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The Bluest Eye

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Author: Toni Morrison

Published: September 6th 2005 by Plume (first published June 1st 1970)

Format: Paperback , 216 pages

Isbn: 9780452287068

Language: English


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The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison's first novel, a book heralded for its richness of language and boldness of vision. Set in the author's girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America. In the a The Bluest Eye is Toni Morrison's first novel, a book heralded for its richness of language and boldness of vision. Set in the author's girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America. In the autumn of 1941, the year the marigolds in the Breedloves' garden do not bloom. Pecola's life does change- in painful, devastating ways. What its vivid evocation of the fear and loneliness at the heart of a child's yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment. The Bluest Eye remains one of Toni Morrisons's most powerful, unforgettable novels- and a significant work of American fiction.

30 review for The Bluest Eye

  1. 5 out of 5

    Samadrita

    Just a few days ago I happened to have a conversation with someone (quite a 'well-read' person too) who said quite casually, almost in an offhand manner, how he found books written by women 'uninteresting'. On prodding him for the reason behind his 'disinterest', he replied that 'books written by women just do not engage' him. I didn't have the heart to ask him why a second time. And there it sat between us, this knowledge of his disdain for women writers (for some hitherto unknown reason), like Just a few days ago I happened to have a conversation with someone (quite a 'well-read' person too) who said quite casually, almost in an offhand manner, how he found books written by women 'uninteresting'. On prodding him for the reason behind his 'disinterest', he replied that 'books written by women just do not engage' him. I didn't have the heart to ask him why a second time. And there it sat between us, this knowledge of his disdain for women writers (for some hitherto unknown reason), like a breathing, venom-spitting, invisible monster quietly killing our conversation (thankfully!). No evasion. Not even a half-hearted attempt at rescuing an uncomfortable situation. A wholly unabashed, flat out declaration made with the confident, self-righteous air of a reader who knows what good reading should consist of and, when it comes to that, exclude. In retrospect, when I dwell on the memory of this horrendous, very real conversation, I experience a crushing hopelessness. It's not that particular guy I am mad at. No. He is only a minuscule part of the universal malady afflicting our collective psyche. It is this spirited tolerance for continued ignorance and apathy that infuriates me so. This tradition of belittling the female voice which speaks of personal sexual gratification, love, marriage, and childbirth, of the tyranny of beauty that forces her to adhere desperately to some predetermined standard of physical perfection - the right angle to her cheekbones, the right slope to her nose, the right lushness to her eyelashes, the right curve to her hips, the right skin color to match her hair and her eyes. All of this is terribly uninteresting isn't it? "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. The master had said, 'You are ugly people.' They had looked about themselves saw nothing to contradict the statement; saw, in fact, support for it leaning at them from every billboard, every movie, every glance. 'Yes,' they had said, 'You are right.' And they took the ugliness in their hands, threw it as a mantle over them, and went about the world with it." So what if she is a Nobel laureate? So what if she created the most haunting, poignant and unforgettable elegy to the horrors that American slavery spawned? So what if she has crafted an eleven-year-old, ugly and unfortunate Pecola Breedlove with the utmost sincerity? So what if she has made her ugly and unfortunate Pecola yearn for a shred of love and dignity in vain till her last days? So what if she has tried to shed some light on the unloved, the mercilessly trodden upon rejects of a community caught in the vicious trap of fatal self-loathing? So what if she has thought up a newer way to deconstruct the violence of a sexual crime by removing the convenient 'glamour of shame' routinely heaped on the victim? So what if she has tried to bestow humanity even on the ones beyond redemption? So what if she has offered a window into a world where a million and one injustices compete for primacy every moment? Such trifling womanly subject matters do not mesh well with the reading tastes of a man! After all, the Doris Lessings and Elfriede Jelineks, Nadine Gordimers and Alice Munros, Zora Neale Hurstons and Zadie Smiths, the Jhumpa Lahiris and the Banana Yoshimotos, the Brontë sisters and Virginia Woolfs, write/wrote books for only women to read and appreciate. 'Women can't paint, women can't write...' It hurts to know that the Charles Tansleys of the world are alive and well. But, thankfully, we have the Toni Morrisons to restore some balance.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Summer

