In The Bluest Eye, the reader learns the innermost thoughts, visceral feelings and subsequent actions of several people living in 1941. The focus of the book is an 11-year old girl named Pecola Breedlove. She is faced with every possible obstacle, both emotionally and physically. Pecola longs to be beautiful. The world seems dead set against allowing her to feel, see, touch, taste, or love anything of beauty. Morrison convincingly places the burden of responsibility for this robbery on society's images which portray white people and their things beautiful and black people and their things ugly.
My parents raised me in a racist-free house. They didn't just tell me that white people are not different from black people. They didn't only keep our home free of crude, stereotypical jokes based on ethnicity. They didn't simply make sure I didn't think I was better than someone because I had fair skin. They refused to distinguish people based on race. I never heard them describe someone based on their skin color or from where they came. As a result, I am a person who is absolutely horrified by racism. It makes no sense to me. I agree with the horror that shines through Morrison's writing as she paints the picture of racism in this book. I don't claim to understand what it feels like to be the brunt of racism because I've never experienced that. This book gave me a better understanding of what that experience would be like because it vividly describes emotions resulting from having your character judged based on the pigment of your skin. Last I checked, we don't choose the pigment of our skin. I know there is a problem. I see the reason, nonsensical to me as it is. What I longed for as I read the book was a solution.
Morrison repeatedly shows how white people think they are better than black people. What is that? It is pride. C.S. Lewis says, "pride...leads to every other vice...Pride is essentially competititve... Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better looking than others..." History shows that along way white people started feeling richer, cleverer, better looking. The images produced in society reflected that pride and wah-lah! you have racism. As Lewis also says, "A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you."
I am baffled by Morrison's view that this book is somewhat of a failure. She says in the book's Forward, "...many of the readers remain touched but not moved." May you, reader, take up this masterpiece, and be moved. Moved enough to remember in whose image you are made and to look up instead of down.