Critical Context (Masterplots II: African American Literature)
The Bluest Eye fits into a tradition of African American female coming-of-age novels, though Morrison was unaware of any such books at the time of her novel’s composition. Like Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) and Paule Marshall’s Brown Girl, Brownstones (1959), this novel provides readers with a clear picture of a black girl’s maturation from innocence to experience.
When The Bluest Eye was published in 1970, The New York Times’ influential critic Haskel Frankel declared it a success, and the novel has continued to win critical respect since its publication. By now a standard text in use at many high schools and universities, The Bluest Eye provides readers an uncompromising examination of race, color, gender, and sexuality in American culture.