tijd niet eens als iets heel zeldzaams werd gezien, en ten tweede om de lezer te waarschuwen.

De titel lijkt me erg duidelijk. Pecola wilde graag de blauwste ogen van heel de wereld hebben om haar eigen leven op een andere, positieve, manier te kunnen zien.

Plaats in de literatuurgeschiedenis

Het werk is voor het eerst gepubliceerd in 1970 in Amerika. De schrijfster is Toni Morrison. Op de site staat een biografie over Toni Morrison.

Toni Morrison was born Chloe Anthony Wofford in 1931 in Lorain, Ohio, the daughter of a shipyard welder and a religious woman who sang in the church choir. Her parents had moved to Ohio from the South, hoping to raise their children in an environment more friendly to blacks. Despite the move to the North, the Wofford household was a world steeped in the oral traditions of Southern blacks. The songs, stories, and women's gossip of Chloe Wofford's childhood undoubtedly influenced her later work; a great part of Toni Morrison's struggle has been to create a literary language of black America that draws strength from the oral art forms of that culture.

She was an extremely gifted student, learning to read at an early age and doing well at her studies at an integrated school. Her parent's move succeeded in many respects: racial prejudice was less of a problem in Lorain, Ohio than it would have been in the South, and Chloe Wofford played with a racially diverse group of friends when she was young. Inevitably, however, she began to feel more of the effects of racial discrimination as she and her peers grew older. She graduated with honors in 1949 and went to Howard University in Washington D.C. At Howard, she majored in English and minored in classics, and was actively involved in theatre arts through the Howard University Players. She graduated from Howard in 1953 with a B.A. in English and a new name‹Toni Wofford, Toni being a shortened version of her middle name. She went on to receive her M.A. in English from Cornell in 1955.

She began teaching at Texas Southern University that year. Unlike Howard, Texas Southern University had a less assimilation-oriented approach to black education. Consciousness of a distinct Afro-American history and culture was part of the intellectual territory, and during her years there Morrison may have had her first exposure to the academic approach to the black experience. She left Texas Southern for Howard University in 1957, meeting Harold Morrison the next year. They married, and before their divorce in 1964, Toni and Harold Morrison had two sons. It was also during this time that she wrote the short story that would become the basis for her first novel, The Bluest Eye.

1964 marks the beginning of her twenty years as an editor at Random House. With two sons in tow, she took a job in Syracuse, New York as an associate editor. She worked as an editor, raised her sons as a single mom, and continued to write fiction. In 1967 she received a promotion to senior editor and a much-desired transfer to New York City. The Bluest Eye was published in 1970. The story of a young girl who loses her mind, the novel was well received by critics but was a commercial failure. Between 1971 and 1972 Morrison worked as a professor of English for the State University of New York at Purchase while holding her job at Random House and working on Sula, a novel about a defiant woman and relations between black females. Sula was published in 1973. The years 1976 and 1977 saw Morrison working as a visiting lecturer at Yale and working on her next novel, Song of Solomon. This next novel dealt more fully with black male characters. As with Sula, Morrison wrote the novel while holding a teaching position, continuing her work as an editor for Random House, and raising her two sons. Song of Solomon was published in 1977 and enjoyed both commercial and critical success. In 1981 Morrison published Tar Baby, a novel focusing on a stormy relationship between a man and a woman. In 1983 she left Random House. The next year she took a position at the State University of New York in Albany. Beloved was published in 1987. Many consider Beloved to be Morrison's masterpiece. Mythic in scope, Beloved tells the story of an emancipated slave woman named Sethe who is haunted by the ghost of the daughter she killed. The novel is an ambitious attempt to grapple with slavery and the tenacity of its legacy. Dedicated to the tens of millions of slaves who died in the trans-Atlantic journey, Beloved could be called a foundation story (like Genesis or Exodus) for black America. It became a best seller and received a Pulitzer prize.

In 1987 Toni Morrison became the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Council of Humanities at Princeton University. She is the first Afro-American female writer to hold a named chair at a university in the Ivy League. She published Jazz in 1992, along with a non-fiction book entitled Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. The next year she became the eighth woman and the first black woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. 1998 saw the publication of her seventh novel, Paradise.

One of the most critically acclaimed living writers, Morrison has been a major architect in creating a literary language for Afro-Americans. Her use of shifting perspective, fragmentary narrative, and a narrative voice extremely close to the consciousness of her characters reveals the influence of writers like Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner‹two writers that Morrison, not coincidentally, studied extensively while a college student. All of her work also shows the influence of Afro-American folklore, songs, and women's gossip. In her attempts to map these oral art forms onto literary modes of representation, Morrison has created a body of work informed by a distinctly black sensibility while drawing a reading audience from across racial boundaries.

