The Bluest Eye (Vintage International series) by Toni Morrison. Read online, or download in secure EPUB format. eBooks THE BLUEST EYE A NOVEL TONI MORRISON ACCLAIM FOR Toni Morrison '[Toni Morrison} may be the last classic American writer, squarely in the . I did not write this book, I am mearly sharing it for educational purposes only.

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Read "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison available from Rakuten Kobo. Sign up today and get $5 off your first download. Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl. Editorial Reviews. Review. Oprah Book Club® Selection, April Originally The Bluest Eye (Vintage International) - site edition by Toni Morrison. Download it once site Store; ›; site eBooks; ›; Literature & Fiction. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison's virtuosic first novel asks powerful questions about race.

Propertied 33 black people spent all their energies, all their love, on their nests. Like frenzied, desperate birds, they over decorated everything; fussed and fidgeted over their hardwon homes; canned, jellied, and preserved all summer to fill the cupboards and shelves; they painted, picked, and poked at every corner of their houses.

The discovery of the missing milk sends Mrs. She knows something about being a nurturing mother. The appearance of the Shirley Temple cup brings to the fore the vexing questions about establishing definitions of beauty and right behavior—what standards exist for definitions of beauty, how to consider racial differences in appreciating cultural beauty, and, most importantly, what consequences are associated with living under a dominant definition of beauty that minority peoples can never realize?

In appearance and temperament, Shirley Temple was like the Jane character in the primer, a model child. The blue-and-white cup bearing an image of her happy, dimpled face is one example. Frieda and Pecola share an adoration of Shirley Temple that Claudia at first repudiates.

Claudia confesses that as a child she did not like dolls, despising the ones she got for Christmas from adults who never actually asked her what she would like to have as a gift. She will need to find another way to take her stand against a set of ideals that will always undermine rather than nurture her well-being.

The discovery comes as a shock. The episode has a benign but not fully reassuring ending: The conversation among the three little girls in bed that night is inspired by the events of the day; Pecola wonders how menstruation makes babies possible. I mean, how do you get someone to love you?

In the next section, we see what was formerly the Breedlove family dwelling—as sharp a contrast to the green-and-white house with the red door belonging to Dick and Jane as one could imagine.

Eliot will likely be reminded of scenes from The Waste Land, where the desolation and physical ugliness of modern urban sprawl predominate, and relationships between people are strained at best, sterile at worst, and always transient. The economic realities of the times combined with the less overt northern racism undermined these expectations in many instances.

Trudier Harris writes: The cultural beliefs that inform the storytelling in The Bluest Eye are manifested in a reversal of cultural health for black people, an acquiescence to destructive myths. Morrison creates an environment and a landscape in which infertility is the norm, where values with the potential to sustain have been reversed or perverted, and where few individuals have the key to transcending their inertia.

Her depiction of the cycle of seasons without growth, from autumn to summer, evoke, in their mythological implications, comparisons to the legend of the Fisher King and to the world T.

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Eliot creates in The Waste Land. The novel is a ritualized exploration of the dissolution of culture and the need for an attendant rite of affirmation. Harris, 27 The description of the interior of the Breedlove home suggests and reflects the dysfunctionality of the people who had been living there. The space is so nonnurturing and incommodious that family members are not only unable to relate to one another, they cannot form pleasant associations with the physical features of the house: 37 [The furnishings] were anything but describable, having been conceived, manufactured, shipped, and sold in various states of thoughtlessness, greed, and indifference.

The furniture had aged without ever having become familiar. People had owned it, but never known it. No one had lost a penny or a brooch under the cushions of either sofa and remembered the place and time of the loss or the finding. Cholly Breedlove has an alcoholic stench that sickens his daughter Pecola, and his drinking renders him almost useless around the house. Breedlove thinks of herself as a religious woman, but she is more selfrighteous than religious.

The conflicts impart significant damage to the next generation as well. Sammy Breedlove expresses himself through bursts of murderous rage aimed at his father, and Pecola, staying hidden in bed to escape the sounds of parental fighting, and suffering 38 from nausea that might be an early sign of her pregnancy, asks God to help her become invisible. To this end, she has invented a mental strategy to make each part of her body disappear, except her eyes.

