Beginning The Bluest Eye

Once you have listened to Mini Lecture 8, and read the linked notes, please respond to these questions:

 

  1. How does the opening section (the first two pages) relate to the second ‘opening’ of the novel? What connections can you see between them? Quote and analyze passages.
  2. How does one excerpt from the child’s Dick-and-Jane primer relate to one section it prefaces, from page 9-131? Please try NOT to choose the same section as your classmates. Quote and analyze evidence.
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62 Comments

  1. 1. The first opening appears to describe a very basic description of a family of four with pets. The child, Jane, “has a red dress. She wants to play” (Morrison, 2). The paragraph is repeated two more times, but each in a different style. The second opening is told from the point of view of a little girl and her concern for Pecola’s baby and why the marigolds have not sprouted. Then there are these sentences that compare the work of the girl planting her seeds to Pecola’s father dropping his seed, but that sentence is followed by, “Our innocence and faith were no more productive than his lust or despair” (Morrison, 5). One can assume from this line, it means that Pecola was raped by her father and she is now living with this little girl. The author could have put these openings together to show an innocent family and not so innocent family. That is the only comparison I could make from reading these openings together.

    2. I think it relates to the novel because the novel is constantly using the referencing the Dick-and-Jane primer that is used in the opening. The sentences, “See Mother. Mother is very nice…Mother laughs. Laugh, Mother, laugh” (Morrison, 2) is similar to “Pretty eyes…Big blue pretty eyes” (Morrison, 46) which could imply that they both come from the style. the opening also contains an unusual paragraph that is written like, “Heristhehouseitisgreenandwhite…” (Morrison, 3) which also mirror the beginning of some chapters like, “SEETHECATITGOESMEOWMEOW…” (Morrison, 81). I am still not sure why there are no interword separations, but the primer uses it and it is seen throughout the novel. It is a pretty interesting work so far and I will surely enjoy the rest.

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    1. I just found another reference while reading this post that sort of relates to the writing after the first two openings. The first opening states something about the girl wearing a red dress and once we get into the story, we see that Pecola started her period while also wearing a dress and we understand that it was a fairly “red” situation. This may or may not relate, but I found it quite interesting.

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    2. I agree the style of writing of the Dick-and-Jane section is again used in the main novel. This is possibly done to connect the two sections and show how they contrast each other. As you pointed out they both have the odd paragraph where all the words run together which is interesting. Maybe it is used to show that the family depicted in the first opening and the one in the novel are not so different.

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    3. There is a lot of subtext concerning Pecola and her tumultuous home life. There are many speculative characters and elements that could point to adversity in her past, but Morrison chooses to elaborate on the explicit tangible conditions in which the family lives. I believe this was done to create the here-and-now portrayal of her family.

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  2. The two openings are very different from one another. The first opening seems to be describing a seemingly perfect family, at least from the outside. Everything in the first opening is simple and pretty, “it is very pretty here is the family mother father dick and jane”. As the passage goes on syntax is lost, until the words end up blending together. When the words ended up being blended together it makes them lack meaning. It becomes gibberish. The second passage has to do with the book in a more direct way. It is Claudia reflecting on the year that the marigolds did not bloom. She is looking back and realizing they did not grow, not because her, her sister, or Pecola did anything but because the ground itself refused to grow anything: “It never occurred to either of us that the earth itself might have been unyielding”. I think that sentence is very interesting. It could possibly mean that somethings are out of our hands. The girls could do nothing to make the flowers grow if the earth refused to fertilize it; they could not control it. I could not find any true comparison between the two openings except that the first passage seems to represent everything Pecola wanted and the second is what she actually got.

    The very first part of the Dick-Jane primer that prefaces a section is: “HEREISTHEHOUSEITISGREENANDWHITEITHASAPRETTYREDDOORITISVERYPRETTYITISVERYPRETTYPRETTYPRETTYP”. The section goes on to describe the house that Pecola and her family live in. It describes all the people that were there before them. The section is introduced my the primer and one might think the section is going to be about a pretty house but the section is actually about a building/house that everyone in town hates. Nobody likes to look at the house but nobody does anything to do something about it, “Visitors who drive to this tiny town wonder why it has not been torn down, while pedestrians, who are residents of the neighborhood, simply look away when they pass it.” The house is left unaddressed just like the Breedlove family is left unaddressed. The house is opposite of what is described in the dick-jane primer. The prefaces to the sections seem to describe the perfect version of life while the section deals with the harsh realities of life.

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    1. I agree that the two openings are starkly different from each other. I believe Morrison really wanted to express the differences between the races at this time in American life. While the white family is depicted as happy and perfect, the black family is miserable and flawed.