    Toni Morrison doesn't get the respect she deserves and has rightfully earned. I think that part of this has to do with the unfortunate connotations people have regarding Oprah's Book Club and part of it stems from, if not outright racism and misogyny, than the racist and misogynist assumptions that Morrison is popular only because she is a nonwhite woman, liberal guilt etc. The latter is false: Toni Morrison has won the Pulitzer and the Nobel because she is an excellent author. N.B. - Before I ge Toni Morrison doesn't get the respect she deserves and has rightfully earned. I think that part of this has to do with the unfortunate connotations people have regarding Oprah's Book Club and part of it stems from, if not outright racism and misogyny, than the racist and misogynist assumptions that Morrison is popular only because she is a nonwhite woman, liberal guilt etc. The latter is false: Toni Morrison has won the Pulitzer and the Nobel because she is an excellent author. N.B. - Before I get jumped on by total strangers for making assumptions about Morrison's detractors, these are actual comments about her books, from Amazon.com: "Toni Morrison is the most overrated author in America, it's only because of Oprah (the most overrated "personality" in America") that she is popular." "You know, I know blacks have had a hard time in this world...I'm not naive...but there's a right and wrong way to tell us about your problems. This book is an example of the wrong way. To me it came off as preachy and heavy-handed." "Once again, Toni Morrison puts an assortment of diatribes and racial angst into book form and masquerades it as literature with a moral message." "What is actually between the covers of the book is 150 pages of the gross aspects of sex and femine hygene. That is not what makes brillant writing." "The Bluest Eye does not celebrate the beauty of the black individual but instead simply and grotesquely trashes white characteristics (i.e. blonde-straight hair/blue eyes.) So if a little blonde-haired blue-eyed girl reads this book is she supposed to feel ashamed to have these characteristics?" "I think it's terrible that Oprah Winfrey would recommend a book as anti-white as this. It's not as bad as some "black" literature that blames everything on white people, but it's close." It's foolish to assume that the thoughts and experiences of women and of nonwhite American citizens is not worthy of writing about, and reviewers that slam the book as "anti-white" completely miss the point of themes of cultural hegemony, internalized hatred, taboos in beauty and sexuality, oppression, etc. And it's just darned lazy to discount this book's beautiful use of multiple narratives and excellent turns of phrase. Morrison's literature often makes me angry and depressed, but not as angry and depressed as some of the reviews it gets.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    Toni Morrison is one of my favorite authors. I discovered her writing with Beloved for which have a copy signed by her at a reading in Brooklyn of Jazz decades ago. In The Bluest Eye, she looks at the intersection of racism, self-hatred, poverty, and sexuality with realism and her beautifully descriptive writing style. The book starts off with one of Toni Morisson's typically powerful opening lines: Quiet as it’s kept, there were no marigolds in the fall of 1941. We thought, at the time, that it Toni Morrison is one of my favorite authors. I discovered her writing with Beloved for which have a copy signed by her at a reading in Brooklyn of Jazz decades ago. In The Bluest Eye, she looks at the intersection of racism, self-hatred, poverty, and sexuality with realism and her beautifully descriptive writing style. The book starts off with one of Toni Morisson's typically powerful opening lines: Quiet as it’s kept, there were no marigolds in the fall of 1941. We thought, at the time, that it was because Pecola was having her father’s baby that the marigolds did not grow. (loc. 110) We see this flower analogy towards the end of the novel again. Beautiful but hopeless prose: Our innocence and faith were no more productive than his lust or despair. (loc. 118) as well as There is really nothing more to say—except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how. (loc. 121) A beautiful metaphor for living in a racist society: Being a minority in both caste and class, we moved about anyway on the hem of life, struggling to consolidate our weaknesses and hang on, or to creep singly up into the major folds of the garment. (loc 235) I liked the feminist message in this paragraph on how girls are given dolls to instruct them subconsciously in their future roles as caretakers (thus why I didn't buy dolls for my daughter): I was interested only in humans my own age and size, and could not generate any enthusiasm at the prospect of being a mother. Motherhood was old age, and other remote possibilities. I learned quickly, however, what I was expected to do with the doll: rock it, fabricate storied situations around it, even sleep with it. Picture books were full of little girls sleeping with their dolls. Raggedy Ann dolls usually, but they were out of the question. I was physically revolted by and secretly frightened of those round moronic eyes, the pancake face, and orangeworms hair. (loc. 265) The beautiful difference between what people think she wants and what she really wants: 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 something on Christmas day. The real question would have been, “Dear Claudia, what experience would you like on Christmas?” I could have spoken up, “I want to sit on the low stool in Big Mama’s kitchen with my lap full of lilacs and listen to Big Papa play his violin for me alone.” (loc. 287) How mass-culture is used to instill a racist hierarchy of beauty and value: 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. (loc. 304) Wow, this is one mean, low-down couch! 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 limited, 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. (loc. 495) Brutal about how we feel we are perceived modifies behavior and thinking and reinforces poverty: 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...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. (loc. 505, 511) How our dreams eventually lose out to reality: 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. (loc. 520) Fascinating, the two Christs here: (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.) (loc. 555) How hate can be self-sustaining: Hating her, he could leave himself intact. (loc. 562) The downward spiral of toxic masculinity: 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. Somehow he could not astound. He could only be astounded. So he gave that up, too. (loc. 565) The eye analogy is, naturally, one of the most important throughout the entire book: Try as she might, she could never get her eyes to disappear. So what was the point? They were everything. Everything was there, in them. All of those pictures, all of those faces. (loc. 599) Pecola was, for me, a truly heartbreaking character: Each night, without fail, she prayed for blue eyes. Fervently, for a year she had prayed. Although somewhat discouraged, she was not without hope. To have something as wonderful as that happen would take a long, long time. Thrown, in this way, into the binding conviction that only a miracle could relieve her, she would never know her beauty. She would see only what there was to see: the eyes of other people. (loc. 616) The problem of peaking too early and being considered a weed instead of a flower: Nobody loves the head of a dandelion. Maybe because they are so many, strong, and soon. (loc. 626) Sad description, but so apt: She looks up at him and sees the vacuum where curiosity ought to lodge. And something more. The total absence of human recognition—the glazed separateness. (loc. 643) There is always humanity and humor in Morisson's work: “Well, this hippo had a ball back in Chicago. Whoa Jesus, ninety-nine!” “How come you always say ‘Whoa Jesus’ and a number?” Pecola had long wanted to know. “Because my mama taught me never to cuss.” “Did she teach you not to drop your drawers?” China asked. “Didn’t have none,” said Marie. “Never saw a pair of drawers till I was fifteen, when I left Jackson and was doing day work in Cincinnati. My white lady gave me some old ones of hers. I thought they was some kind of stocking cap. I put it on my head when I dusted. When she saw me, she liked to fell out.” (p. 729) A poignant description of winter: By the time this winter had stiffened itself into a hateful knot that nothing could loosen, something did loosen it, or rather someone. A someone who splintered the knot into silver threads that tangled us, netted us, made us long for the dull chafe of the previous boredom. (loc. 800) The mystery of racism to children: What was the secret? What did we lack? Why was it important? And so what? Guileless and without vanity, we were still in love with ourselves then. We felt comfortable in our skins, enjoyed the news that our senses released to us, admired our dirt, cultivated our scars, and could not comprehend this unworthiness. (loc. 983) How a town's name can make some people dream: When you ask them where they are from, they tilt their heads and say “Mobile” and you think you’ve been kissed. They say “Aiken” and you see a white butterfly glance off a fence with a torn wing. They say “Nagadoches” and you want to say “Yes, I will.” You don’t know what these towns are like, but you love what happens to the air when they open their lips and let the names ease out. (loc. 1069) This is so beautiful: That is what she herself did. But to find out the truth about how dreams die, one should never take the word of the dreamer. (loc. 1424) as is this: She had not known there was so much laughter in the world. (p. 1498) Ostensibly, this paragraph is about rotting teeth, but it is also about how repeated violence rots out the inside of many, many women: And then she lost her front tooth. But there must have been a speck, a brown speck easily mistaken for food but which did not leave, which sat on the enamel for months, and grew, until it cut into the surface and then to the brown putty underneath, finally eating away to the root, but avoiding the nerves, so its presence was not noticeable or uncomfortable. Then the weakened roots, having grown accustomed to the poison, responded one day to severe pressure, and the tooth fell free, leaving a ragged stump behind. But even before the little brown speck, there must have been the conditions, the setting that would allow it to exist in the first place. (loc. 1501) Such a wise deconstruction of romantic love and physical beauty in society's eyes: Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another—physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion. (loc. 1572) The horror of a white hospital treating black pregnant women: When he got to me he said now these here women you don’t have any trouble with. They deliver right away and with no pain. Just like horses. The young ones smiled a little. They looked at my stomach and between my legs. They never said nothing to me. Only one looked at me. Looked at my face, I mean. I looked right back at him. He dropped his eyes and turned red. He knowed, I reckon, that maybe I weren’t no horse foaling. (loc. 1607) Beautiful description of freedom: They were, in fact and at last, free. And the lives of these old black women were synthesized in their eyes—a purée of tragedy and humor, wickedness and serenity, truth and fantasy. (loc. 1794) One of Toni's more ingenious sentences in this wonderful novel: Only they would know how to connect the heart of a red watermelon to the asafetida bag to the muscadine to the flashlight on his behind to the fists of money to the lemonade in a Mason jar to a man called Blue and come up with what all of that meant in joy, in pain, in anger, in love, and give it its final and pervading ache of freedom. (loc. 2076) I had to look up 'Moirai' which turns out to mean 'the Fates': Public fact becomes private reality, and the seasons of a Midwestern town become the Moirai of our small lives. (loc. 2395) Incredibly powerful passages continued: I thought about the baby that everybody wanted dead, and saw it very clearly. It was in a dark, wet place, its head covered with great O’s of wool, the black face holding, like nickels, two clean black eyes, the flared nose, kissing-thick lips, and the living, breathing silk of black skin. (loc. 2433) A little black girl yearns for the blue eyes of a little white girl, and the horror at the heart of her yearning is exceeded only by the evil of fulfillment. (loc. 2659) Even her waking dreams we used—to silence our own nightmares. And she let us, and thereby deserved our contempt. We honed our egos on her, padded our characters with her frailty, and yawned in the fantasy of our strength. (loc. 2676) The sad fate of Pecola: We substituted good grammar for intellect; we switched habits to simulate maturity; we rearranged lies and called it truth, seeing in the new pattern of an old idea the Revelation and the Word. She, however, stepped over into madness, a madness which protected her from us simply because it bored us in the end. (loc. 2680) A beautiful, sad ending: And Cholly loved her. I’m sure he did. He, at any rate, was the one who loved her enough to touch her, envelop her, give something of himself to her. But his touch was fatal, and the something he gave her filled the matrix of her agony with death. Love is never any better than the lover. Wicked people love wickedly, violent people love violently, weak people love weakly, stupid people love stupidly, but the love of a free man is never safe. There is no gift for the beloved. The lover alone possesses his gift of love. The loved one is shorn, neutralized, frozen in the glare of the lover’s inward eye. (loc 2683) This book should probably be considered post-modern in the sense that the narration moves from character to character and it is up to the reader to intuit the speaker and the time at which the action is happening. True love as represented by the blue eyes and blond hair seen in the movies frequented by Frieda and Claudia as well as Pauline and most of all, Pecola, is as inaccessible as their parents' understanding leading them to either steel themselves against feeling like their mothers have or go insane: Pauline: "It would be for her the well-spring from which she would draw the most destructive emotions, deceiving the lover and seeking to imprison the beloved, curtailing freedom in every way." As Wright and Ellison had described as well, life in the North was not a safehaven free from racism. Cholly was just as invisible in Ohio as he would have been in Mobile. The White ticket counter is still forbidden him when he buys his ticket to see his father. His Aunt and the women that raised him "ran the house of white people, and knew it. When white men beat their men, they cleaned up the blood and went home to receive abuse from the victim." The cycle of violence feeds on itself leading to tragic consequences for each of the characters. In today's amerikkka of immigration quotas, race-baiting, and continued white police-on-black violence, The Bluest Eye still remains as relevant today as when Toni Morrison published it in 1970 - 23 years before 1993, the year she was justly awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. It really is a must read. Fino's Toni Morrison Reviews: The Bluest Eye Sula Song Of Solomon Tar Baby Beloved Jazz Paradise

