Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bluest Eye Discussion Questions - Volume 2

WARNING: Possible spoilers ahead!

5. At a certain point in the novel, Morrison, through her narrator, states that romantic love and physical beauty are "probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought." How do the lives of individual characters bear out that statement? Where do the characters first encounter ideas of romantic love and beauty—ideas which will eventually torture and exclude them? What positive visions of beauty and love does the novel offer?

6. The novel is set in a Midwestern industrial town, Lorain, Ohio, Morrison's own birthplace. Pauline and Cholly Breedlove are transplanted Southerners and several key scenes in the novel are set in the South. How does Morrison set up comparisons between a Northern black community and the Southern black way of life? What values have been lost in the migration north?

7. Consider Morrison's characterization of Cholly Breedlove. While she clearly condemns his actions, she resists dehumanizing him. If rape of one's daughter is an "unimaginable" crime, can one at least trace the events (and resulting emotions) that made it possible for Cholly to commit this brutal act? Is there a connection between the white hunters' "rape" of Cholly and the sexual aggression he eventually turned on his daughter?


Nyssaneala said...

6. This is a theme that really interested me while I was reading the novel. Not only did the African-American community of Lorain view the Breedloves as outsiders, they were also viewed as a different class of black folk because they were from the South.

7. Morrison tries to create sympathy for Cholly, in a similar way to book I read last year, Falling On Your Knees by Anne-Marie MacDonald. She paints the picture of a broken man, and the white man's 'rape' is only one example.

Kim L said...

7. Morrison wants us to understand what made Cholly, Cholly. She spends a long time giving us his history, so we can see how he's been oppressed most of his life. We also get a glimpse into his destructive marriage to Mrs. Breedlove and the unhappy results. By presenting Pecola's rape from his perspective, we are supposed to see how he justifies it to himself. Still disturbing, but rather than some random person, we can peer into Cholly's head and see what led to that event.