Claudia has two voices in the story. To gain access to the innermost thoughts of Pecola, Morrison also creates the voice of an omniscient narrator. This intermixing of voices with different perspectives from varying time frames is necessary for understanding as fully as possible the causes, influences, and consequences of the various actions her vivid characters take.

At the beginning of the section describing Breedlove family life, Morrison makes clear that this family has one thing in common aside from but connected to their shared dysfunction: The Breedloves did not live in a storefront because they were having temporary difficulty adjusting to cutbacks at the plant.

They lived there because they were poor and black, and stayed there because they believed they were ugly. Although their poverty was traditional and stultifying, it was not unique. But their ugliness was unique. No one could have convinced them that they were not relentlessly and aggressively ugly.

Throughout the novel, Morrison adds to our understanding about why each member of the family has acquired a destructive and self-sabotaging attitude, but it is Pecola she chooses as her focus. She has been explicit about her reasons for concentrating on the character of Pecola. Writing in , critic Stephanie A. Pecola stands for the triple indemnity of the female Black child: children, Blacks, and females are devalued in American culture.

It had occurred to Pecola some time ago that if her eyes. If she looked different, beautiful, maybe Cholly would be different, and Mrs. Breedlove, too. Pecola becomes the object of such a disapproving gaze when she visits the candy store with her three pennies.

Yacobowski, proprietor of his own grocery store and another member of the white immigrant population, impatiently, almost resentfully, waits on Pecola. She gets what she came for—three pieces of the candy called Mary Janes—but is denied what she more importantly needs, friendly human contact.

Mary Jane, the character for whom the candies are named, appears pictured on the wrappers, her pretty, blue-eyed face smiling mischievously. Critic Tracey L. She achieves this by eating Mary Jane candy. It is with these friendly women—not, strikingly, with her own mother or other appropriate adult female—that Pecola feels sufficiently comfortable to ask questions about men, sex, and love. Maureen appears to have no flaws—a condition the sisters find unendurable, so they come up with a nickname for her, transforming Maureen Peal into Meringue Pie, and they learn 42 that she has both an unattractive canine tooth and signs of an early disfigurement on her hands.

Morrison critics in general praise the author for her adeptness at exposing the causes and consequences of class divisions in American society. The appearance of Maureen Peal allows Morrison to make even more potent observations. Morrison clearly. The making of such a divisive hierarchy based on economic status and skin color is harmful to everyone. That they themselves were black, or that their own father had similarly relaxed habits was irrelevant.

It was their contempt for their own blackness that gave the first insult its teeth. They seemed to have taken all of their smoothly cultivated ignorance, their exquisitely learned self-hatred, their elaborately designed hopelessness and sucked it all up into a fiery cone of scorn that had burned for ages in the hollows of their minds—cooled—and spilled over lips of outrage, consuming whatever was in its path.

Claudia and Frieda are also briefly drawn into this unstable quartet. An illuminating detail coloring this scene in the novel is the fact that Claudia had seen her father naked and had found it fascinating but not shameful.

Now, after this incident, she is ashamed of being unashamed. And you ugly! And what did that mean? We were lesser. They are further ennobled by this mature lifesaving insight: All the time we knew that Maureen Peal was not the Enemy and not worthy of such intense hatred. The Thing to fear was the Thing that made her beautiful, and not us. Henry wearing only his bathrobe. He entices them with pennies for ice cream to leave the house so he can have his scheduled private tryst with the prostitutes but is discovered and confronted by the girls returning earlier than he had expected.

Upon being discovered, Mr. Henry turns from the slightly overfriendly boarder into the needy and prurient older man the sisters have intuitively suspected him of being. The sisters lie so they can avoid the harsh realization of an adult exposed to be other than he initially seemed.

They also enjoy Mr. Also emerging in this scene are rumor and gossip surrounding another adult who may also be hiding the truth.

Here they learn. They marry men who appreciate their efforts, and they have children; they tolerate but do not enjoy sex. Joy, in fact, seems fairly absent in all aspects of their lives. The cat gets the only physical attention Geraldine is prepared to give or receive—a relocation of intimacy that deprives her son, Junior, and drives him to acts of cruelty and other behaviors certain to bring about a disturbed and friendless childhood.

