The Bluest Eye is a novel from 1970 written by Toni Morrision. It was Morrison’s first novel. The story takes place in 1940s Ohio and focuses on Pecola, an African American girl with a very difficult life. The story is not narrated by Pecola, however. The narration changes throughout the story between Claudia MacTeer and a third-person narrator.
Chapter 1 specifically is narrated by Claudia. Claudia is Pecola’s foster sister. Pecola lives with Claudia’s family as a result of her house being burned down by her father. In Chapter 1, Claudia is 9 years old and it is the autumn. She tells the story of when Pecola first comes to live with her family. Shortly thereafter, Pecola gets her period for the first time and that becomes one of the centering events of the chapter.
Claudia MacTeer is the narrator for the first chapter of The Bluest Eye, and Claudia carries much of the narrative voice in the novel. There are times, however, when other narrators carry the story in chapters that flash back to the backgrounds of other characters. However, the novel does open in Claudia's voice with the line "Quiet as kept," and this colloquialism suggests that Claudia is an adult telling the details of a story that has become town lore. As the chapter progresses, Claudia's voice gets "closer" to that of her childhood voice, and it seems that she is narrating the story at the time it happens, even though the story is still a recount of an older Claudia looking back on what happened at the time.