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The bluest eye by Tonni Morrison

Updated on August 24, 2012

The setting of a literary work often has a significant effect on the protagonist. It does influence his/her mood, his/her behavior, may change the direction of the whole plot. The setting of the work may even influence the outcome of his/her actions. This is proved true while considering the novel The bluest eye by Tonni Morrison. The setting has a significant impact on the protagonist Pecola in Tonni Morrison's The bluest eye. The Bluest Eye is prepared in a wonderful setting that justifies the mood, behavior, actions and fate of the main character Pecola. The setting of the novel has influenced the life of protagonist Pecola. The time, place and the environment of the The Bluest Eye has given birth to the young black girl Pecola who can better be called as a martyr of her circumstances

The bluest eye summary

The bluest eye is about the painful life of a black girl called Pecola who is highly desirous to become beautiful. Pecola was black and considered herself ugly as she lived in a society for which ‘whiteness’ was the only beauty criteria. The poor black girl had fervent wishes to appear beautiful and longed for beautiful blue eyes. However the life was proved to be against Pecola and her desires. She was never successful in attaining beauty and also suffered much mocking and insults because of her black color. Pecola fell into the life of distress as she became pregnant by her father. Al these unbearable incidents collapsed her life and she failed to live in this conscious world. She drowned into the waters of insanity and saved herself from the world where she cannot be pretty and admirable. She moves into the world worst than death; she enters into “the edge of town, where you can see her even now.”The Bluest Eye is prepared in a wonderful setting that justifies the mood, behavior, actions and fate of the main character Pecola. The setting of the novel has influenced the life of protagonist Pecola. The time, place and the environment of the The Bluest Eye has given birth to the young black girl Pecola who can better be called as a martyr of her circumstances.

The bluest eye Analysis

Time setting of The Bluest Eye

The time setting of the novel The Bluest Eye has influenced the thoughts and beliefsets of Pecola the protagonist. The time setting of The Bluest Eye is 1940–1941. The novel appeared in the period that was a crucial period of American civil rights. The author of The Bluest Eye Toni Morrison began working on this novel on 1962 and the work progressed during 1965. This was a period of great struggles and commotion in the American history. Those times were the times of extreme hardship of African Americans in America. Pecola is a typical witness of this turbulent period. These times were the most notorious periods of racial mistrust, segregation, slavery and oppression. Blacks were least privileges and were suppressed to the core. Black women suffered insults and mocking from the white community of those times. Pecola is an example of the black women who endured great hardships during those times. The time period also have coincidence with the childhood period of the author Toni Morrison. Pecola the nine-year old grew up in a period (the year the novel takes place (1941) which is the period when the author herself was a nine-year old child.

Place setting of The Bluest Eye

The place setting of the novel The Bluest Eye has brought big impact on the mind, notion and desires of Pecola the protagonist. The events of the novel The Bluest Eye happened in the place Lorain, Ohio. The setting of the novel is in the place where Pecola the black girl lived. The story happens in the area against the background of America's Midwest (and the period of Great Depression). The place is the real background of racial discrimination and sufferings of the African Americans of those periods. The white dominated society suppressed the minority blacks and made them deprived of even human rights. Blacks of the society, because of their appearance, suffered humiliations and insults. The place was a place of white domination where the blacks were segregated in schools, employment places and other sectors of the society. Black children really had a tough time in schools and other places. These notorious sites of slavery and segregation prepared a hell for the black African Americans. This setting only gave birth to Pecola the scapegoat. This surrounding is the real setting of the tough psyche of black people in the United States. The place of the novel was taken out of the autobiography of the author Toni Morrison. She was brought up in same environment where she had witnessed similar incidents. She had gone through great sufferings during the period of the Great Depression.

Environment setting of The Bluest Eye

The environment setting of the novel The Bluest Eye has highly influenced mood, behavior and attitude of Pecola the protagonist. The environment setting also made a big change in the direction of the whole plot itself. The environment setting of The Bluest Eye also is in accordance with the life of the protagonist character Pecola. She is a typical example of the self-hatred of the black community of those times. The black community (African Americans) believed in their own ugliness. They admired the white color of the whites and desired to be white like them. The blacks of those times had absolutely accepted the white standards of beauty and status. The feelings and thoughts of Pecola justify the life of the African Americans of those times. This same complex engulfed Pecola and collapsed her life. Pecola was a slave to her environment and finally became a martyr for her community. She is a victim of human cruelty, exploitation and suffering. The environment of cruelty, suppression, mocking and exploitation prepared the character Pecola who was finally lost because of this environment.

Morrison’s Bluest Eye - a reflection of the society of that period

Pecola is thus a product of the time, place and environment of the novel The Bluest Eye. She is the indeed the victim of her environment. The restless period of the American Civil Rights (the toughest period for the minority African Americans) was the background of the novel The Bluest Eye. This time period of racial problems and mistrust had influenced the Pecola the main character. The place where the novel is set also justifies the attitude and mind of Pecola the protagonist. In that place Blacks were found subordinate to whites as the segregation was mainly based on the body color. This attitude of the society only made Pecola desiring for a beautiful appearance. In that place white color was the main beauty criteria. Besides time and place, environment also had played a major role in the attitude, action and fate of the nine-year old Pecola. The family and society environment was completely against Pecola. Her society environment presented her extremely bitter experience that shattered all her dreams. The humiliation and mocking of the society only made Pecola dream for a beautiful appearance. Society environment is finally responsible for plight of young Pecola.

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    • sanjay-sonawani profile image

      Sanjay Sonawani 

      5 years ago from Pune, India.

      Very good analysis and new perspective to read any novel...place/environment setting and its impact on the protagonist!

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