Unrestrained in her effort to appear respectable, as others have defined it, she has chosen to adorn the house with a wealth of doilies, houseplants, and framed pictures decorated with fake flowers. Standing, mesmerized by this display, Pecola is startled when Junior suddenly throws the cat at her face, leaving her scratched and frightened. When she tries to flee, Junior displays the kind of frenzied and controlling behavior that, combined with the presumably fatal blow he next inflicts on the cat, is indicative of antisocial pathology.

They were everywhere. They slept six in a bed, all their pee mixing together in the night as they wet their beds. Mbalia writes: When Geraldine sees Pecola, she is reminded of everything she has sought to escape—everything associated with the poor, struggling African masses.

With the wrong conditions or too little nurturing, however, neither twig nor child grows properly. Claudia begins her spring recollections with an instance of sexual violation. Returning from some private time in the long springtime grass, where she has been enjoying imaginative reveries about 48 matters of life and death, Claudia finds things amiss at home.

Henry, deprived of his association with the prostitutes, has molested Frieda by touching her breasts.

Henry actually did and how Frieda felt about it. Papa MacTeer throws a tricycle at Mr. A neighbor rushes in with a gun, in response to the clamor, and Mr.

It also underscores all the more that some individuals, such as Pecola, have no advocates with a stake at protecting their innocence and well-being. The sisters head off to find Pecola, despite their certainty that straying too far from their part of town will not please their mother.

The other dolls, which were supposed to bring me great pleasure, succeeded in doing quite the opposite. When I took it to bed, its hard unyielding limbs resisted my flesh — the tapered fingertips on those dimpled hands scratched. If, in sleep, I turned, the bone-cold head collided with my own. It was a most uncomfortable, patently aggressive sleeping companion. To hold it was no more rewarding. The starched gauze or lace on the cotton dress irritated any embrace. I had only one desire: To see of what it was made, to discover the dearness, to find the beauty, the desirability that had escaped me, but apparently only me.

Adults, older girls, shops, magazines, newspapers, window signs — all the world had agreed that a blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl child treasured. Traced the turned-up nose, poked the glassy blue eyeballs, twisted the yellow hair.

I could not love it. But I could examine it to see what it was that all the world said was lovable. The gauze back would split, and I could see the disk with six holes, the secret of the sound. A mere metal roundness. Grown people frowned and fussed: I-never-had-a-baby-doll-in- my-whole-life-and-used-to-cry-my-eyes-out-for-them.

Tears threatened to erase the aloofness of their authority. The emotion of years of unfulfilled longing preened in their voices.

The Bluest Eye

I did not know why I destroyed those dolls. But I did know that nobody ever asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Had any adult with the power to fulfill my desires taken me seriously and asked me what I wanted, they would have known that I did not want to have anything to own, or to possess any object. I wanted rather to feel The Bluest Eye something on Christmas day. Instead I tasted and smelled the acridness of tin plates and cups designed for tea parties that bored me.

Instead I looked with loathing on new dresses that required a hateful bath in a galvanized zinc tub before wearing. Then the scratchy towels and the dreadful and humiliating absence of dirt. The irritable, unimaginative cleanliness. Gone the ink marks from legs and face, all my creations and accumulations of the day gone, and replaced by goose pimples. I destroyed white baby dolls. But the dismembering of dolls was not the true horror.

The truly horrifying thing was the transference of the same impulses to little white girls. The indifference with which I could have axed them was shaken only by my desire to do so. To discover what eluded me: The eye slide of black women as they approached them on the street, and the possessive gentleness of their touch as they handled them.

When I learned how repulsive this disinterested violence was, that it was repulsive because it was disinterested, my shame floundered about for refuge. The best hiding place was love.

Thus the conversion from pristine sadism to fabricated hatred, to fraudulent love. It was a small step to Shirley Temple.

I learned much later to worship her, just as I learned to delight in cleanliness, knowing, even as I learned, that the change was adjustment without improvement. Three whole quarts. Not a drop. What the devil does any body need with three quarts of milk? The three of us, Pecola, Frieda, and I, listened to her downstairs in the kitchen fussing about the amount of milk Pecola had drunk. My mother knew that Frieda and I hated milk and assumed Pecola drank it out of greediness.

