Ideas for Group Discussions
The Bluest Eye generates spirited discussion on the nature, extent, and ubiquity of prejudice in modern America, and other texts on this subject by writers like Alice Walker and Toni Cade Bambara can develop useful dialogues about prejudice, its effects, and possible cures. The novel can also be approached as a treatment of the theme of individual freedom and cultural limitations on that freedom. Many of the questions that follow are intended to stimulate conversations on the tone of The Bluest Eye, or the attitudes implicit in Morrison's characterization and rhetoric.
1. To what degree are Cholly's and Pauline's mistreatments of their children explained by their own past experiences of racism and low cultural self-esteem? Are other characters in the novel more successful in overcoming the same kind (or degree) of prejudice?
2. How fair a characterization of American cultural aspirations is the "Dick and Jane" story by which Morrison introduces many chapters? Is this stereotype an insidious way for the educational system to implant ideas and images in children's minds? Is the stereotype more painful for members of minority than mainstream culture? Why or why not?
3. How do we react to Elihue Whitcomb's accusing God for making the world imperfect? Is this Morrison's view as well? Does religion play a part in the victimization of people like Pecola?
4. How effective is the option to a racist culture exercised by the MacTeer family? Does Morrison suggest that these well-intentioned people, who after all practice charity, are reacting usefully or creatively to discrimination? Does the adult Claudia, who narrates part of the novel, seem to have recovered from her times of hatred for white culture (Shirley Temple and the violence on the dolls)?