ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Bluest Eyes by Toni Morrison, an Analysis

Updated on February 19, 2012
lee custodio profile image

Lee is a freelance researcher and writer for six years. She is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Management

The Bluest Eyes by Toni Morrison, First edition
The Bluest Eyes by Toni Morrison, First edition | Source

The Bluest Eyes is a novel by Toni Morrison about a young African American girl named Pecola Breedlove living in the mid-1900s American society where racial prejudice against the black people is still very high. Pecola is darker than any other girl and is seen as ugly by most, this led her to believe that she is indeed ugly. It was through this premise that the novel was able to weave other social issues as racism, incest, stereotyping, prejudice, and social classes. By using vivid imagery, Morrison was able to present a very emotionally-charged novel that portrays American culture during the mid-1900s.

The most powerful human emotion that Morrison used constantly throughout the novel is desire. Desire is that strong feeling of yearning for something that goes beyond reason—something that is constant for almost all of the characters. Strong desire for acceptance has motivated and shaped the lives of the characters, in particular of sisters Frieda and Claudia, and Pecola.

The most consistent desire among the black characters is the desire for acceptance—either from the society or from their family. Pecola’s desire for acceptance was evident on the way she was willing to conform to society to the point that she would change her perception and worldview. This is best described during her trip to Mr. Yacobowski’s store. On her way to the store, she passed by some dandelions and as Morrison wrote: “why, she wonders, do people call them weeds” (41). She sees the beauty of the dandelion that the rest of the society does not see. But while in the store, Mr. Yacobowski relentlessly humiliates Pecola and in the end, Pecola, on her way back and upon passing the dandelions again now thinks that “they are ugly...They are weeds” (43). Besides the superficial that Mr. Yacobowski had easily influenced Pecola’s perspective, it is also symbolic on how Pecola sees herself.

Morrison has used the dandelion as a metaphor on how Pecola perceive herself. At first, she sees the hidden beauty that everybody fails to appreciate. But society—as symbolic of Yacobowski easily poisoned her mind and in the end decided that if everyone thinks that dandelion is weed, then it must be so. If everyone thinks of her as ugly and useless part of society, then it must be true. Thus, the desire of Pecola for beauty is actually rooted on her desire to be accepted. This desire is also best encapsulated when Claudia describe a new girl who joined their school, Maureen Peal. Highly envied by Frieda and Claudia:

“She enchanted the entire school. When teachers called on her, they smiled encouragingly. Black boys didn’t trip her in the halls; white boys didn’t stone her, white girls didn’t suck their teeth when she was assigned to be their work partners; black girls stepped aside when she wanted to use the sink in the girls’ toilet, and their eyes genuflected under sliding lids. She never had to search for anybody to eat with in the cafeteria—they flocked to the table of her choice.” (62-63).

I like this passage the most because it is all encompassing. The ‘entire school’ represents the whole of society’s perception regarding beauty. ‘Teachers’ represented the authority, government. Boy and girls meant that beauty not only blurs the distinction between races, but also commands respect and authority regardless of gender. Maureen was symbolic of the ideal beauty—a source of envy that every girl would dream to be like.

Pecola was the exact opposite of the social standard for beauty, thus her desire for beauty goes beyond skin-deep but also boils down to social acceptance. But by conforming to social stereotypes—by desiring to have the bluest eyes, she would finally be beautiful and she would no longer be ridiculed by the people in her community. But by conforming to the white standard of beauty Pecola have lost herself and her identity in the process and ended up more confused and miserable.

The passage is also symbolic of a deeper sense of beauty—of a beautiful life, a life lived beautifully through acceptance of society, authority, and of the people. That living a beautiful life would mean a life devoid of racism, prejudice, poverty, and stereotyping; where social acceptance does not hinge solely on social class but on the person’s character. That indeed is something to be desired for.

Work Cited

Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eyes. New York: Vintage Books, 2007.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)