The Bluest Eye Ashamed of the insults that were being heaped on our friend, we just sat there: I picked toe jam, Frieda cleaned her fingernails with her teeth, and Pecola finger-traced some scars on her knee — her head cocked to one side. They were interminable, insulting, and although indirect Mama never named anybody — just talked about folks and some people , extremely painful in their thrust.

She would go on like that for hours, connecting one offense to another until all of the things that chagrined her were spewed out. Then, having told everybody and everything off, she would burst into song and sing the rest of the day. But it was such a long time before the singing part came. Time for me to get out of the giving line and get in the getting line. Look like nothing I do is going to keep me out of there.

Folks just spend all their time trying to figure out ways to send me to the poorhouse. I got about as much business with another mouth to feed as a cat has with side pockets.

Not long as I got strength in my body and a tongue in my head. Bible say watch as well as pray. Look like they would just peep in to see whether I had a loaf of bread to give her. But naw. She could be dead for all he know.

And that mama neither. What kind of something is that? We wanted to miss the part about Roosevelt and the CCC camps. Frieda got up and started down the stairs. Pecola and I followed, making a wide arc to avoid the kitchen doorway.

It was a lonesome Saturday. The house smelled of Fels Naphtha and the sharp odor of mustard greens cooking. Saturdays were lonesome, fussy, soapy days. She would sing about hard times, bad times, and somebody-done-gone-and-left-me times. But without song, those Saturdays sat on my head like a coal scuttle, and if Mama was fussing, as she was now, it was like somebody throwing stones at it. What do they think I am? Some kind of Sandy Claus?

Pecola looked at her feet. We could go thread needles for the half-blind lady. What you want to do, Pecola? She was bored and irritable.

We could make some fudge. With Mama in there fussing? Besides, they say the same old words all the time. The total signified the number of boyfriends I would have.

Bible say feed the hungry. Anybody need three quarts of milk to live need to get out of here. They in the wrong place. What is this?

Some kind of dairy farm? A whinnying sound came from her mouth. Then we both looked where Pecola was staring. Blood was running down her legs. Some drops were on the steps.

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I leaped up. You cut yourself? She kept whinnying, standing with her legs far apart. I know. I know what that is! It just means you can have a baby! Wait here. Sit down, Pecola. Right here. And be quiet, or Mama will hear you. I went into the kitchen. Well, get a glass. Not no clean one neither. Use that jar. It seemed a long time filling. Then everybody got to drink water Lemme take it out.

Pecola was crying. Does it hurt? She had something tucked in her blouse. She looked at me in amazement and pointed to the jar.

You said get some water. Lots of water. To scrub the steps with, dumbbell! How was you. Come on. What about me? I want to go. You wash the steps. I was going to miss something. Here was something important, and I had to stay behind and not see any of it.

I poured the water on the steps, sloshed it with my shoe, and ran to join them. Frieda was on her knees; a white rectangle of cotton was near her on the ground. Step out of them. I picked up the pants with two fingers and looked about for something to dig a hole with. A rustling noise in the bushes startled me, and turning toward it, I saw a pair of fascinated eyes in a dough-white face.

Rosemary was watching us. I grabbed for her face and succeeded in scratching her nose. She screamed and jumped back. Playing nasty, huh? Least I can slaughter them! Whippings wounded and insulted her. Mama looked at Pecola. The safety pin snapped open on one end of the napkin, and Mama saw it fall from under her dress. The switch hovered in the air while Mama blinked.

I, next in line, began to explain. We was just trying to stop the blood! Frieda nodded. We was just helping. Then she pulled both of them toward her, their heads against her stomach.

Her eyes were sorry. Now, stop crying.

The Bluest Eye

Come on, now. Get on in the house. Go on home, Rosemary. The show is over. Mama led us to the bathroom. She prodded Pecola inside, and taking the underwear from me, told us to stay out. We could hear water running into the bathtub. You so dumb. Leave her alone. That night, in bed, the three of us lay still. We were full of awe and respect for Pecola. She was different from us now — grown-up-like. She, herself, felt the distance, but refused to lord it over us.