Over het boek zelf in de geschiedenis staat dit geschreven:

Published in 1970, The Bluest Eye came about at a critical moment in the history of American civil rights. Morrison began Pecola's story as a short piece in1962; it became a novel-in-progress by 1965. It was written, as one can see from the dates, during the years of some of the most dynamic and turbulent transformations of Afro-American life.

One of those transformations was a new recognition of Black-American beauty. After centuries of coveting white dolls and decades of longing to look like Caucasian Hollywood stars (and thinking that it was perfectly appropriate to do so), Black-Americans began to argue for a new standard of beauty. This new standard was meant to be racially inclusive, allowing blacks to see black as beautiful, but the need to argue for this new standard reveals how firmly the white standard of beauty was entrenched.

In a new Afterword to the novel's 1993 reprint, Morrison says that she got the idea for The Bluest Eye in part from an elementary school classmate. The girl, whose wish for the eyes of a white girl revealed her contempt for her own racial identity, raised troubling questions about beauty and oppression. As an emerging writer, she remembered the girl and became interested in the mechanics of feelings of inferiority "originating in an outside gaze." Pecola's tragedy was not meant to be typical, but by showing societal and situational forces working against an extremely vulnerable little girl, Morrison hoped to get at a truth about those societal forces. The effect is like speeding up film of a slow process‹by looking at the extreme case of Pecola, we learn the truth about our world, a truth that we are normally incapable of noticing.

The novel also set up many of the issues with which Morrison has been concerned ever since. The style is fragmentary‹a kind of democratic narrative in which many narrative voices are privileged to speak. Morrison has used variations of this system in other novels, favoring this strategy as a way to look at a story from many angles without giving too much control to one voice. And Morrison's concern with oral Black-American traditions is apparent from the very first lines of Claudia's prelude.

But in this particular novel, Morrison has attempted to examine the forces that can make the oppressed take part in their own oppression‹how can it be that a little girl could be made to feel so ugly? Why do the black children of the novel‹and of the period‹insult each other by calling each other black? What does it mean (and what does it do) when a black woman wishes she could look like Jean Harlow? How has this happened? What has been lost? Is there a way out?

The Bluest Eye enjoyed some (but far from universal) critical success on its first publication, but the novel was also a commercial failure. In 1993, after Morrison won the Nobel Prize for Literature, Plume published a new edition with a new Afterword by the author.

Toni Morrison schrijft veel boeken over zwarten in een wereld waar ook blanken leven, en wat dit met hen doet. Over macht en onderdrukking. Het boek is dus wel typerend voor haar.

Ook is het boek typerend voor de tijd en de periode waarin het is geschreven. Toni Morrison heeft er echter wel haar eigen visie duidelijk aan toegevoegd.


Positieve verhaalelementen

De passage die mij het sterkst aanspreekd in het fragment wat ik al eerder heb besproken. Het is het stukje waarin duidelijk wordt waarom Pecola zo graag blauwe ogen wil, waarin ze uitlegt wat zij denkt wat dat allemaal in haar leven zou veranderen.

* ‘It had occurred to Pecola some time ago that if her eyes, those eyes that held the pictures, and knew the sights – if those eyes of hers were different, that is to say, beautifull, she herself would be different. Her teeth were good, and at least her nose was not big and flat like some of those who were thought so cute. If she looked different, beautifull, maybe Cholly would be different, and Mrs. Breedlove too. Maybe they’d say, “Why, look at pretty-eyed Pecole. We mustn’t do bad things in front of those pretty eyes.” (blz. 34)

Een ander stukje dat mij erg aanspreekt is het stukje waarin Pecola bij Soaphead Church komt en zegt dat ze blauwe ogen wil. Zijn reactie vind ik erg mooi beschreven.

