By Jessica Mocci
From “The Bluest Eye” to “Sula” to “Song of Solomon” and “Tar Baby” Toni Morrison portrays her ways of being one of the world’s most renown American Author and female activist. Toni Morrison's novels reveal the feminist issues concerning black women, issues often forgotten in many feminist discussions in American literature today. In her novels, Morrison interrogates and deconstructs the long-held stereotypical images of black women and the world’s image of what being perfect is.
Morrison was born Chloe Ardelia Wofford in Lorain, Ohio, the second of four children raised in a family that had endured economic and social adversity. While growing up during the Depression, Morrison witnessed the struggles of her father, George Wofford, who had migrated from Georgia, and mother, Ramah Willis Wofford, to support their family. George Wofford often worked many jobs at a time, a shipyard welder, car washer, steel mill welder, and construction worker while Ramah Wofford “took 'humiliating jobs' in order to send Morrison money regularly while she was in college and graduate school." Her parents' willingness to take on hard and sometimes demeaning work was coupled with a distinct unwillingness to relinquish their own sense of value and humanity. While Morrison's parents grappled with economic hardship, they also struggled to retain their sense of worth in an oppressive white world. Their early experiences with racism shaped their respective views of white people. Though deprived of monetary resources in a hostile world, Morrison's family and community held a remarkable wealth of music, storytelling, the supernatural and black language which have been major influences on Morrison and her writings. After high school Morrison attended Howard University, majoring in English and minoring in the classics; her dream was to be a teacher. Morrison graduated from Howard in 1953 and then enrolled in graduate school at Cornell University, Morrison then received her master's degree from Cornell in 1955. In 1957 Morrison then became a English instructor at Howard University. There were two major events that really marked her period of teaching at Howard; She began to write, and she married Harold Morrison, a Jamaican architect. During her marriage Morrison joined a writer's group at Howard, composing a story that grew into her first novel, ““The Bluest Eye””.
The Bluest Eye is a heart wrenching story of how America viewed idealized beauty and society’s longing for blue eyes and blond hair turn self-esteem in the black community into self-loathing. The novel reveals the destructive potential of a standard of beauty that focuses on the way people look rather than on their true worth. This is shown through the character of Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl on the edge of becoming a woman, a girl who longs for blue eyes as a easy pathway to prettiness and so, love. Her desire for the impossible would be less ridiculous if given the unconditional love and support of family and community. However, her mother, suffering from her own belief in the ugliness of her family, ignores her, while her drunken father's mangled attempt at loving his daughter turns into rape. The community watches but does nothing as Pecola gives birth to a baby that dies and as she then lapses into an insanity in which she is finally possessed of the bluest eyes.
“The Bluest Eye” is flooded with characters whose humanity has been destroyed as a consequence of their blackness, a signifier of lack to white society, their own community, and even themselves. The most disturbing part in the novel is the light-skinned blacks who distance themselves from their black heritage in an portrayal of same-race hatred. As in most of her novels, in the “The Bluest Eye” Morrison presents ways of surviving in a world suffused with psychic pain and suffering. Reviews of “The Bluest Eye” were generally encouraging, though at times reserved in their