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    2. I agree the two opens are really different from one another. I think that the prefaces of the sections are the complete opposite of what that section that follows is about. I never thought to connect the unyielding quote to life being out of the children hands and them not being able to control it. However, I have to agree with you when I read it and it makes the whole story make sense.

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    3. Your comparison to the two openings is an interesting notion. It does appear to the wishes of a young girl with a troubled life and I wouldn’t have thought of that. Reading about Pecola and what she experiences, it’s no wonder that she wished for a better life away from her father.

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    4. I agree that the two openings are extremely different from one another. The first family is the ideal family at the time where there is a mom, dad, a little boy, a little girl, a dog, and a cat. The second family, however, is everything one would not want in a family. I like your idea that the second opening is Claudia.

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    5. I too thought the Dick-and-Jane introduction was more of a contrast between a “perfect” family and the one Pecola resides in, especially since Claudia is so obsessed with finding out what is perfect . The scene with the unaddressed house also spoke to me in regards to the introductory scene. Most of the descriptions of places contrast with the first scene. Morrison did place it brilliantly.

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    6. I agree with you, the two openings were different from one another. I also agree that the house described in the primer seems to be the opposite from Pecola’s house. The house described in the primer seems to be pretty and perfect which is different from their home which is old and in rough shape.

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    7. I agree that the purpose of the two opening paragraphs were meant to contrast the different lifestyles that people of various cultures experience. The author purposely wanted the audience to think about the meaning of the two paragraphs to allow them to continue with the rest of story with an open mind about what it meant to be “beautiful”.

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    8. I feel that Dick-Jane primer tries to reiterate themes and feelings by using non-conventional and redundant verbiage. This poem tries to appeal to the subversive aspects of the capitalization and the wording, alluding to a more discreet and harder to understand message. I think you’re right in deducing that it describes their house and the sarcastic tone with which it is described. It serves as a work that ultimately exhibits sophisticated elements within the subtext.

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  3. 1.) The only similarities I saw between the two opening scenes are that they are told and understood from a child-like perspective; other than that I thought they were opposites in terms of substance. The first, which detailed the fast paced going’s on of a simple family (dog, father, mother, and simple named children included) were all about action, the reader got a crystal clear image of what was happening in that moment and in the one right after. The then section repeats with less punctuation until its final retelling without any punctuation at all. The odd thing is that though we are granted such detail in action, at the end of the first opening we’re left with a huge feeling of disconnectedness. The quickening pace adds more to this notion that though we are painted a perfect picture of whats happening and what comes next, we are led no closer to the actual point of any of it. While reading it I couldn’t help but imagined a dazed or brainwashed child reciting a simple memorized script and the more it was retold the creepier and incoherent or as a person trying to convince themselves of a false truth through repitition. A curious red dressed Jane, laughing mother, nice father, and bowowing dog all interact within seconds of each other and yet however more pressed the written words become it feels as if the actual events are gaining vast distances between them. There is no higher meaning connecting these events but the complete opposite is to be said of the second opening. You can tell the difference starting with the first sentence of the second because it mentions actual analysis and depth of character as the narrator states “We thought, at the time, that it was because Pecola was having her father’s baby that the marigolds did not grow”(2). Though the girl narrating the second is still young and naïve enough to feel as if she could will the universe by planting physical seeds of hope, they are still aware enough of Pecola’s situation to know and establish it’s taboo. The majority of the second opening is internal dialogue and analysis, mainly about the narrators guilt for having “planted [the seeds] too far down in the earth”(3) and feeling as if she let Pecola and her unborn child down. So it seems in one opening we get all the context but no meaning and the complete opposite in the other.

    2.) As I mentioned above, the primer is told like a dazed child repeating something in an attempt to convince or imagine a new and perfect reality for themselves. The book is mostly told from a child’s perspective and focused on Pecola’s story who is infatuated with love and the allure of what would seem to be an easier life if she and her family had the privileges of their Caucasian counter parts. Everything about the primer contradicts the story’s reality while at the same time mirroring its most important aspects. It showcases the desire of a seemingly perfect family while at the same time failing to portray actual love and connection. Theorizing that the primer is Pecola’s perfect reality means that this reality abides by her own limits of understanding. For example, Jane is constantly asking everyone including the animals to interact with her. She fails and moves on to the next with the same method, not understanding how to change the outcome and get the affection she wants. Pecola expressed a similar frustration near the end of Autumn, when she asks “How do you do that? I mean, how do you get somebody to love you?”(32). As far as the primer being the opposite (but desired) reality I found the placement of certain segments through out the book interesting. For example “SEEMOTHERISVERYNICEMOTHERWILLYOUPLAYWITHJANEMOTHERLAUGHSLAUGHMOTHERLAUGHLA” is on page 110 right before the detailing of Pauline who readers occasionally sympathize with (on account of her loneliness and bum foot) but inflicts just as much pain on Pecola as the next person.

