Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye

By Harold Bloom | Go to book overview

STEPHANIE A. DEMETRAKOPOULOS


Bleak Beginnings: The Bluest Eye

The Bluest Eye is in two ways Morrison's depression novel. First, it comes out of a spiritual loneliness when she was a divorced, single mother, with two preschool boys, and was trying to establish herself in the work world with little support system. In a film for the " Writer in America Series" she says that after her divorce "my spirit was hurt," and implies that writing the novel during the evenings after her children were in bed helped to heal her. She began the novel as a short story, writing her first words of fiction when her boys were barely toddlers, and she had to produce something to stay in a writers' group, apparently her only social outlet at that time. But the novel was actually completed later, finished during a time when she needed some release from the anxiety of being a Black editor in a predominantly white publishing house.

Secondly, Morrison places the novel in 1941 at the end of the Great Depression when life was hard for everyone, but even worse for Black people. It is one of the darkest works I have ever read, akin to the pessimistic naturalism of Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie or Emile Zola's Germinal. I say this for four reasons which will be developed at length: (1) Morrison's images of the earth herself as a barren or sterile mother; (2) her parallel images of society/culture as a stifling force with no help or compassion strong enough to redeem its members; (3) her development of feminine invisibility and mutilation as a paradigm for minimal human existence; and

____________________
From New Dimensions of Spirituality: A Biracial and Bicultural Reading of the Novels of Toni Morrison. © 1987 by Karla F. C. Holloway and Stephanie A. Demetrakopoulos. Reproduced with permission of Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc., Westport, CT.

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