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Free Study Guide-The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison-Free Online Book Notes
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PLOT STRUCTURE ANALYSIS

The Bluest Eye has perhaps the least controlled plot of Morrison’s novels. Because she chose to portray the ill effects on children of internalized racism, Morrison needed a child protagonist. However, she could not maintain the focus on Pecola Breedlove throughout the entire novel without demonizing Pecola’s antagonists. Therefore, she needed to break the narrative unity of the novel to move from Pecola’s story to her parents’ stories and the stories of other adults and children who influence her life. The novel then is plotted as a series of character vignettes.


Each of these vignettes traces a tragic fall.

The story of Pecola, the wounded little girl who wishes to solve her problems by gaining the racial mark of whiteness, blue eyes, begins in the innocence of that wish and ends tragically in her insanity, a playing out of that wish.

Cholly also begins in innocent. An abandoned child who nevertheless loves the only mother and father figures he has available, but finds them to abandon him too, one by dying and the other by his drinking. Cholly’s hurts as a child are compounded by his hurts as an African-American living in a racist society. His initiation into adult sexuality is perverted by two white men who want to have sexual pleasure at his and his lover’s expense.

The story of Pauline also begins in innocence. As a girl, Pauline wanted someone to love her and after finding someone who would, she was ruined in her thinking by the Hollywood images of beauty and romantic love. She ended up living the constricted morality of respectability, loving her white employers and hating her own family. Pauline and Cholly both emotionally abandon their children. They are so emotionally compromised by the time they become parents, they cannot provide nurturance to their children.

Cholly is further removed from family even than Pauline. His multiple abandonment led him to cut himself loose from all social obligations. He ends up degraded, regularly beating his wife, ultimately raping his daughter, and finally abandoning his own family to die in a work house. Hence, the stories of these three characters are plotted along the tragic line. Each begins in innocence and beauty of spirit and ends hurt beyond repair by their society.

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