The Bluest Eye


Toni Morrison

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Themes and Colors
Beauty vs. Ugliness Theme Icon
Women and Femininity Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
Sex and Sexuality Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Bluest Eye, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Beauty vs. Ugliness

The black characters of the The Bluest Eye have been taught to believe that whiteness is the paragon of beauty. The characters are constantly subjected to images of whiteness offered through movies, books, candy, magazines, toys, and advertisements. Early in the novel, Pecola and Frieda gush over Shirley Temple's beauty, and later, Mrs. Breedlove spends her days at the movies admiring the white actresses, wishing she could access their world. The association between beauty and…

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Women and Femininity

At its core, The Bluest Eye is a story about the oppression of women. The novel's women not only suffer the horrors of racial oppression, but also the tyranny and violation brought upon them by the men in their lives. The novel depicts several phases of a woman's development into womanhood. Pecola, Frieda, and Claudia, the novel's youngest female characters, possess a limited and idealistic view of what it means to be a woman…

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Race and Racism

Race and racism are complicated issues in The Bluest Eye. Unlike typical portrayals of racism, involving white hatred against blacks, The Bluest Eye primarily explores the issue of racism occurring between people of color. There are few white characters in Morrison's novel, and no major white characters, yet racism remains at the center of the text. Because the novel involves mostly black characters, "whiteness" exists on a spectrum. Race is not only defined by…

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Home and Family

Home in The Bluest Eye represents more than the physical structure where a family lives. In Morrison's novel, home is an idea that defines the characters' sense of self and self-worth, and likewise, informs the way they are perceived by those around them. The homes depicted in The Bluest Eye are set against an ideal image of home and family, presented in the novel's opening section written in the style of a Dick and Jane…

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Sex and Sexuality

In The Bluest Eye, sex is associated with violence, humiliation, and immorality. Instead of sex being an enjoyable act between two people, sex, like race and beauty standards, works as a form of oppression. For both men and women, sexual initiation has devastating effects on an individual's life and sense of self. The scenes of sexual initiation are particularly violent and humiliating, leaving a lasting effect on the novel's characters.

Cholly's first sexual experience…

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