After a long while she spoke very softly. Then Pecola asked a question that had never entered my mind. I mean, how do you get somebody to love you? It does not recede into its background of leaden sky, nor harmonize with the gray frame houses and black telephone poles around it.

Rather, it foists itself on the eye of the passerby in a manner that is both irritating and melancholy. Visitors who drive to this tiny town wonder why it has not been torn down, while pedestrians, who are residents of the neighbor- hood, simply look away when they pass it. At one time, when the building housed a pizza parlor, people saw only slow-footed teen-aged boys huddled about the corner.

These young boys met there to feel their groins, smoke cigarettes, and plan mild outrages. The smoke from their cigarettes they inhaled deeply, forcing it to fill their lungs, their hearts, their thighs, and keep at bay the shiveri- ness, the energy of their youth.

They moved slowly, laughed slowly, but flicked the ashes from their cigarettes too quickly too often, and exposed themselves, to those who The Bluest Eye were interested, as novices to the habit. But long before the sound of their lowing and the sight of their preening, the building was leased to a Hungarian baker, modestly famous for his brioche and poppy-seed rolls.

Earlier than that, there was a real-estate office there, and even before that, some gypsies used it as a base of operations. The gypsy family gave the large plate-glass window as much distinction and character as it ever had. The girls of the family took turns sit- ting between yards of velvet draperies and Oriental rugs hanging at the windows.

They looked out and occasionally smiled, or winked, or beckoned — only occasionally. Mostly they looked, their elaborate dresses, long-sleeved and long- skirted, hiding the nakedness that stood in their eyes. So fluid has the population in that area been, that proba- bly no one remembers longer, longer ago, before the time of the gypsies and the time of the teen-agers when the Breedloves lived there, nestled together in the storefront.

Each member of the family in his own cell of consciousness, each making his own patchwork quilt of reality — collecting fragments of experience here, pieces of information there.

From the tiny impressions gleaned from one another, they created a sense of belonging and tried to make do with the way they found each other. The plan of the living quarters was as unimaginative as a first-generation Greek landlord could contrive it to be. There was a living room, which the family called the front room, and the bedroom, where all the living was done. In the front room were two sofas, an upright piano, and a tiny artificial Christmas tree which had been there, decorated and dust- laden, for two years.

The bedroom had three beds: In the center of the bedroom, for the even distri- bution of heat, stood a coal stove. The kitchen was in the back of this apart- ment, a separate room. There were no bath facilities. Only a toilet bowl, inaccessible to the eye, if not the ear, of the tenants. There is nothing more to say about the furnishings. They were anything but describable, having been conceived, man- ufactured, shipped, and sold in various states of thoughtless- ness, greed, and indifference.

The furniture had aged without ever having become familiar. People had owned it, but never known it. No one had lost a penny or a brooch under the cushions of either sofa and remembered the place and time of the loss or the finding. I was sitting right there talking to It must have slipped down while I was feeding the baby! No thrifty child had tucked a wad of gum under the table. No happy drunk — a friend of the family, with a fat neck, unmarried, you know, but God how he eats!

There were no memories among those pieces. Certainly no memories to be cherished. Occasionally an item pro- voked a physical reaction: The sofa, for example. It had been pur- chased new, but the fabric had split straight across the back by the time it was delivered. The store would not take the responsibility It was O. Your tough shit.

And the joylessness stank, pervading everything. The stink of it kept you from painting the beaverboard walls; from getting a matching piece of material for the chair; even from sewing up the split, which became a gash, which became a gaping chasm that exposed the cheap frame and cheaper upholstery.

It withheld the refreshment in a sleep slept on it.

It imposed a furtiveness on the loving done on it. Like a sore tooth that is not content to throb in isolation, but must diffuse its own pain to other parts of the body — making breathing difficult, vision lim- 37 ited, nerves unsettled, so a hated piece of furniture produces a fretful malaise that asserts itself throughout the house and limits the delight of things not related to it.

The fire seemed to live, go down, or die accord- ing to its own schemata. In the morning, however, it always saw fit to die. They lived there because they were poor and black, and they stayed there because they believed they were ugly. Although their poverty was traditional and stultifying, it was not unique. But their ugliness was unique. No one could have convinced them that they were not relentlessly and aggressively ugly.