  4. 5 out of 5

    brian

    well, i'm experiencing severe bookface fatigue and wasn't gonna report on this until i read this cool-as-shit bookster's review: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/36813 she checked out the reviews on amazon for the bluest eye and listed some excerpts: "Toni Morrison is the most overrated author in America, it's only because of Oprah (the most overrated "personality" in America") that she is popular." "You know, I know blacks have had a hard time in this world...I'm not naive...but there's a right well, i'm experiencing severe bookface fatigue and wasn't gonna report on this until i read this cool-as-shit bookster's review: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/36813 she checked out the reviews on amazon for the bluest eye and listed some excerpts: "Toni Morrison is the most overrated author in America, it's only because of Oprah (the most overrated "personality" in America") that she is popular." "You know, I know blacks have had a hard time in this world...I'm not naive...but there's a right and wrong way to tell us about your problems. This book is an example of the wrong way. To me it came off as preachy and heavy-handed." "Once again, Toni Morrison puts an assortment of diatribes and racial angst into book form and masquerades it as literature with a moral message." "What is actually between the covers of the book is 150 pages of the gross aspects of sex and femine hygene. That is not what makes brillant writing." "The Bluest Eye does not celebrate the beauty of the black individual but instead simply and grotesquely trashes white characteristics (i.e. blonde-straight hair/blue eyes.) So if a little blonde-haired blue-eyed girl reads this book is she supposed to feel ashamed to have these characteristics?" "I think it's terrible that Oprah Winfrey would recommend a book as anti-white as this. It's not as bad as some "black" literature that blames everything on white people, but it's close." people are dicks. yeah, not too controversial. genocide and war and rape and stalin and the crusades and inquisition and blah fucking blah. yeah, i know. we also have amnesty international and the sistine chapel and mexican food and rosario dawson. but you read the above and kinda wish that the fear and war-mongerers are right and that iran would just nuke out the whole planet. ahem... anyway. i'm not here to answer the jackass prickfucks who find the bluest eye to be racist or 'anti-white' or a 'masquerade'... they're just idiots. it's this whole oprah thing. i mean... these are the same kinds of fools who get very smug and happy attacking the literary canon while sucking off equally canonized 'outsiders' such as hunter thompson, thomas pynchon, DFW, etc... (writers i enjoy but have no illusion that they're any more the outsider than is john updike) -- in other words: people who feel it's any different to deliberately swim against the stream as it is to swim with it. so. all you haters of oprah's bookclub. a favor. please. just SHUT UP ALREADY. or is it just so irritating that oprah put leo tolstoy on the nytimes best seller list? and faulkner? and garcia marquez? yeah, that's some evil shit. i mean, getting hockey moms to read the road rather than some shit with fabio on the cover (sorry hockey moms) has gotta be up there with the alien and sedition act in terms of evils perpetrated on the good citizens of this country.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rowena

    "Being a minority in both caste and class, we moved about anyway on the hem of life, struggling to consolidate our weaknesses and hang on, or to creep singly up into the major folds of the garment. Our peripheral existence, however, was something we had learned to deal with--probably because it was abstract."- Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye I'm rereading Morrison's books in chronological order in 2016 and I created a private group here on Goodreads for a few of us who are interested in doing the "Being a minority in both caste and class, we moved about anyway on the hem of life, struggling to consolidate our weaknesses and hang on, or to creep singly up into the major folds of the garment. Our peripheral existence, however, was something we had learned to deal with--probably because it was abstract."- Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye I'm rereading Morrison's books in chronological order in 2016 and I created a private group here on Goodreads for a few of us who are interested in doing the same thing. Discussing this book with others has been very interesting because we all have different perspectives and can share them, expanding our own understanding of the book, it's been a great experience. It's been four years since I first read The Bluest Eye and I was extremely touched and saddened by it the first time around. I count it as one of my favourite Morrison books and I'm glad to say that after a reread it's still very much so. I'm trying hard to find the words to describe how I feel about this book and it's still hard because it's a gut-wrenching book which I love, though "love" sounds like the wrong word for it: how can I love a book that is filled with so much pain, sadness and grief? This book condenses so much tragedy, despair and sadness in a relatively small space. What do you focus on? It can get a bit overwhelming. Morrison's advice seems to be: "There is really nothing more to say--except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how." Whenever I discuss this book with people I know, Pecola is often the first name that comes up. Pecola, the poor, unloved child who prayed for blue eyes. It was hard not to draw comparisons between her and Celie (The Colour Purple), another abused black girl who was called ugly by all those around her. And I think of all the little black girls I've known who hated being black, who hated their hair, their noses, their eye colour, who prayed for "good hair", lighter skin complexion etc. Morrison shows the vulnerability of children so well, and the consequences of parents not telling them what they need to know in enough detail, which results in them being forced to draw conclusions on their own. What they aren't told, they glean from observations and discussions with each other. Sometimes the truth isn't known until they are older: "My mother's anger humiliates me; her words chafe my cheeks, and I am crying. I do not know that she is not angry at me, but at my sickness." There are so many parts of the book that show children as voiceless, black children in particular. There's the issue of representation and how the white dolls our parents thought we wanted probably did more harm than good. I think this is an important book in revealing the other America. My book had an afterword by Morrison which I'm so glad I read. I had no idea that this book was inspired by a conversation she'd had with an elementary school friend who prayed for blue eyes. It's conversations like this that never leave you, it seems, but it might take you until you are an adult to understand the true meaning of what those words held and what they say about our society. Like Malcolm X asked, "Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet?" "And twenty years later I was still wondering about how one learns that. Who told her? Who made her feel that it was better to be a freak than what she was? Who had looked at her and found her so wanting, so small a weight on the beauty scale?...I focused, therefore, on how something as grotesque as the demonization of an entire race could take root inside the most delicate member of society: a child; the most vulnerable member: a female."- Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye afterword

  6. 5 out of 5

    Thu

    When we finished this book, about half the class--- including me--- were infuriated at Morrison for humanizing certain characters that caused Pecola to suffer the most. "Is she saying what they did was okay?! Is she telling us they weren't to blame and we should feel sorry for them?!" I remember writing my "objective" and "tone-neutral" in-class essay while trying to stifle my own feelings of resentment. I know now that the answers to those two questions were no and no. What Morrison wanted us t When we finished this book, about half the class--- including me--- were infuriated at Morrison for humanizing certain characters that caused Pecola to suffer the most. "Is she saying what they did was okay?! Is she telling us they weren't to blame and we should feel sorry for them?!" I remember writing my "objective" and "tone-neutral" in-class essay while trying to stifle my own feelings of resentment. I know now that the answers to those two questions were no and no. What Morrison wanted us to do was not pardon the terrible acts of her characters, or brush them off as "simply tragedy" but to understand where these characters came from psychologically, and what made them the the way they are. People are driven by motivations, sometimes selfless, sometimes self-serving, and sometimes cruel. When I think about this now, I'm absolutely floored. I don't think any work of fiction has ever taught me this huge a lesson about human nature than this one. Morrison is a brilliant writer and this will probably always be one of my favorite novels.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kenny

    4.5/5 “Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another--physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion.” Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye I have several reading goals for 2019 ~~ get some big books off my Want to Read list, explore more Asian writing, and visit authors I have missed along my reading journey. One of the most glaring omissions on this list was Toni Morriso 4.5/5 “Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another--physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion.” Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye I have several reading goals for 2019 ~~ get some big books off my Want to Read list, explore more Asian writing, and visit authors I have missed along my reading journey. One of the most glaring omissions on this list was Toni Morrison. So, with the advice of my friend, Rowena, I selected THE BLUEST EYE to right that wrong. I am wowed by Morrison's writing talents. I wish I'd have ventured to her world sooner. THE BLUEST EYE may well be the saddest book I have ever read. Upon finishing this novel I felt like I'd been sucker punched. The events that took place in this world were devastating. Morrisson's novel is as far from the childhood world Ray Bradbury created in Dandelion Wine as imaginable. Both took place in the Midwest in the late 20's / early 30's, and focus on childhood. This, is where the similarities end. As painful as this book is to read at times, it is a beautifully written novel. Morrison is a poet at heart. The story is told by a minor character, Claudia, a young girl and friend of Pecola’s; her innocence offers a rawness to the story that would have been lost if narrated by Pecola or an older character. Morrison brilliantly uses the passing of the seasons to tell this story. Each season take place in a different time period and follows a different character in her or his life; we learn the back stories of Pecola's people through this. In the final pages of this book, we see how all these people make up parts of Pecola’s story. Morrison writes of race better than any other writer I can think of. She touches not on race in general, but writes about various themes regarding race here, the central theme being that Pecola’s desire for blue eyes is showing the social context that views blue eyes, which in this case is the epitome of whiteness, as the standard of beauty. Every girl black or white should strive to be like Shirley Temple. Morrison also deftly writes on parenting and family dynamics. When Claudia faces an unwanted event in her home, her parents act swiftly to protect their daughter. When a far more tragic event happens to Pecola, her mother beats and blames her. The main theme of THE BLUEST EYE is not simply racism, but internalized racism. The main characters in Morrison's novel have been conditioned to believe in their own inferiority. No one suffers this more than Pecola. Even members of her own race put her down for being ugly and for the darkness of her skin. In the end, Morrison forces us to walk in Pecola's shoes and learn of the painful world she inhabits, and she does so brilliantly.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    365. The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison The Bluest Eye is a novel written by Toni Morrison in 1970. Morrison, a single mother of two sons, wrote the novel while she taught at Howard University. The novel is set in 1941 and centers around the life of a young African-American girl named Pecola who grows up during the years following the Great Depression in Lorain, Ohio. Due to Pecola's harsh characteristics and dark skin, she is consistently regarded as "ugly". As a result, she develops an inferiority c 365. The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison The Bluest Eye is a novel written by Toni Morrison in 1970. Morrison, a single mother of two sons, wrote the novel while she taught at Howard University. The novel is set in 1941 and centers around the life of a young African-American girl named Pecola who grows up during the years following the Great Depression in Lorain, Ohio. Due to Pecola's harsh characteristics and dark skin, she is consistently regarded as "ugly". As a result, she develops an inferiority complex, which fuels her desire for the blue eyes she equates with "whiteness". The point of view of the novel switches between the perspective of Claudia MacTeer, the daughter of Pecola's foster parents, and a third-person narrator with inset narratives in the first person. Due to controversial topics in the book including racism, incest, and child molestation, there have been numerous attempts to ban it from schools and libraries. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز هشتم ماه سپتامبر سال 2008 میلادی عنوان: آبی ترين چشم؛ نویسنده: تونی موریسون؛ مترجم: نیلوفر شیدمهر؛ علی آذرنگ (جباری)؛ تهران، دریچه، 1385؛ در 264ص؛ شابک 9648072043؛ موضوع: داستانهای سیاهان - ایالات متحده - سده 20 م عنوان: آبی ترين چشم؛ نویسنده: تونی موریسون؛ مترجم: کیومرث پارسای؛ تهران، نشر علم، 1385؛ در 310ص؛ شابک 96484056205؛ موضوع: داستانهای سیاهان - ایالات متحده - سده 20م هشدار برای آنها که کتاب را هنوز نخوانده اند، اگر میخواهید کتاب را بخوانید لطفا سطرهای پایانی این نوشتار را نخوانید ...؛ راوی داستان، دخترکی با صداقت، و صمیمیت کودکان نابالغ است؛ زندگی خانواده‌ ی: «بریدلاو»؛ شخصیت محوری اصلی اثر: «پکولا بریدلاو»، از همین خانواده ‌ی محروم و آواره سر درمیآورد؛ پکولا بریدلاو، دختری ست که به تازگی دوران بلوغ را تجربه کرده، او در خانواده ‌ای با نگرش‌ها، رفتارها، و کردارهای پر از تضاد، چشم به جهان گشوده، که اعضای آن تنها در هم‌نژاد بودن و هم‌خانواده بودن اشتراک دارند؛ اعضای خانواده، ستمی دوگانه ـ از سوی نژاد برتر و پدر خانواده ـ را بردوش خود همواره احساس می‌کنند؛ و این ستم را بیش از همه پیکر نحیف و بی‌گناه «پکولا»، دختر نوجوان بی‌دفاع، تحمل میکند؛ پدر، یک‌بار خانه را آتش میزند و افراد خانواده را آواره و بیخانمان میکند؛ یک‌بار نیز، دنیایی از درد و رنج را بر سر دختر بیچاره خویش آوار میکند؛ دختر با آرزویی بزرگ در دل: اینکه چشمانی آبی، هم‌چون دخترکان سفیدپوست داشته باشد، زنده میماند؛ او آبیترین چشمان دنیا را میخواهد؛ ا. شربیانی

