Critical Context (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series)
The Bluest Eye is significant as the first novel of a writer whose succeeding works have built upon the strength and the promise of the first to establish Morrison as one of the most respected of contemporary black novelists. In the three novels that closely followed The Bluest Eye—Sula (1973), Song of Solomon (1977), and Tar Baby (1981)—Morrison expanded her fictional world beyond the limited black community of Lorain, Ohio, where she herself grew up, to encompass other American cities and towns and, in Tar Baby, the Caribbean. She also expanded her range of characters, focusing in Sula on the black female both as child and as adult, in Song of Solomon on the young black male, and in Tar Baby on the young black woman who has achieved success even by white standards.
The publication of Song of Solomon brought Morrison immediate and immense popular success. Even as early as The Bluest Eye, however, she was acclaimed for her poetic language, the mythic scope of her vision, and the fresh perspective from which she presented the black community and the relationships among its members. In presenting the separate but unequal world of blacks from the point of view of a child and in focusing on the child as victim, she gave the literary world a new look at a world of injustice and oppression that in itself was hardly new.