This year, as required by the English class curriculum, freshmen read “The Bluest Eye” by Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison. Unlike “Fences” by August Wilson, our previous reading assignment, this book stood out to me, so I didn’t Sparknotes my way through the unit. I actually read the book, and really enjoyed it.
In the novel, Morrison unfolds the story of Pecola, a young black girl failing to navigate the world and breaking under the pressure of her low self-esteem. Morrison uses several different narrators to capture Pecola’s journey, which can be confusing at times. The way she maintains cohesiveness in the novel is with the consistency of her narration style. It is illustrative and poetic, despite the changing perspective, which provides a really delicate contrast between the quality of the prose and what it actually describes.
Some of these narrators are sexual predators. Morrison leads into the scene where Pecola is raped by her father with pages depicting his motivation and background. This results in the reader feeling very conflicted about their sentiment towards the despicable character. I was alarmed at the sympathy I felt for the rapist despite his disgusting actions, because I knew the character as a victim before I knew him as a predator. The rape was recounted from his perspective, so the reader has a better understanding of why he did it. Obviously, that doesn’t justify rape, but I found I was very conflicted and intrigued by how an author was able to elicit that empathy. You don’t really consider the fact that child molesters are people too, and you don’t really want to, but Morrison forces you to ponder this uncomfortable truth.
The point of literature is to take you to places you couldn’t imagine going to, and persuade you to think about things you have difficulty confronting. “The Bluest Eye” does just that. •