  9. 5 out of 5

    Felice Laverne

    ...his mother did not like him to play with niggers. She had explained to him the difference between colored people and niggers. They were easily identifiable. Colored people were neat and quiet; niggers were dirty and loud...The line between colored and nigger was not always clear; subtle and telltale signs threatened to erode it, and the watch had to be constant. While I was not the biggest fan of Morrison's style in this novel, I did fully appreciate the dagger-sharp insight that she brought t ...his mother did not like him to play with niggers. She had explained to him the difference between colored people and niggers. They were easily identifiable. Colored people were neat and quiet; niggers were dirty and loud...The line between colored and nigger was not always clear; subtle and telltale signs threatened to erode it, and the watch had to be constant. While I was not the biggest fan of Morrison's style in this novel, I did fully appreciate the dagger-sharp insight that she brought to the color caste system that is so prevalent in African-American culture, even today. Her dialogue rang so true, I could hear it coming directly out of my mother's mouth, my grandmother's mouth, and those of all of the women who've ever filled our kitchens with raucous communal fun and glum communal tragedy alike. Her use of the Dick & Jane children's books, used for decades to teach children to read (SEEMOTHERMOTHERISVERYNICEMOTHERWILLYOUPLAYWITHJANEMOTHERLAUGHSLAUGHMOTHERLAUGHLA) created a chilling, ironic and staggering contrast between the lives of the whites and those of the blacks in this novel. Shirley Temple, Mary Jane candies, and Jean Harlow hairstyles - you'll find the delicacy of all of them here, both in these characters' reality and in metaphor. While the truth and injustices here were often sobering to read, they were filled with too much truth to rightfully deny or turn away from. I could spend hours discussing this novel. I could quote from it all day, but I won't do that, because the entire read was poignant and so crisply aware of the color line - the how and the why - that there is no one point that can overshadow another in the message that these words aimed to send. This novel is older than I am, and yet it still rings with such verity, with such biting truth and reality. With The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison cut open the existence of both internalized and externalized racism in America and laid it bare and exposed at our feet. For that, she deserves nothing but reverence and applause, so she will always have that from me. Anyone who's ever been in doubt of a color line in Black America should read this book. Anyone who's ever questioned, "But why can't I say those words when you say them all the time? But why do you still believe that racism exists? Why can't you just get over it - the past is the past?" should read this book. In fact, just read this book anyway - how about that? :) *****

  10. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Contemplative and saturated with sorrow, The Bluest Eye reflects on the devastating emotional toll of colorism, poverty, and sexism. In her debut novel Morrison explores the hopes and frustrations of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove, a destitute Black girl living in Ohio who longs to be blonde-haired and blue-eyed, as well as the inner lives of her family members and fellow townsfolk, whose pasts and presents are full of pain. Misery laces nearly every facet of the story, starkly contrasting the Contemplative and saturated with sorrow, The Bluest Eye reflects on the devastating emotional toll of colorism, poverty, and sexism. In her debut novel Morrison explores the hopes and frustrations of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove, a destitute Black girl living in Ohio who longs to be blonde-haired and blue-eyed, as well as the inner lives of her family members and fellow townsfolk, whose pasts and presents are full of pain. Misery laces nearly every facet of the story, starkly contrasting the writer’s lyrical prose, and after many devastating episodes the plot collapses in irreversible tragedy, with Pecola consumed by self-hatred and abused by all in her life.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Read By RodKelly

    Here is the little black girl. She has dreams and a fertile imagination. She is a potential conduit for excellence in the world. But she is the inheritor of pathological trauma that is centuries old. She is born to parents who are too busy licking their wounds and tending to their own pain to extend anything resembling love in her direction. So she believes she is unlovable, and is subsequently rendered invisible and therefore a perfect target to absorb the abuses of a society of self-hating, op Here is the little black girl. She has dreams and a fertile imagination. She is a potential conduit for excellence in the world. But she is the inheritor of pathological trauma that is centuries old. She is born to parents who are too busy licking their wounds and tending to their own pain to extend anything resembling love in her direction. So she believes she is unlovable, and is subsequently rendered invisible and therefore a perfect target to absorb the abuses of a society of self-hating, oppressed people who need to pour their sorrows into the vessel with the most cracks: the innocent (in their eyes, contemptible) black girl. Never realizing that people who don't love themselves can never love anybody else. So her cracks multiply and she breaks apart and spills over and she gets blamed for not being pristine by the very people who broke her. "This soil is bad for certain kinds of flowers. Certain seeds it will not nurture, certain fruit it will not bear, and when the land kills of its own volition, we acquiesce and say the victim had no right to live. We are wrong, of course, but it doesn't matter. It's too late."

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sean Barrs

    I’ve read a lot of fucked things in literature, though it is extremely rare that I read something so messed up that it makes me hate the book. It takes a lot to put me off. I read Lolita without any complaints about the paedophilia because sometimes it is necessary to show despicable things in order to create art. I’ve read stage pieces by Sarah Kane which involve genital mutilation and all sorts of brutal sex acts, but, again, it was necessary for the piece. Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus centr I’ve read a lot of fucked things in literature, though it is extremely rare that I read something so messed up that it makes me hate the book. It takes a lot to put me off. I read Lolita without any complaints about the paedophilia because sometimes it is necessary to show despicable things in order to create art. I’ve read stage pieces by Sarah Kane which involve genital mutilation and all sorts of brutal sex acts, but, again, it was necessary for the piece. Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus centres on a very brutal rape, that much so that people fainted when it was performed (and that was in 2014 at Shakespeare’s Globe in London), though it was needed for the nature of the revenge plot. However, sometimes the brutality can be a little too much. This book contains an explicit child rape scene and vivid animal cruelty. Granted, you could make the same argument to defend The Bluest Eye as I did for the texts I mentioned above though, for me, it was just too awful to read. The scenes held absolutely nothing back. I am not a person easily shocked or put off by such things, though it was too much even for me. The Republic of Wine is the only other book to make me feel this unnerved (because of baby cannibalism.) It made me want to vomit as the writing here did. The Bluest Eye was way too much for me. It was overly symbolic, melodramatically brutal and displayed no hope or optimism. I did not enjoy a single page.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    I saw this tweet a couple of weeks ago: "Going through life white, male, middle-class and American is like playing a video game on easy mode." For those of us born into this: how many chances do we get to fuck things up and still come out just fine? An almost infinite amount, apparently. Toni Morrison wants those of us born with that winning life-lotto combo ticket to experience the opposite of that life track in a world that encompasses, in her words, "the far more tragic and disabling conseque I saw this tweet a couple of weeks ago: "Going through life white, male, middle-class and American is like playing a video game on easy mode." For those of us born into this: how many chances do we get to fuck things up and still come out just fine? An almost infinite amount, apparently. Toni Morrison wants those of us born with that winning life-lotto combo ticket to experience the opposite of that life track in a world that encompasses, in her words, "the far more tragic and disabling consequences of accepting rejection as legitimate, as self-evident." Where life begins in pain, in rejection, in constant on-going humiliation and self-loathing. The ego doesn't ever have a chance. The Bluest Eye provides a window into this world - a viewpoint so that a Reader can see it for all of its ugliness and marvel at those, like Morrison, that overcome this environment and become a thing of beauty. If you are white male upper-middle class American - a state senator from Alabama with power and a national audience, why would you want to call for the banning of this book, one you have certainly never read? It's fear. This work that Morrison has created: a story of darkness, of hopelessness and of a reality that a white male middle-class American could never come close to understanding is a thing of beauty; the lily that grows in the mound of shit. It speaks truth, it kills the demons by just naming them and it reminds the Reader that for some the miracle of living can be a living nightmare. Mr. Holtzclaw wants a world where we won't be told of these realities. I don't want to live in that world.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Susanne Strong

