Structural Elements Of Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye

951 words - 4 pages

The Bluest Eye:  Structural Elements     

 

In The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison employs structure as an aid for telling her story. She uses at least three unique structural devices for this purpose. First, Morrison begins the novel with three passages that prepare the reader for the shocking tale about to be told. Second, the novel is divided into four major parts with each quarter given the name of a season. Third, the novel is further divided into seven sections that are headed by a portion of the passage that began the novel.

The three passages that begin The Bluest Eye appear to be from a grade school primer. They portray a family's life in identical terms, but they differ in punctuation, capitalization, and spacing. The first passage is normal in all of these aspects:

Here is the house. It is green and white. It has a red door. It is very pretty. Here is the family. Mother, Father, Dick, and Jane live in the green-and-white house. They are very happy. See Jane. She has a red dress. She wants to play. Who will play with Jane?

The second passage lacks punctuation and capitalization

Here is the house it is green and white it has a red door it is very pretty here is the family mother father dick and jane live in the green-and-white house they are very happy see jane she has a red dress she wants to play who will play with jane

The third passage lacks all --- punctuation, capitalization, and spacing. According to Herbert Rice, "what appears on the page is quite literally a chaotic array of letters" (19):

Hereisthehouseitisgreenandwhiteithasareddooritisveryprettyhereisthefamilymotherfatherdic kandjaneliveinthegreenandwhitehousetheyareveryahppyseejaneshehasareddressshewantsto playwhowillplaywithjane

Rice goes on to say that "This opening is the center of the tension around which Morrison will structure her novel: the distance between the first passage and the others is the distance between order and disorder, between the expected and the unexpected" (19). Thus, the first passage, which represents the expected, the way the average white family is supposing to live, is juxtaposed to the unexpectedness of the other two passages. Collectively, they prepare the reader for what is to come in the rest of the novel, the decline and degradation of the Breedlove family (Rice 19). Doreatha Mbalia takes this view a bit further, stating that not only does the first passage represent the average white family, but the second passage represents the MacTeer household and the third, the Breedlove family. While the Breedloves lead a chaotic life, the MacTeers are neither "ideal nor completely chaotic," just like the second passage (34).

Morrison divides The Bluest Eye into four major parts: Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer. According to Mbalia, Morrison named the first quarter autumn in order to inform the reader that "the world is topsy turvey"...

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