Toni Morrison's World of Fiction

By Karen Carmean | Go to book overview
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Chapter 2
The Bluest Eye

Toni Morrison has been a consistently insightful and helpful critic of her work. With regard to her first novel, she has indicated that her plan was to take love and the effects of its scarcity in the world as her major themes, 1 concentrating on the interior lives of her characters, especially those of an enclosed community. 2 Her stated aim is to show "how to survive whole in a world where we are all of us, in some measure, victims of something." 3 Morrison's broad vision extends beyond the individual to one that explores self-discovery in relation to a "shared history." 4 In a film interview, Morrison has stated, "I suppose The Bluest Eye is about one's dependency on the world for identification, self-value, feelings of worth."5 In order to dramatize the destructive effects of this kind of dependency, she intentionally exaggerates to find the limits.

Morrison's rich novels of growing awareness, personal survival, and individual responsibility are often misunderstood or given limited interpretations when readers fail to pay close attention to her use of multiple narrative perspectives. 6 These shifts from first to third, intimate to omniscient, guide readers through often harrowing personal experiences and give personal as well as lyrical overviews. In The Bluest Eye, Claudia MacTeer provides a child's point of view--sometimes from an adult perspective--while an omniscient voice relates information unknown by Claudia. There are also passages shifting between third person omniscient and first person stream of consciousness. Morrison uses these combined voices to give varied perspectives without resorting to authorial intrusion or preaching. She wants her readers to participate fully in her fiction, to go

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