* Soaphead Church told her to come in. “What can I do for you, my child?” She stood there, her hands folded across her stomach, a little protruding pot of tummy. “Maybe. Maybe you can do it for me.” “Do what for you?” “I can’t go to school no more. And I thought maybe you could help me.” “Help you how? Tell me. Don’t be frightened.” “My eyes.” “What about your eyes?” “I want them blue.” Soaphead pursed his lips, and let his tongue stroke a gold inlay. He thought is was at once the most fantastic and the most logical petition he had ever received. Here was an ugly girl asking for beauty. A surge of love and understanding swept through him, but quickly re places by anger. Anger that he was powerless to help her. (blz. 137)

Ook vind ik het zinnetje een stukje verderop erg mooi:

* No one else will see her blue eyes. But she will. (blz. 144)

Negatieve verhaalelementen

Sommige stukken vond ik erg saai, en vaak snapte ik ook bij die stukken niet over wie of wat het precies ging en wat het met de rest van het verhaal te maken had. Dit waren dan vaak ook nog de stukken die het langdradigst besproken werden dus af en toe heb ik een halve bladzijde overgeslagen.

In het volgende fragment wordt het levensverhaal van Geraldine verteld. Ik snap nog steeds niet helemaal wat zij met de rest van het boek te maken heeft, behalve dat haar zoontje 1 van de kinderen is die Pecola pest.

* They come from…. Her name was Geraldine. (blz. 63 t/m 67)

Ook vond ik de stukken saai waarin het verleden van de ouders van Pecola werd verteld. Van deze stukken snap ik wel beter wat ze met het verhaal te maken hebben, maar het voegt niet echt iets toe. Het was meer een uitweiding die ik niet nodig had gevonden.

* When Cholly was four… the face of her mother looming over her. (blz. 103 t/m 129)

* The easiest thing to do…But I like I say, I don’t recollect it much anymore. (blz. 86 t/m 102)

Vergelijking met andere boeken

Ik vind niet dat dit boek goed met andere boeken die ik heb gelezen te vergelijken valt. Er zijn wel boeken die ik gelezen heb die over ondrukking, macht en blank en zwart gaan, maar toch is dit boek anders. Ik denk dat dat komt omdat dit boek meer volwassen geschreven is dan de andere boeken die ik hierover heb gelezen. Ik heb bijvoorbeeld net een jeugdboek uit over kindsoldaten in Afrika. Ook dit gaat zeer zeker over onderdrukking en macht. Maar toch is het anders. In dit boek (Als de olifanten vechten door Dirk Bracke) worden veel meer gebeurtenissen en situaties beschreven. Je volgt gewoon een groep jongeren en je maakt met hen mee wat zij meemaken. In The Bluest Eye is dat anders. Het gaat daar veel meer over de acterliggende gedachte. Je maakt ook wel mee wat de personen in het boek meemaken, maar je verplaatst je veel meer in hun achtergrond en hun geschiedenis.

Waarschijnlijk is dit boek wel goed te vergelijken met andere volwassen boeken die over dit onderwerp gaan, maar hier heb ik geen ervaring mee.

Oordeel over thematiek

Ik vind het thema in het boek heel mooi. Het is niet zo alledaags en het is bekeken vanuit je ogen van een kind. Dat vind ik origineel. Het is voor mij geen herkenbaar probleem, maar ik denk dat ik me wel in de situatie van Pecola zou kunnen inleven. Het zinnetje wat mij het meest aan het denken heeft gezet is: No one else will see her blue eyes. But she will. (blz. 144) Ik vind dit echt heel mooi gevonden. Als je het objectief bekijkt betekent dit zinnetje dat het eigen geloof genoeg is. Wanneer je zelf gelooft dat er iets is verandert, komen de gevolgen van deze verandering ook vanzelf. Pecola gelooft in de rest van het boek dat zij blauwe ogen heeft, alles wat zij verwacht dat daardoor zou veranderen verandert ook echt. Het is haar eigen wereldje die dat regelt.

Oordeel over taalgebruik

Ik vind het taalgebruik in het boek niet moeilijk. Natuurlijk begreep ik sommige woorden niet, maar ik kon makkelijk uit de context afleiden wat ze betekenden. De zinnen lopen goed in elkaar over en het verhaal was over het algemeen goed te volgen.


Ik vind het een heel mooi boek, omdat er heel mooi in wordt beschreven wat zoiets simpels als de kleur van je ogen kan veranderen in iemands leven. Soms vond ik het een beetje langdradig en saai, maar dit was niet echt storend. Als ik het boek een cijfer zou moeten geven zou dat een 8- zijn.

Ik zou het boek niet aan iedereen aanraden om het te lezen, ik denk dat je toch op een bepaalde manier moet denken om dit boek te snappen en mooi te vinden. Maar ik weet zeker dat ik wel een paar mensen ken die er hetzelfde als mij over zouden denken.


Eldorado basisboek


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hihihi jij hebt je boekverslag hier naar opgestuurd grappig :D kdacht al dit komt me bekend voor...

15 jaar geleden