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    1. I agree with you interpretation that the primer is read like a dazed child. It comes across almost chant like, in that maybe if the statement continued as it does it will become true. I think Morrison really wanted the reader to see that no matter what, the Breedloves would never be similar to the Dick and Jane image, they will never be happy because in some regard, they are not supposed to be.

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    2. I like how you mentioned that the first opening lacks a connection to the people being described. I think that shows the disconnectedness between the races and social classes during this time. I really like the comparison you made between the two openings, very insightful.

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    3. I didn’t even think about how the two opening being told from a child’s point of view. I also like how you pointed out the lack of means but context and vice versa with both openings. Also about Pecola attempts to create a new reality from the Dick-and-Jane primer is a possibility and more in-depth than my own hypothesis.

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    4. It’s interesting that you point out Jane’s need for interaction with anything, including dogs, and subsequent lack of receiving any. This could certainly resemble Pecola’s frustrations with love, especially since her own family life is not ideal in any sense. There is definitely a disconnect between the narrator and the actual family being described in the primer, as you mentioned, and that could also represent Pecola’s lack of understanding and maturity within the book so far.

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    5. I agree with you o the similarities in how the story was told. To me, both were told to be understood in a child like manner, as well as agree with you and your interpretation of the primer.

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    6. I agree that the first two openings are quite different from each other; the first is told from the perspective of a young child, while the other is told in a more mature point of view. While the first is a stereotypical depiction of the “perfect family”, the other is more realistic, because it is self-aware that most families, more often than not, are not without their fair share of problems. Such is the case with the family presented throughout the story.

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  4. The opening is referring to the very popular children’s books from this era, the Dick and Jane series by William S. Grey. These books were disseminated across America and depicted the “norm” of children, family and life at the time. Morrison references this book series because it would be standard for the children to be reading them at the time, as well as the characters in her novel are starkly different from them. Morrison’s characters are depictions of the harsh and often painful realities of childhood, family and life, while the Dick and Jane series is absurdly inaccurate. These books also reiterate the differences in beauty and life expectation between Frieda, Claudia and Pecola to that of Jane, Sheirly Temple and any other white, blonde, blue-eyed beauty. This opening is a preface for the conflict of expectation to come in the novel. Morrison is foreshadowing reality with its polar opposite; the last sentence of the second opening addresses this concept in a very poetic way; “There is really nothing more to say- except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in the how.” (Morrison, 1970). This statement is really the essence of the novel, avoiding the deeper analysis and focusing on the easier interpretation. Rather than address the society and its expectations of beauty, and frankly, humanity, that created the chaos in Frieda, Claudia, Pecola, Cholly and Ms. Breedlove’s mind, we focus on their actions. Morrison presents us with a novel that is like a lake: if you only look at the surface, you will only see your own reflection, yet if you look beyond that, you will see the life beneath the water. On the surface, Morrison’s book appears to be the story of incest in postmodern black America, but is it? No. It is about the society that created these people, ignited their pain and influenced their actions.
    “HEREISTHEFAMILYMOTHERFATHERDICKANDJANETHEYLIVEINTHEGREENANDWHITEHOUSETHEYAREVERYH” This is the Dick and Jane primer for the segment that describes the Breedloves, their living situation and their lives. It is very poignant because it ends at the place where it would read “They are very happy” which we know the Breedloves aren’t. Everything else about the primer is relatively representative, there is a mother and a father, a boy and girl child, and a house. However, everything else is negative, pained, unhappy. The Breedloves are not the depiction of normal, happy family. They are the depiction of pained, struggling people.

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    1. Wow I really loved your entire analysis! I didn’t know the primer was a reference to a specific book at the time. Beyond that I completely agree with the lake analogy. Simply looking and reflecting is so much easier than having to learn to swim and dive into a deeper meaning. In this case the strong preference for staying on this surface just makes the feeling of disconnect that much stronger. It works in the same way the first primer is focused on such eerie perfection that it ends up boosting the image of reality’s dysfunction in comparison.

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    2. I really enjoyed the lake analogy. It definitely sums up what perhaps are the inner themes of this book that one would have to skim through a second time in order to really get and appreciate. I think the entire book has plenty of layers that can be analyzed over and over to an extent, and I think just looking at the surface instead of looking further beyond will limit what people will get out of the book.