    Many tears were shed while reading “The Bluest Eye” by the great Toni Morrison. During this time of turmoil and strife, I went into this read with a heavy heart and it got oh so much heavier. It was however necessary. There is so much to learn and I thank Ms. Morrison for opening my tear-filled eyes. This novel explores racism, poverty, assault, and so much more. It is a heart-wrenching story about Pecola Breedlove, an African American girl living in Lorain, Ohio in 1941, who desperately wants t Many tears were shed while reading “The Bluest Eye” by the great Toni Morrison. During this time of turmoil and strife, I went into this read with a heavy heart and it got oh so much heavier. It was however necessary. There is so much to learn and I thank Ms. Morrison for opening my tear-filled eyes. This novel explores racism, poverty, assault, and so much more. It is a heart-wrenching story about Pecola Breedlove, an African American girl living in Lorain, Ohio in 1941, who desperately wants to be beautiful. Even her schoolmates Freida and Claudia, whose lives aren’t exactly easy, would describe Pecola as ugly. For these African American girls, who are given white dolls, with blond hair and blue eyes, beauty is skewed. Pecola would do anything to have “The Bluest Eye”, to be seen as beautiful. To be loved. For Pecola Breedlove, kind, sweet, lonely, innocent Pecola, recognizes far more than she should at her young age. For Frieda and Claudia, their innocence is slowly taken away bit by bit. Family, friends, relatives, acquaintances. During this time and place. No one had any idea how their actions were taken. No one stopped to think before they took action. Hate is spewed upon those who did not deserve it. Children. Young girls. Innocents. Simply because of the color of their skin. So many passages in this novel hit home. They gave me pause.., and they made tears runneth over. “Long hours she sat looking in the mirror, trying to discover the secret of the ugliness, the ugliness that made her ignored or despised at school, by teachers and classmates alike.” “And something more. The total absence of human recognition—the glazed separateness. She does not know what keeps his glance suspended.” “She has seen it lurking in the eyes of all white people. So. The distaste must be for her, her blackness.” “All of our waste which we dumped on her and which she absorbed. And all of our beauty, which was hers first and which she gave to us. All of us—all who knew her—felt so wholesome after we cleaned ourselves on her. We were so beautiful when we stood astride her ugliness. Her simplicity decorated us, her guilt sanctified us, her pain made us glow with health, her awkwardness made us think we had a sense of humor. Her inarticulateness made us believe we were eloquent. Her poverty kept us generous. Even her waking dreams we used—to silence our own nightmares. And she let us, and thereby deserved our contempt. We honed our egos on her, padded our characters with her frailty, and yawned in the fantasy of our strength” “The Bluest Eye” is a character driven novel that will leave you with a heavy heart. I recommend this for a book club and it includes difficult subject matters. . To the “Pecola’s” and Breonna’s of this world. I am so very sorry. I vow to keep reading and educating myself so that I can do better. Thank you to Toni Morrison for this incredible novel. Published on Goodreads and Instagram on 6.13.20.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Whitney Atkinson

    tw: domestic abuse, animal abuse & death, incest, pedophilia, rape wow. this is the first book i've read by morrison and i 100% anticipate i'll read more because every other line is so hard hitting and gorgeously phrased with innovative and genius descriptions, as well as insightful and tragic commentary on why the characters feel and act the way they do. this book's discussion of beauty standards and anger and racism were so relevant and well-articulated. it hit right in the sweet spot of not be tw: domestic abuse, animal abuse & death, incest, pedophilia, rape wow. this is the first book i've read by morrison and i 100% anticipate i'll read more because every other line is so hard hitting and gorgeously phrased with innovative and genius descriptions, as well as insightful and tragic commentary on why the characters feel and act the way they do. this book's discussion of beauty standards and anger and racism were so relevant and well-articulated. it hit right in the sweet spot of not being too subtle but also not being preachy; i adored the unfolding of this book's message. the multiple POVs and the way this book's narrative was almost told as a satellite around pecola made for a very well-rounded story that went into far deeper discussion than i was anticipating about family and the way toxicity and self-loathing are inherited and then expounded by society. i highly, highly, highly recommend this!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Fabian

    I wonder who the Mexican Toni Morrison is. Her work is very hard to peg down. It remains a wondrous feat to analyze or define. Alas, rest in peace... A definitive stylist, a poet, Morrison is brilliant. There is one scene deeply ingrained somewhere in the schism that is this beautiful book which will stay with me forever. It involves the main character, a little impressionable girl of color-- & it is through her deep, deplorable suffering that we witness the apathy of mankind. This is not just a I wonder who the Mexican Toni Morrison is. Her work is very hard to peg down. It remains a wondrous feat to analyze or define. Alas, rest in peace... A definitive stylist, a poet, Morrison is brilliant. There is one scene deeply ingrained somewhere in the schism that is this beautiful book which will stay with me forever. It involves the main character, a little impressionable girl of color-- & it is through her deep, deplorable suffering that we witness the apathy of mankind. This is not just a tale of whites versus blacks. Here, African Americans condemn themselves, as people turn against their own, & in portraits as striking as this one the effect feels like dynamite.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    When I read a history of American literature recently I made a note of the great authors I still hadn’t read yet and here are the ones I listed Richard Wright Ralph Ellison Toni Morrison Maya Angelou Alice Walker Wait a moment, these writers are all African American! What’s going on here? Is this a case of #mybookshelvestoowhite? Even the solitary James Baldwin novel I read was Giovanni’s Room- it happens to be all about European white people. Well, I think what happened is that I think I thought I al When I read a history of American literature recently I made a note of the great authors I still hadn’t read yet and here are the ones I listed Richard Wright Ralph Ellison Toni Morrison Maya Angelou Alice Walker Wait a moment, these writers are all African American! What’s going on here? Is this a case of #mybookshelvestoowhite? Even the solitary James Baldwin novel I read was Giovanni’s Room- it happens to be all about European white people. Well, I think what happened is that I think I thought I already had been exposed to so many fictional representations of black America, from movies and tv - the great films of the late John Singleton, the Hughes Brothers and Spike Lee, plus brilliant tv series Homicide and The Wire and documentaries like 13th and Ken Burns’ documentary Jazz, which neatly brings me to music – no one needs to be told how the popular music of the last 100 years has been propelled forward by the engine of black creativity. So I guess I thought I didn’t need to read these books too. So I thought that might be a little bit lazy, a little bit complacent, and decided to start fixing that with Toni Morrison. It was a good start. This is a tough minded short novel. It contains several scenes of nasty sex including rape. It’s all about black self-loathing, internalized racism, so that’s why right at the beginning there is a grisly excerpt from a book for little white kids all about the lovely things they might encounter : See Jane. She has a red dress. She wants to play. Who will play with Jane? See the cat. It goes meow-meow. See Father. He is big and strong. Father, will you play with Jane? And so on. So, you know, The Bluest Eye is not a happy story. Some will say -another tale of African American woe. And it is, it is. But there was one line which cracked me up. A spiritualist healer type named Soaphead Church gets a visit from a little black girl who asks him to change her eyes from brown to blue. Because blue is beautiful and brown is ugly. He gets mad and sits down to write a formal letter to God. This is how he starts : Dear God The purpose of this letter is to familiarize you with facts which either have escaped your notice, or which you have chosen to ignore. How often I have mentally composed such a letter myself! But never found an appropriate postbox. SOME THINGS DON’T CHANGE MUCH This healer guy Soaphead Church has his own printed cards. They say : If you are overcome with trouble and conditions that are not natural, I can remove them; overcome Spells, Bad Luck, and Evil Influences. Remember, I am a true Spiritualist and a Psychic Reader, born with power, and I will help you. Satisfaction in one visit. … Has the one you love changed? I can tell you why. I will tell you who your enemies and friends are, and if the one you love is true or false. If you are sick, I can show you the way to health. I locate lost and stolen articles. Satisfaction guaranteed. So that is what they were doing in 1929 in a small town in Ohio. Fast forward to 2018 and hop across the Atlantic – here is a card that was put through my letterbox here in Nottingham, England a year ago : SH Abdul Rehman THE MOST RIGHTEOUS TRUTHFUL AFRICAN I can help solve all your problems in your life. I can bring happiness in your life. I can remove black magic, Bad Luck from your life. . Sh Abdul Rehman can also advice you in all your problems which prove to be difficult, Business Difficulties, Love, Marriage or Relations Problems, or your Loved One has left you or Separated from you without giving any reason. I can help you to bring back happiness in your life. RESULT IS 100% GUARANTEED Really, the only difference is that Sh Abdul has a mobile phone number.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Maxwell

