What literary devices does Morrison use in The Bluest Eye?

Quick answer:

The literary devices Morrison uses in The Bluest Eye include symbolism, motif, allusion, and imagery. Claudia’s destruction of the baby dolls and Pecola’s preoccupation with blue eyes symbolize the omnipresence of white supremacy in their society, as well as in real life.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One literary device in The Bluest Eye is symbolism. In her novel, Toni Morrison uses specific, concrete things to address broader, abstract topics. The white baby dolls that Claudia destroys arguably represent something more than anger at constantly getting presents that she dislikes. The dolls may symbolize racism and the manifold ways that racism is perpetuated. Thus, a white baby doll is not just a white baby doll; it’s a form of white supremacy since it stands for the prejudiced assumption that whiteness, or proximity to whiteness, should be the goal for people of color. The dismemberment of the white dolls could represent Claudia’s attack on this racist hierarchy. Her aim isn't to be around or obtain whiteness. Claudia doesn’t care to “own” or “possess” the dolls. What Claudia wants for Christmas is to be with her family.

Symbolism also relates to blue eyes. Pecola is preoccupied with blue eyes. For her, blue eyes represent a different way of life. If Pecola had blue eyes, maybe her life would be dramatically altered and she wouldn’t be deeply traumatized. Like the baby dolls, the blue eyes symbolize whiteness. However, Claudia didn’t want the baby dolls, while Pecola wants the blue eyes.

Additional literary devices in The Bluest Eye include allusion, motif, and imagery. Morrison alludes to real-life figures, like Henry Ford and Shirley Temple, to build characterization and draw attention to the story’s setting. She uses the reoccurring theme of abuse to emphasize the precariousness of not just Pecola but Claudia and Frieda. Morrison employs imagery to vividly bring to life Claudia, Frieda, Pecola, and their intricate world.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial