Friday, February 29, 2008

The Bluest Eye - Sticky Post

Proper discussion questions for February's book, The Bluest Eye, will begin to appear below this post soon. Feel free to link your reviews via Mr. Linky below or link to any other "Dangerous" titles you review in February.
Have fun!

Feel free to discuss general points of The Bluest Eye in the comments section of this post, post questions you're interested in getting opinions on, or just talk amongst yourselves.

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?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bluest Eye Questions - First batch!

1. The novel opens with an excerpt from an old-fashioned reading primer. The lines begin to blur and run together—as they do at the beginning of select chapters. What social commentary is implicit in Morrison's superimposing these bland banalities describing a white family and its activities upon the tragic story of the destruction of a young black girl?

2. How does Morrison's powerful language—both highly specific and lyrical—comment on the inadequacy of "correct" English and the way in which it masks entire worlds of beauty and pain?

3. "Quiet as it's kept, there were no marigolds in the fall of 1941. We thought, at the time, that it was because Pecola was having her father's baby that the marigolds did not grow."

With these lines Morrison's child narrator, Claudia MacTeer, invites the reader into a troubling community secret: the incestuous rape of her 11-year-old friend Pecola Breedlove. What are the advantages of telling Pecola's story from a child's point of view?

4. In what ways does Morrison show how Pecola's environment—and American society as a whole—are hostile to her very existence?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Meet Toni Morrison

Born Chloe Anthony Wofford, in 1931 in Lorain (Ohio), the second of four children in a black working-class family. Displayed an early interest in literature. Studied humanities at Howard and Cornell Universities, followed by an academic career at Texas Southern University, Howard University, Yale, and since 1989, a chair at Princeton University. She has also worked as an editor for Random House, a critic, and given numerous public lectures, specializing in African-American literature. She made her debut as a novelist in 1970, soon gaining the attention of both critics and a wider audience for her epic power, unerring ear for dialogue, and her poetically-charged and richly-expressive depictions of Black America. A member since 1981 of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she has been awarded a number of literary distinctions, among them the Pulitzer Prize in 1988.

From Nobel Lectures, Literature 1991-1995, Editor Sture Allén, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, 1997

For a more extensive bio, click HERE.

Friday, February 1, 2008

And the Winner Is! (January Prizes)

The winner of the January prize pack...a "Reading Woman" calendar, the "Thai Gems" journal, and a hand-painted bookmark is Alicia from Slightly Lively! Alicia, if you'll send your mailing address to us at the address below, we'll get your prize in the mail.

Thanks so much to everyone who's discussed with us so far. You can certainly continue to discuss Great Expectations at your leisure and post January links if you have them, and if you'd like to see any questions posted that we haven't covered, drop us an e-mail at estellabooks (at) gmail (dot) com.

We'll go ahead and post the sticky post for February later in the weekend.