    3.5/5 stars I found The Bluest Eye to be structurally disjointed but fluidly written. Each sentence bled into the next, urging the reader to press on amidst a heartbreaking, convicting story of rejection, self-loathing, and ultimately, complete violation. It's not easy, or particularly enjoyable, to read. But Morrison cracks open this sort of taboo topic, choosing to highlight a character whose story often goes untold: that of an ugly, black girl. But Pecola, our main character, doesn't even get 3.5/5 stars I found The Bluest Eye to be structurally disjointed but fluidly written. Each sentence bled into the next, urging the reader to press on amidst a heartbreaking, convicting story of rejection, self-loathing, and ultimately, complete violation. It's not easy, or particularly enjoyable, to read. But Morrison cracks open this sort of taboo topic, choosing to highlight a character whose story often goes untold: that of an ugly, black girl. But Pecola, our main character, doesn't even get to tell her own story. The novel breaks down into seasons, starting with Autumn, and is narrated by a neighbor girl and her sister. As the story progresses, we get backstories on major characters: Pecola's mother, father, and various people in their hometown of Lorain, Ohio. While I loved the prose--there's no denying Morrison's skill with words, especially as this is her first novel--I found myself having trouble fully engaging in the story. As Pecola's story unfolds, we realize that she is helpless to deal with the pain she is going through, and she internalizes it. She isn't even helped by the people in her life who should be able to help her, because they have their own pain to deal with. This isolation Pecola feels kept me at a distance from her, combined with the fact that we don't get to hear from Pecola herself at all. And by the end I was a bit let down. During the afterword of the novel, written by Morrison herself, she says regarding the structure, "My solution--break the narrative into parts that had to be reassembled by the reader--semed to me a good idea, the execution of which does not satisfy me now. Besides, it didn't work: many readers remained touched but not moved." I think, therein, lies my exact problem with this book. That isn't to say that this book isn't worth reading, or that it doesn't achieve anything that it sets out to achieve. Instead, I felt so detached and confused by the structuring of the story, that I missed out on the emotion that was being expressed. It's an excellent novel, nonetheless, but it's also a first one; I anticipate in reading more of Morrison, I will grow to understand her writing, as I often do in reading more from the works of an author. And I would argue, as many people recommended to me, it's a good place to start with Morrison.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sabra

    I just read this today, and the rating system really doesn't apply to my feelings, which are still fresh, on this book : "I like it" "I really liked it", etc. I have NO idea how to rate this book. I didn't like the book. As the author herself states in the afterward, "...this is a terrible story about things one would rather not know anything about." But at the same time, the story is engrossing, I found the back stories interesting, and really fell in love with the three little girls. Though som I just read this today, and the rating system really doesn't apply to my feelings, which are still fresh, on this book : "I like it" "I really liked it", etc. I have NO idea how to rate this book. I didn't like the book. As the author herself states in the afterward, "...this is a terrible story about things one would rather not know anything about." But at the same time, the story is engrossing, I found the back stories interesting, and really fell in love with the three little girls. Though some of the varying voices that tell their stories don't flow as well in telling their story, the character development is really amazing. The point of view through innocence in the girls makes the horrors and injustices all the more...horrific and upsetting. This book evoked strong emotions in me, which, according to the author, was the point. She did that job well. I feel a strong sense of loss, disgust, revoltion, sadness, and frustration at not knowing how to "fix" things. So how do you rate that?

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jean-Luke

    China, Poland and Miss Marie (also known as The Maginot Line) are surely three of the finest whores in literature. Sure, why not start with that. But they are only three of the gorgeous characters that populate this gorgeous book. This was my first Toni Morrison--it was Toni Morrison's first Toni Morrison--and since she continued writing I will continue reading what she wrote. I initially struggled with this book because I had Pecola in my mind as the protagonist (I officially I hate back cover China, Poland and Miss Marie (also known as The Maginot Line) are surely three of the finest whores in literature. Sure, why not start with that. But they are only three of the gorgeous characters that populate this gorgeous book. This was my first Toni Morrison--it was Toni Morrison's first Toni Morrison--and since she continued writing I will continue reading what she wrote. I initially struggled with this book because I had Pecola in my mind as the protagonist (I officially I hate back cover book summaries) and the narrative seemed to stray quite a bit, encompassing an entire family, an entire community in Lorain, Ohio, and beyond.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Helene Jeppesen

    I feel so bad for not liking this book, because I know I'm in the minority, and because I know it deals with some very very important topics! I think it's important that books like these exist, because we need to remember that problems like these exist. That being said, I strongly disliked the execution of this story. Nothing in this book inspires hope; it's 100% full of brutality, loss, heartbreak and lots of other heavy and heart-breaking topics, and to be honest, I felt like it was way too ov I feel so bad for not liking this book, because I know I'm in the minority, and because I know it deals with some very very important topics! I think it's important that books like these exist, because we need to remember that problems like these exist. That being said, I strongly disliked the execution of this story. Nothing in this book inspires hope; it's 100% full of brutality, loss, heartbreak and lots of other heavy and heart-breaking topics, and to be honest, I felt like it was way too overdone. I almost couldn't breathe when reading this because it kept telling about disaster after disaster. I needed a little glimpse of hope somewhere, but I didn't get it. This book is said to be very poetic, and I agree with that. However, once again I felt like it was done in an exaggerated manner. Almost every second sentence had a deeper meaning, and while it was beautiful to read in the beginning, it became too much in the end. Furthermore, Toni Morrison chose to mix together genres and perspectives, and I didn't feel a connection with any of the characters despite what they were going through. I love beautiful prose and stories with serious topics, but I didn't like this one one bit. I had a very hard time getting through the mere 200 pages of "The Bluest Eye". The two stars are given because of the glimpses of beautiful prose and the ever-important topics that this book deals with, but all in all I can't say that this was a great reading experience.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Connie Kuntz

    Pecola. That's her name. Her name bothered me the first time I read it. Pecola. How do you even pronounce it. It's...ugly. Slowly, but surely, I understood that was the point. Or at least a point among many wicked-but-important points in The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Pecola herself would never be pretty, would never be understood. No one would ever be able to shorten or lengthen her name into a cute nick. Her hair, her eyes, her countenance, her life, would never be considered more than an in Pecola. That's her name. Her name bothered me the first time I read it. Pecola. How do you even pronounce it. It's...ugly. Slowly, but surely, I understood that was the point. Or at least a point among many wicked-but-important points in The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Pecola herself would never be pretty, would never be understood. No one would ever be able to shorten or lengthen her name into a cute nick. Her hair, her eyes, her countenance, her life, would never be considered more than an insult, not only to herself, but to her people, too. Pecola, trapped in poverty, was mercilessly teased by her peers, raped and impregnated by her father and judged by her elders. Eventually, Pecola went crazy and was last seen digging through the garbage by her old childhood "friend", one of the narrators of the novel. The narrators acknowledge the superior tone of The Observer, a concept I had never considered. The listener/watcher/reader is a powerful person, so I will be more careful of what and how I share from now on. Or, maybe just less caring. That's it. Pecola herself, never experiences self-superiority, which I believe is the first time I have ever noticed such a phenomena. Most characters, especially underdog protagonists, experience some sort of self-superiority (however deluded) at some point in their "character arc." Even when she is coerced/tricked into harming a cat and a dog in two separate but bizarre incidents of what I consider male-domination, she is neither elevated nor deflated by the moment. Instead, she is motivated by achieving superiority by getting blue eyes. That is interesting to me. All of The Bluest Eye is interesting to me. The cruelty and evil that lurk inside the realm of survival and desire is explored beautifully and almost unbearably. Pecola's desire for having the bluest eyes in the world reminded me of some of my absurd goals and I am once again reminded to reassess my values. That's not a bad thing to do once in awhile or, in my case, on a regular basis.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    4.5 stars A powerful and disturbing book about the damaging effects of eurocentric beauty standards and the tremendous negative impacts of racism. My friend and I just talked about this Twitter thread ("is he hot or is he just white with a visible jawline and/or blue eyes?") right before I read The Bluest Eye. Toni Morrison captures this dynamic of internalized racial self-loathing so well. With vivid prose, she interrogates how glorifying white skin and blue eyes harms black girls and turns them 4.5 stars A powerful and disturbing book about the damaging effects of eurocentric beauty standards and the tremendous negative impacts of racism. My friend and I just talked about this Twitter thread ("is he hot or is he just white with a visible jawline and/or blue eyes?") right before I read The Bluest Eye. Toni Morrison captures this dynamic of internalized racial self-loathing so well. With vivid prose, she interrogates how glorifying white skin and blue eyes harms black girls and turns them against one another. Through developing the main characters of this book, the Breedlove family, in a rich and detailed way, Morrison also investigates the repercussions of intergenerational trauma, rape and incest, and more. My heart hurt so much for these characters even as my mind admired Morrison's skill as a writer. She holds nothing back in her books, and neither should we as we fight to diversify our media and show how all bodies deserve love and respect, not just white ones, thin ones, etc. Highly recommended to Morrison fans and to those who care about societal beauty ideals, race and the family, and the social transmission of trauma and abuse.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Algernon (Darth Anyan)

