Author: Toni Morrison
Release Date: 1970
Page count: 206
Genres: Fiction, African American Literature
Themes: Beauty, Whiteness, Seeing vs. Being Seen, Sexual abuse
Where to buy this book:
I read this book as part of my book club pick for the month, and I do not regret choosing this book for the month of March. This book has everything one can hope for: wit, humor, beauty, tragedy, and imagination.
This book focuses on the story of Pecola during the Great Depression. Pecola is a young black girl who has an abusive father and a mother who finds comfort in her job of caring for a white home. Pecola is often mocked for her dark skin and prays for blond hair and blue eyes. In this novel, you read the story of Pecola when she was taken care by another family, learn the backstory of Pecola’s parents, and ultimately, the meaning of beauty, race, and class.
Synopsis by the publisher
Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl, prays every day for beauty. Mocked by other children for the dark skin, curly hair, and brown eyes that set her apart, she yearns for normalcy, for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to finally fit in. Yet as her dream grows more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison’s virtuosic first novel asks powerful questions about race, class, and gender with the subtlety and grace that have always characterized her writing.
You can’t go wrong by reading or re-reading the collected works of Toni Morrison. Beloved, Song of Solomon, The Bluest Eye, Sula, everything else — they’re transcendent, all of them. You’ll be glad you read them.Barack Obama
Important Themes Explained
The distaste must be for her, her blackness. All things in her are flux and anticipation. But her blackness is static and dread. And it is the blackness that accounts for, that creates, the vacuum edged with distaste in white eyes.
This quote speaks on the theme of race after Pecola enters a store to buy candy, she immediately feels prejudiced. I love this quote, because its speaks on how Pecola feels that her blackness is a distaste in the white eyes who view her when she enters the store.
But their ugliness was unique. No one could have convinced them that they were not relentlessly and aggressively ugly.
This quote talks on the theme of beauty. The quote explains that their ugliness was unique in the way that no one could convince that were not ugly. In other words, their ugliness is internalized
Spoilers Without Context:
Do I recommend this book?
Yes I do!! Toni Morrison’s first book does a good job in bringing you into the world in which she creates. Just reading about Pecola’s story makes your heart melt in compassion. The tone of the book reminded me of my childhood of how in the autumn, I would often get a mild cold and my mom would rub vicks onto my chest.
“And in the night, when my coughing was dry and tough, feet padded into the room, hands repinned the flannel, readjusted the quilt, and rested a moment on my forehead. So when I think of autumn, I think of somebody with hands who didn’t want me to die.”
I also related to the way in which I look for imperfections on people who are good looking and rich.
“We looked hard for flaws to restore our equilibrium.”
Things to consider before you choose to read the book:
- This book is separated into four seasons. This helps explaining the passage of time during the novel.
- There is explicit content such as profanity, and sensitive content such as sexual abuse and rape.
- This is Toni Morrison’s first book. I haven’t read any other books by Morrison, but this one is very insightful into the themes of beauty, race, and class.
- Hows the ending you may ask? Grab a box of tissues, and prepare yourself.
- This book is a banned book! This book has been removed from libraries for its use of sex, violence, and rape.
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.
She left me the way people leave a hotel room. A hotel room is a place to be when you are doing something else. Of itself it is of no consequence to one’s major scheme. A hotel room is convenient. But its convenience is limited to the time you need it while you are in that particular town on that particular business; you hope it is comfortable, but prefer, rather, that it be anoymous. It is not, after all, where you live.
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.
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