2 The key elements Prologue The narrator Introduction of the main characterClaudia and MaureenCholly and PaulineThe ending
3 The prologueFirst prologue indicates the influence that white media has on black perceptions of worth and beautyThe repetition and lack of punctuation indicates the lack of meaning this image has for PecolaHighlights the contrast between Pecola’s dysfunctional family and the Dick and Jane oneSecond prologue provides an outline of what is to comeSymbolism of marigolds
4 Claudia MacTeerNarrates the novel - allows for childlike view on things, but also adult perspective in hindsightProvides a contrast to Pecola: home, family, attitudeRejection of the white doll indicates her rejection of white standards of beautyHer refusal to worship Maureen highlights her lack of self loathingHer sympathy for Pecola is at odds with the society they live in
5 The Main characterInitial fascination with white beauty shown through her obsession with Shirley TempleMr Yacobowski’s treatment sparks her realisation she is uglyPecola wishes she could be white - Mary JanesHer desire for blue eyes is symbolic of her wish for white beautyDoes not defend herself against insults as she believes she is ugly
6 Claudia and MaureenMaureen illustrates the link between class, colour and social standingShe is worshipped by adults and children alike for her light skin and eyesShe values white beauty - learned from her mother - and negates black valuesClaudia refuses to accept her superiority, unlike most of the other charactersMaureen insults them for their colour
7 Cholly and PaulineThe narrative perspective shifts to allow us to understand how the characters learn their valuesCholly brutalised from young age; traumatic sexual initiation leads to his brutalisation of othersPauline once considered herself beautiful, but her lost tooth and lameness made her bitterShe loves and cares for the white family she work for while rejecting her own family
8 The Ending Loathing of Pecola results in her rape and pregnancy She turns to Soaphead church for the blue eyes she feels will make her happyGains the acceptance she craves in madnessIs literally destroyed by racial self loathingSomehow Morrison ends on optimistic note - suggests things can be different
9 4 circles of control (4 seasons) Physical violence/ intimidation (lynching, rape, gay bashing)Economic discrimination (lower pay, job segregation, lack of access to education)Psychological steroetyping (limiting roles and expectations)self-policing (sub accept and/or act out steroetypes to protect themslves from the doms)
10 ThemesMajor themes include: internalized racism, circle of oppression, romantic love, materialism, religion, the role of parents and what a good parent is, the media, sexuality and how it infuses our lives with joy or hatred, the perils of self-righteousness.
11 Four SeasonsInstead of conventional chapters and sections, The Bluest Eye is broken up into seasons, fall, winter, spring, and summer. This type of organization suggests that the events described in The Bluest Eye have occurred before, and will occur again. This kind of cycle suggests that there is notion that there is no escape from the cycle of life that Breedloves and MacTeer live in.
12 VignettesTherefore, she needed to break the narrative unity of the novel to move from Pecola’s story to her parents’ stories and the stories of other adults and children who influence her life. The novel then is plotted as a series of character vignettes.Each of these vignettes traces a tragic fall.
13 PecolaThe story of Pecola, the wounded little girl who wishes to solve her problems by gaining the racial mark of whiteness, blue eyes, begins in the innocence of that wish and ends tragically in her insanity, a playing out of that wish.
14 ChollyCholly also begins in innocent. An abandoned child who nevertheless loves the only mother and father figures he has available, but finds them to abandon him too, one by dying and the other by his drinking. Cholly’s hurts as a child are compounded by his hurts as an African- American living in a racist society. His initiation into adult sexuality is perverted by two white men who want to have sexual pleasure at his and his lover’s expense.
15 PaulineThe story of Pauline also begins in innocence. As a girl, Pauline wanted someone to love her and after finding someone who would, she was ruined in her thinking by the Hollywood images of beauty and romantic love. She ended up living the constricted morality of respectability, loving her white employers and hating her own family. Pauline and Cholly both emotionally abandon their children.
16 Symbol-marigoldThere are two major metaphors in The Bluest Eye, one of marigolds and one of dandelions. Claudia, looking back as an adult, says in the beginning of the novel, "there were no marigolds in the fall of 1941". She and her sister plant marigold seeds with the belief that if the marigolds would grow and survive, so would Pecola's baby. Morrison unpacks the metaphor throughout the book, and, through Claudia, finally explains it and broadens its scope to all African-Americans on the last page. "I even think now that the land of the entire country was hostile to marigolds that year. Certain seeds it will not nurture, certain fruits it will not bear . . ." The implication is that Pecola, like so many other African-Americans, never had a chance to grow and succeed because she lived in a society ("soil") that was inherently racist, and would not nurture her.
17 Symbol-dandelionThe other flower, the dandelion, is important as a metaphor because it represents Pecola's image of herself. Pecola passes some dandelions going into Mr. Yacobowski's store. "Why, she wonders, do people call them weeds? She thought they were pretty". After Mr. Yacobowski humiliates her, she again passes the dandelions and thinks; "They are ugly. They are weeds". She has transferred society's dislike of her to the dandelions.