    “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Toni Morrison's debut novel is for me a fitting illustration of the truth behind the Hemingway quote above. A painful, uncomfortable, provocative, depressing story that is nevertheless more honest and real than most of the books I've read this year. In a foreword written two decades after first publication, the author expresses some misgivings about the structure of the novel and about how Pecola, the main characte “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Toni Morrison's debut novel is for me a fitting illustration of the truth behind the Hemingway quote above. A painful, uncomfortable, provocative, depressing story that is nevertheless more honest and real than most of the books I've read this year. In a foreword written two decades after first publication, the author expresses some misgivings about the structure of the novel and about how Pecola, the main character, may be lacking in relevance for larger issues of racial identity, her story too particular to lend itself well to generalities. For me, like in the case of Carson McCullers, these flaws in execution may be the very things that convinced me of the sincerity of the feelings described, and the idiom flavored prose more expressive and authentic than later, more polished books (I'm thinking of Home , the only Morrison book I've read before this one). The main theme, that of self-esteem, identity and prejudice, is as relevant today as it was in 1941 (when the action is placed) or in 1965 (when the book was first published). Only last week I've read in the news about a shameful Fox News debacle on the colour of Father Christmas (and of Jesus) skin. Why can't we have a black Santa? Why would it be considered ugly? an abomination? The standards of beauty imposed by fashion magazines and MTV shows may be more inclusive today in terms of skin colour, but they remain as radical and as dangerous for children and teenagers who are not tall, skinny, 'blue eyed'. Don't even start me on Miley Cyrus as a role model ... Back to Pecola Breedlove: a little black girl who wanted to rise up out of the pit of her blackness and see the world with blue eyes. . The whole world is telling her she is ugly, worthless, pityful, and Pecola is not strong enough to contradict it and to fight for herself. It is the artist role to be her advocate, to feel her pain, her despair, and to shout it out for all to hear : ... there are some who collapse, silently, anonimously, with no voice to express or acknowledge it. They are invisible. The death of self-esteem can occur quickly, easily in children, before their ego has 'legs', so to speak. Couple the vulnerability of youth with indifferent parents, dismissive adults, and a world, which, in its language, laws, and images, re-enforces despair, and the journey to destruction is sealed. says Morrison in the foreword. I have seen this credo of the artist as the burning, bleeding conscience of his/her generation before (Samuel R Delany comes to mind) but rarely with such intensity and clarity as in the case of Toni Morrison. The story of Pecola reads more like a parable than a reportage, with the outcome made clear right from the start, extensive use of metaphoric language and a fatalistic inevitability that harks back to the Greek tragedies. Most of the novel is told through the eyes of Frieda and Claudia, two black girls growing up in Larain, Ohio in 1941, witnessing the drama unfolding in the Breedlove family, fighting spirits both but yet too young to be able to do anything about their friend. They plant some flower seeds in the barren earth of their neighborhood (marigolds as a symbol for love and understanding?), but their good intentions amount to nothing: Our innocence and faith were no more productive than his lust or despair. What is clear now is that of all that hope, fear, lust, love, and grief, nothing remains but Pecola and the unyielding earth. Cholly Breedlove is dead; our innocence too. The seeds shriveled and died; her baby too. There is really nothing more to say - except why. But since 'why' is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in 'how'. The following account is non-linear, broken in pieces, jumping back and forth in the timeline and moving around to other locations, passed through from one character to another in an almost haphazard manner, yet coming round by the finish line to Pecole and the marigolds refusing to bloom. Many factors contribute to the little girl's downfall, yet the lion's share of blame should probably be placed firmly at her parents door: Pauline and Cholly Breedlove have a disfunctional relationship that hurts their children more than their own calloused and already defeated souls. Polly takes refuge in the fantasy world of cinema and believes her children should conform to the burgeois standards of the white class: Into her son she beat a loud desire to run away, and into her daughter she beat a fear of growing up, fear of other people, fear of life. Cholly is a drunkard who keeps everything inside, unable to express himself other than though violence, regularly beating his wife and terorizing the children. He pities his daughter, but the way he chooses to manifest his emotion is more than horrible. Another abuser is a certain Whitcomb, an Anglophile mullato con man and a pervert who poses as a priest and a dream interpreter. Pecola finds more understanding and kindness in the rooms of destitute whores living in the apartment above than in her own family. What is interesting about all the adults in the story is that behind all their despicable actions, they are not actually corrupted in their own eyes. Pauline was at one time happy in her house chores and even in her passion for Cholly. Cholly was once a free spirit, a fighter and a tender husband. Whitcomb believes he is doing a service to the community, even to the underage girls he fondles. They all find some way to rationalize their failures. The autor goes to great lengths to show their human frailty instead of condemning them outright, leaving the task of moral judgement on the shoulders of the reader: Have I looked down instinctively on someone on account of their race (Romanian Gypsies are quite horribly treated today both in Romania and in Europe)? Have I judged people hastily, without trying to walk some miles in their shoes? Maybe. Will I do it again, after reading this book? Probably: the feelings of euphoria and goodwill tend to evaporate in time under the pressure of mundane preoccupations. But I hope some kernel of truth will remain, and who knows, maybe some marigolds will bloom in my own garden. My final quote is I believe an illustration of the fact that we do not need to be perfect, we need only to make an effort and to keep learning about the world and the people around us, no matter how old we are in years: Love is never better than the lover. Wicked people love wickedly, violent people love violently, weak people love weakly, stupid people love stupidly, but the love of a free man is never safe. There is no gift for the beloved. The lover alone possesses his gift of love. The loved one is shorn, neutralized, frozen in the glare of the lover's inward eye. Let us love wisely, for once! Thank you, Mrs. Morrison for the remainder.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Aubrey

