The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison’s first novel, which I re-read this past week as step one in my plan to follow Rebecca Shinksy’s call to re-read Morrison’s entire backlist. I’ve read Morrison’s first novel before. My copy is leftover from my days at Ohio State and there are some marks on the pages, but not many. A sentence or two underlined, usually over the course of five pages a time, chunks that, clearly, my professor had us focus on. Looking at it now, they seem like the most obvious passages to mark: they are the ones directly addressing the desire for blue eyes in the novel’s tragic character, Pecola Breedlove, the eleven-year-old girl who is raped (and becomes pregnant) by her father.
What I remembered about the novel is a point of pride: I remembered that the same passage I did not like was the same one that, in the afterword, Morrison herself wrote was the least satisfying passage in the book. As an undergrad, I was delighted to learn that my initial response was the same as Morrison’s. This meant I was “correct” and that I “got” the novel. Or, something like that, in the way that I liked to think of the world when I was twenty-one. (more…)