Except for the father, Cholly, whose ugli- ness the result of despair, dissipation, and violence directed toward petty things and weak people was behavior, the rest of the family — Mrs. Breedlove, Sammy Breedlove, and Pecola Breedlove — wore their ugliness, put it on, so to speak, although it did not belong to them. The eyes, the small eyes set closely together under narrow foreheads.

The low, irregular hairlines, which seemed even more irregular in contrast to the straight, heavy eyebrows which nearly met. Keen but crooked noses, with insolent nostrils. They had high cheekbones, and their ears turned forward. Shapely lips 39 which called attention not to themselves but to the rest of the face. You looked at them and wondered why they were so ugly; you looked closely and could not find the source.

Then you realized that it came from conviction, their conviction. It was as though some mysterious all-knowing master had given each one a cloak of ugliness to wear, and they had each accepted it without question.

Dealing with it each according to his way. Breedlove handled hers as an actor does a prop: Sammy used his as a weapon to cause others pain. He adjusted his behavior to it, chose his companions on the basis of it: And Pecola.

She hid behind hers. Concealed, veiled, eclipsed — peeping out from behind the shroud very seldom, and then only to yearn for the return of her mask. This family, on a Saturday morning in October, began, one by one, to stir out of their dreams of affluence and vengeance into the anonymous misery of their storefront. Breedlove slipped noiselessly out of bed, put a sweater on over her nightgown which was an old day dress , and walked toward the kitchen.

Her one good foot made hard, bony sounds; the twisted one whispered on the linoleum. In the kitchen she made noises with doors, faucets, and pans. The Bluest Eye The noises were hollow, but the threats they implied were not. Pecola opened her eyes and lay staring at the dead coal stove.

Cholly mumbled, thrashed about in the bed for a minute, and then was quiet. The noises in the kitchen became louder and less hollow.

There was direction and purpose in Mrs. This awareness, supported by ample evidence from the past, made Pecola tighten her stomach muscles and ration her breath. Cholly had come home drunk. Unfortunately he had been too drunk to quarrel, so the whole business would have to erupt this morning. Because it had not taken place imme- diately, the oncoming fight would lack spontaneity; it would be calculated, uninspired, and deadly. Breedlove came swiftly into the room and stood at the foot of the bed where Cholly lay.

Cholly opened his eyes slowly. They were red and menac- ing. With no exception, Cholly had the meanest eyes in town. Her voice was like an earache in the brain. All right. But if I sneeze once, just once, God help your butt! Pecola still held her stomach muscles taut and conserved her breath. They all knew that Mrs.

Breedlove could have, would have, and had, gotten coal from the shed, or that Sammy or Pecola could be directed to get it. But the unquar- reled evening hung like the first note of a dirge in sullenly expectant air. An escapade of drunkenness, no matter how routine, had its own ceremonial close. The tiny, undistin- guished days that Mrs. Breedlove lived were identified, grouped, and classed by these quarrels. They gave substance to the minutes and hours otherwise dim and unrecalled.

They relieved the tiresomeness of poverty, gave grandeur to the dead rooms. In these violent breaks in routine that were themselves routine, she could display the style and imagina- tion of what she believed to be her own true self. To deprive her of these fights was to deprive her of all the zest and rea- sonableness of life. Cholly, by his habitual drunkenness and The Bluest Eye orneriness, provided them both with the material they needed to make their lives tolerable.

Breedlove consid- ered herself an upright and Christian woman, burdened with a no-count man, whom God wanted her to punish. Cholly was beyond redemption, of course, and redemption was hardly the point — Mrs. Breedlove was not interested in Christ the Redeemer, but rather Christ the Judge. Get him! The lower he sank, the wilder and more irre- sponsible he became, the more splendid she and her task became. In the name of Jesus.

No less did Cholly need her. She was one of the few things abhorrent to him that he could touch and therefore hurt. He poured out on her the sum of all his inarticulate fury and aborted desires. Hating her, he could leave himself intact. When he was still very young, Cholly had been surprised in some bushes by two white men while he was newly but earnestly engaged in eliciting sexual pleasure from a little country girl. The men had shone a flashlight right on his behind. He had stopped, terrified.