    4.5/5 I had my share of body hatred while growing up, but it would be foolish to believe that a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, skinny white girl has the same problems as those who diverge in any of the four descriptives. After all, we are talking a physicality that differs in very few respects from the type idealized by the Nationalist Socialist German Workers' Party, and in the land of the whites and the home of the bleach, that phenotype means power. Just last week, one of my professors commented on 4.5/5 I had my share of body hatred while growing up, but it would be foolish to believe that a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, skinny white girl has the same problems as those who diverge in any of the four descriptives. After all, we are talking a physicality that differs in very few respects from the type idealized by the Nationalist Socialist German Workers' Party, and in the land of the whites and the home of the bleach, that phenotype means power. Just last week, one of my professors commented on her constant well-dressed appearance with "I can't wash this off," scrubbing at her hand as synecdoche for how her African heritage had chosen to display itself. Sixty years ago that choice in clothing was just as politically charged, for to dress well and not be white was an open invitation to getting the living shit beaten out of you. As you can see, the white supremacy is a canny thing, always knowing how to change its skin. Four to five hundred years or so ago, the science of race was invented to excuse the existence of slavery in the face of religious humanity and social equality. Since then, the country of the United States was invented, taught to children as a "cultural melting pot" that flenses them from schoolyard to mass media and back again. It is an easy process: bully any who diverge into a morass of self-hatred, let others who are of the flock accessorize with the dehumanized divergence, then commercialize until all that is left of a human heritage is white people consumption. Jazz, Hinduism, bindis, yoga, rap, sushi, greeted with raging disgust and vitriolic hatred unless, of course, you're white. Then by all means, consume away. There's no danger in your representation. Only oppression. It would be allegory if the entire machinery of the US Government didn't single out the chosen sacrifices based on the color of skin and the inheritance of creed, but it does. It would have aged badly if cultural appropriation wasn't an imperialistic practice that takes the existence of others as the latest "fad" for a blonde-haired and blue-eyed persona, but it is. I'm talking dark-skinned girls bleaching their skin, I'm talking the violation of civilizations for the pursuit of a hobby, I'm talking a disconnect between an entire host of souls from their bodies that makes the incest in this book ugly and a white man raping his three-year-old daughter legally acceptable in the US as of 2014. Toni Morrison wrote this book while people were killing themselves to keep themselves aligned with "respectability politics" of white fashion; today, every white person wants dreadlocks. Shit on something long enough and it's yours for the commercial taking, so long, of course, you look a certain way. If you dehumanize someone because they don't look like blonde-haired blue-eyed white-skinned skinny-assed me, you are utter, fucking, goddamn trash. It's as simple as that.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    “There can’t be anyone, I’m sure, who doesn’t know what it feels like to be disliked, even rejected. Momentarily or for sustained periods of time,” Toni Morrison stated in her author note, as she explained the context of this novel. Imagine a Nobel Laureate reading her work, and then explaining her art. I listened to this via Audible and I was spellbound. Inflections with each character switch and mood, exquisite dialogue performance—I might as well have been in the same room with her. The bluest “There can’t be anyone, I’m sure, who doesn’t know what it feels like to be disliked, even rejected. Momentarily or for sustained periods of time,” Toni Morrison stated in her author note, as she explained the context of this novel. Imagine a Nobel Laureate reading her work, and then explaining her art. I listened to this via Audible and I was spellbound. Inflections with each character switch and mood, exquisite dialogue performance—I might as well have been in the same room with her. The bluest eye. Oh what great use of personification. This story, laden with historical and literary context, is narrated by young Claudia and follows three black girls: Claudia, Frieda, and Pecola. Raised in small town Ohio following the Great Depression and during a time laced with blatant racism and segregation, let’s just say, the girls were the bearers of grown folks’ wrath. Pecola’s parents are indifferent towards her. She must call her mom, Mrs. Breedlove, while the blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl her mother takes care of, calls her Polly. When Pecola sees the same mother who beats and yells at her oohing and aahing at the little girl, the blue eyes become her way of wanting to be acknowledged. Maybe if she had blue eyes… Later, the bluest eye will play a role after Pecola goes through a horrific ordeal and we get to hear from her directly. Pauline Breedlove (Pecola’s mother) on the other hand, loves her job as a housekeeper because she gets to escape her life with the abusive husband, poverty, and invisibility. In her world, no one notices or acknowledges her: the black woman. Shopping for her family is a pain. But in her white employers’ world where she must purchase items and make decisions on their behalf, vendors respect her duty and title. At these moments within the story, Claudia’s first person narration veers to a third-person narrator once you start to get into the adults’ heads (like crazy Cholly’s, for example) and more mature issues are raised. Toni Morrison started this story in 1962—working on it while getting her MA. In 1965, it started to take the shape of a book. In elementary school, she had a friend who told her that she wished she had blue eyes. Very blue eyes in a very dark skin? She was repelled by her friend’s desire. With the book she tried to “hit the raw nerve of racial self contempt, expose it, then soothe it.” I’ve never run across an author who writes like Toni Morrison. While reading two of her works simultaneously this week, (I also read Paradise) I noticed her signature style. It’s the good kind of expectation, like buying a Coach purse knowing that there are certain things about it that will not let you down. The lyrical syntax is prolific, the narrator voice oblique, and the story structure will take leaps and bounds. The second half of this book was my favorite. In the beginning, there is a certain voice that pierces the narrative throughout and I wondered what it was (the white house and Jane playing). Towards the end, I understood the art as I heard from Pecola (in a weird, artistic kind of way) and it was a deeply emotional moment.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂

    I've had a look, both on Goodreads & the internet, & I can't find the cover of my ebook edition. I just know it was published post 1993, because it contains the afterward written by Morrison then, in which she proves to be one of her most severe critics. Morrison thought that at the times she lacked the narrative skill to tell the story the way she wanted. I will respectfully disagree, as while Percola's story is terrible in the sense of the almost unrelenting pain & bleakness, it is beautiful w I've had a look, both on Goodreads & the internet, & I can't find the cover of my ebook edition. I just know it was published post 1993, because it contains the afterward written by Morrison then, in which she proves to be one of her most severe critics. Morrison thought that at the times she lacked the narrative skill to tell the story the way she wanted. I will respectfully disagree, as while Percola's story is terrible in the sense of the almost unrelenting pain & bleakness, it is beautiful with Morrison's gift of language & her ability to create believable characters. Percola's story broke my heart. Percola's belief that she would be beautiful & loved if only she had blue eyes is heartbreaking. Unloved, unwanted & neglected, Percola based her idea of beauty on what she could see - the readers available at school featured white children, dolls were white dolls. Her friend Claudia had a totally different reaction to the white dolls, but Percola lacked the McTeer sisters' toughness &, I would say, certainty of their place in the world. You never get the feeling that the end is going to be anything, but tragic for poor Percola & it is impossible not to be moved by her story. Read with both Women's Classic Literature Enthusiasts Group & the BLK Group June/July Reading Challenge. https://wordpress.com/view/carolshess...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Reggie

    The greatest writer I've ever read, an icon, the G.O.A.T., started her literary career in a fashion that is more brilliant than I even imagined. This is a novel that speaks volumes in an era where certain people will still try & blame the young girls involved instead of an R&B singer who will remain unnamed. Further thoughts to come... The greatest writer I've ever read, an icon, the G.O.A.T., started her literary career in a fashion that is more brilliant than I even imagined. This is a novel that speaks volumes in an era where certain people will still try & blame the young girls involved instead of an R&B singer who will remain unnamed. Further thoughts to come...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rebbie

    Please don’t be surprised to see that I gave this 5 stars. Toni Morrison has a Pulitzer and a Nobel, and she deserves them both. Precious few people can write like she does. Dare I say it, but only a few times in a generation are we lucky enough to have a writer who was born to put pen to paper. I call her a writer and not a novelist or an author because that would be disrespectful to her talent. Unfortunately, there are those who have read this book and act as if Toni Morrison is blaming the enti Please don’t be surprised to see that I gave this 5 stars. Toni Morrison has a Pulitzer and a Nobel, and she deserves them both. Precious few people can write like she does. Dare I say it, but only a few times in a generation are we lucky enough to have a writer who was born to put pen to paper. I call her a writer and not a novelist or an author because that would be disrespectful to her talent. Unfortunately, there are those who have read this book and act as if Toni Morrison is blaming the entire Caucasian community for the plight of one young African-American girl, and nothing could be further from the truth. This is such a silly idea that it doesn’t even deserve to take up space in this review, but I’m mentioning it because there are people who say they hate this book simply because it is about a little girl who suffers deeply, and all because she happens to be African-American. How unfair to abused children, regardless of their skin color. Maybe these people just don’t get it. Or maybe they’re inbred. I have a friend whom I suspect might be a little inbred, and she’s not racist, so that’s no excuse. No excuse at all. Rather than provide a synopsis, I’ll add this paragraph from The Bluest Eye which sums up perfectly the depth and beautiful sorrow that this book possesses: “All of our waste which we dumped on her and which she absorbed. And all of our beauty, which was hers first and which she gave to us. All of us–all who knew her–felt so wholesome after we cleaned ourselves on her. We were so beautiful when we stood astride her ugliness. her simplicity decorated us, her guilt sanctified us, her pain made us glow with health, her awkwardness made us think we has a sense of humor. Her inarticulateness made us believe we were eloquent. Her poverty kept us generous. Even her waking dreams we used–to silence our own nightmares. And she let us, and thereby deserved our contempt. We honed our egos on her, padded our characters with her frailty, and yawned in the fantasy of our strength.” -Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye That quote is about an 11 year-old girl, so please keep that in mind if you decide to read this. It is intense and you will probably cry. Most people do. I read this book several years ago, and it is so well-written that I find myself remembering vivid details about it all these years later. What a tragic yet poetic story this is, and one that will hopefully capture your heart like it did mine.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Edward

    The most insidious form of prejudice is the one that's internalised and self-directed. The Bluest Eye examines the ways in which latent cultural measures of beauty and self-worth can become reinforced and self-perpetuating. White people figure rarely in the narrative, and yet whiteness is pervasive as the very currency of self-worth: a means of defining value, and of establishing one's own superiority over others. The novel digs out the dirt to examine the roots of this behaviour, but provides n The most insidious form of prejudice is the one that's internalised and self-directed. The Bluest Eye examines the ways in which latent cultural measures of beauty and self-worth can become reinforced and self-perpetuating. White people figure rarely in the narrative, and yet whiteness is pervasive as the very currency of self-worth: a means of defining value, and of establishing one's own superiority over others. The novel digs out the dirt to examine the roots of this behaviour, but provides no comfortable resolution for the reader. This was my first Toni Morrison novel (and hers too). A beautiful and devastating book.

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