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Exercises & Activities
The Bluest Eye - Dick and Jane primers
Excerpt From this Document
ABOUT THE SERIES
(1927-1960s) Dick and Jane primers flourished in the late '40s and '50s when post-war affluence promised a protected world of childhood innocence. These books taught a couple generations how to read, crafted dreamsof gentle suburban bliss, and in the process became immediately recognizable cultural icons.
Morrison intersperses text from a Dick and Jane primer throughout her novel as commentary on the idyllic nature of the “ideal” white, American household. Juxtaposed with the chaos and ugliness of Pecola Breedlove’s life,the text illustrates just how dangerous this idealized image could be in one Lorain, Ohio neighborhood, and what can happen to a black child who cannot stop measuring herself against standards of whiteness.
Read the first page of The Bluest Eye and answer these questions:
1. What is the image created in the first paragraph of the novel?
2. What are some adjectives you can use to describe the setting, characters, and tone of the Dick and Jane primer?
3. Discuss the meaning of the “American Dream” in your group. How do you define it? Then discuss what you think the “American Dream” might mean to the following groupsof people:
- The poor:
- African Americans:
- The Wealthy:
- Teenagers (modern-day):
- Teenagers (1950s):
- White Americans:
4. Why do you think, as the text is repeated two and then three times, Morrison progressively eliminates the spaces in the text, rendering it incomprehensible at the end? What is the intended effect? What’s Morrison’s message?
About this Document
This activity allows students to get a feel for the type of education students are getting during the time of The Bluest Eye. There is a brief description and historical background with guiding questions comparing the book with the timeperiod.