Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye

By Harold Bloom | Go to book overview

JAN FURMAN


Black Girlhood and Black Womanhood:
The Bluest Eye and Sula

From the beginning of her writing career Morrison has exercised a keen scrutiny of women's lives. The Bluest Eye and Sula, Morrison's first and second novels, are to varying extents about black girlhood and black womanhood, about women's connections to their families, their communities, to the larger social networks outside the community, to men, and to each other. Lending themselves to a reading as companion works, the novels complement one another thematically and may, in several ways, be viewed sequentially. ( Morrison calls her first four novels "evolutionary. One comes out of the other." In The Bluest Eye she was "interested in talking about black girlhood," and in Sula she "wanted to move to the other part of their life." She wanted to ask, "what ... do those feisty little girls grow up to be?") The Bluest Eye directs a critical gaze at the process and symbols of imprinting the self during childhood and at what happens to the self when the process is askew and the symbols are defective. In Sula, Morrison builds on the knowledge gained in the first novel, revisits childhood, and then moves her characters and readers a step forward into women's struggles to change delimiting symbols and take control of their lives. But excavating an identity that has been long buried beneath stereotype and convention is a wrenching endeavor, and Morrison demonstrates in Sula that although recasting one's role in the community is possible, there is a price to be paid for change.

____________________
From Toni Morrison's Fiction. © 1996 by the University of South Carolina Press.

-183-

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