They chuckled. The beam of the flashlight did not move. And, nigger, make it good. For some reason Cholly had not hated the white men; he hated, despised, the girl.

Even a half-remembrance of this episode, along with myriad other humiliations, defeats, and emasculations, could stir him into flights of depravity that surprised himself — but only himself. He could only be astounded.

So he gave that up, too. Cholly and Mrs. Breedlove fought each other with a darkly brutal formalism that was paralleled only by their lovemaking. Tacitly they had agreed not to kill each other. He fought her the way a coward fights a man — with feet, the palms of his hands, and teeth. She, in turn, fought back in a purely feminine way — with frying pans and pokers, and occasionally a flatiron would sail toward his head. They did not talk, groan, or curse during these beatings. There was only the muted sound of falling things, and flesh on unsur- prised flesh.

There was a difference in the reaction of the children to these battles. Sammy cursed for a while, or left the house, or threw himself into the fray. He was known, by the time he was fourteen, to have run away from home no less than twenty-seven times. Once he got to Buffalo and stayed three months. His returns, whether by force or circumstance, were sullen. Pecola, on the other hand, restricted by youth and sex, experimented with methods of endurance.

Though the methods varied, the pain was as consistent as it was deep. She struggled between an overwhelming desire that one would kill the other, and a profound wish that she herself could die. Breedlove did. By the grace, no doubt, of God, Mrs.

Breedlove sneezed. Just once. He sat up, choking and The Bluest Eye spitting. Naked and ashen, he leaped from the bed, and with a flying tackle, grabbed his wife around the waist, and they hit the floor. Cholly picked her up and knocked her down with the back of his hand.

He put his foot in her chest, and she dropped the pan. Dropping to his knee, he struck her several times in the face, and she might have succumbed early had he not hit his hand against the metal bed frame when his wife ducked. Breedlove took advantage of this momentary suspen- sion of blows and slipped out of his reach. Breedlove, having snatched up the round, flat stove lid, ran tippy-toe to Cholly as he was pulling himself up from his knees, and struck him two blows, knocking him right back into the senselessness out of which she had provoked him.

Panting, she threw a quilt over him and let him lie. Kill him! Breedlove looked at Sammy with surprise. I need some coal. The sick feeling, which she had tried to pre- vent by holding in her stomach, came quickly in spite of her precaution. There surged in her the desire to heave, but as always, she knew she would not.

Little parts of her body faded away. Now slowly, now with a rush. Slowly again. Her fingers went, one by one; then her arms disappeared all the way to the elbow. Her feet now. Yes, that was good. The legs all at once. It was hardest above the thighs. She had to be real still and pull. Her stomach would not go. But finally it, too, went away. Then her chest, her neck.

The face was hard, too. Almost done, almost. Only her tight, tight eyes were left. They were always left. Try as she might, she could never get her eyes to disap- pear. So what was the point? They were everything. Everything was there, in them.

"Dick-and-Jane Primer" in Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye" as an Aesthetic Device

All of those pictures, all of those faces. She had long ago given up the idea of running away to see new pictures, new faces, as Sammy had so often done.

He never took her, and he never thought about his going ahead of time, so it was never planned. As long as she looked the way she did, as long as she was ugly, she would have to stay with these people. Somehow she belonged to them. God Help the Child Toni Morrison. Home Toni Morrison. A Mercy Toni Morrison. Beloved Toni Morrison. Love Toni Morrison. Jazz Toni Morrison. Paradise Toni Morrison. Song Of Solomon Toni Morrison.

Sula Toni Morrison. Tar Baby Toni Morrison. About the Author. Related articles. Writers reflect on the enduring legacy of Toni Morrison. Read women in Sign up to the Penguin newsletter For the latest books, recommendations, offers and more.

Please enter an email.Readers also enjoyed. What they aren't told, they glean from observations and discussions with each other. Immediately following the first, perfect Dick and Jane sample, the same words are strung together in a smaller font without punctuation.

Text Difficulty: NoViolet Bulawayo. Inflections with each character switch and mood, exquisite dialogue performance—I might as well have been in the same room with her.

LOYD from Portsmouth
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