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  5. 1. The novel opens up with several sentences that seem to be at a very low reading level. The paragraph begins to describe what seems to be the ideal family, which everyone strives to have, a Father, Mother, and the two children Dick and Jane. The author seems to focus on Jane and her enthusiasm to play. The part I found to be quite weird is the author decides to rewrite this paragraph two more time in what seems to be word for word, just with slight differences in punctuations and no spaces between the words. I think the reason behind this is to emphasize the meaning of the paragraph. The second opening is quite different from the first; in the first, it is simple, happy while the second is the complete opposite of that. The narrator clarifies that no marigolds developed in the fall of 1941. They thought the marigolds didn’t develop on the grounds that Pecola, a young lady in the town, was having her dad’s child. Also, the narrator and her sister suspected that on the off chance that they planted marigold seeds and said the correct words over them, Pecola’s child would be conceived “ok”. It shows that Pecola was raped by her father, “We had dropped our seeds in our own little plot of black dirt just as Pecola’s father had dropped his seeds in his own plot of black dirt.” (Morrison 5). I think the author placed this two opening together to show the contrast of the two different families, also perhaps as a lesson that to be grateful for the little things in life because not everyone is as lucky to have a great family.
    2. The Bluest Eye, analyzes the unfortunate impacts of forcing white, working class American beliefs of magnificence on the creating female personality of a youthful African American young lady amid the mid-1940s. The novel powerfully demonstrates the mental obliteration of a youthful dark young lady, Pecola, who scans for adoration and acknowledgment in a world that precludes and downgrades individuals from claiming her own particular race. “Dandelions. A dart of affection leaps out from her to them. But they do not look at her and do not send love back. She thinks, ‘They are ugly. They are weeds” (Morrison). Pecola finds a relation with the weeds and grows to love them because they are ‘ugly’. The Bluest Eye uses passages from the Dick-and-Jane grammar as a primer and preliminary with recollections and stories of Pecola’s life on the other hand told everything considered by one of Pecola’s currently developed adolescence companions and by an omniscient storyteller.

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    1. I agree with you saying that the openings are written to show the difference between two families. Maybe what is repeated in the first opening is what Pecola kept repeating to herself in order to be okay with the life she currently has as if to continue pretending her life is not all that bad. I picture a young girl repeating this in her head while everything is going wrong around her trying to convince herself that she will survive and that there is such thing as a perfect little family, hoping that someday she will be able to have the same.

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    2. I agree the mental state Pecola has to face because of her race. There is two opposite and different perspective of families especially of race. Pecola is faces really harsh reality that really impacts her life and she doesn’t have a say. Pecola doesn’t really know how bad racism is,but she finds out later on when Junior is inflicts harm to her. Pecola is lonely and vulnerable that she doesn’t really have anyone to go to especially her father who really raped her and took her innocence away from her.

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  6. 1)
    The first two pages are saying the same exact thing, yet the way they are formatted allow it to be very different. It seems as the passages are being spoken by a child and with each time it is repeated, we are able to see a deeper sense of urgency. In the first opening, we hear this story of a perfect little family with a mom and a dad and a son and a daughter. Morrison states in the first opening, “See Mother. Mother is very nice. Mother, will you play with Jane? Mother laughs. Laugh, Mother, laugh. See Father. He is big and strong. Father, will you play with Jane? Father is smiling. Smile, Father, smile.” (Morrison 3). It gives the allusion of a family where nothing would seem to be wrong and is written with tons of repetition to get the specific point across. That line could also be hinting at what happens in the second opening. However in the second opening, we get a story where we understand that Pecola had been raped by her own father—“We had dropped our seeds in our own little plot of black dirt just as Pecola’s father had dropped his seeds in his own plot of black dirt” (Morrison 6). Again, we see the repetition in the writing and are able to get a feeling of what the household is like. In the second opening we get the metaphor of the seeds and the black dirt that represent the seed of the man and the feminine counterparts of Pecola, which she feels are dirty now as her innocence was taken from her.

    2)
    The book seems to be written in the same elaborate format that the first Dick and Jane primer is written in. It tells a story with every single detail. This is done so that the reader understand every detail that is happening, as if a child were to be telling the story without missing a beat. Morrison writes, “If somebody ate too much, he could end up outdoors. If somebody used too much coal, he could end up outdoors” (Morrison 17). This quote shows the same repetition that is used in the first opening. The sentences could be merged into one with correct formatting, yet are separated to follow the “train of thought” format that the entire book seems to be written in. There are also a few instances that relate to the first opening quote (See Mother. Mother is very nice. Mother, will you play with Jane? Mother laughs. Laugh, Mother, laugh) where the mother is said to be very happy and laughing and the father is smiling, “The water gushed, and over its gushing we could hear the music of my mother’s laughter” (Morrison 32). The Dick and Jane primer is present with the idea of a perfect little family where nothing could go wrong, but reading the first two openings we understand that this story is clearly not all fun and games.

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  7. 1) There’s an important notion of play and laughter, between innocence of play and the innocence of youth. In a sense, it’s being juxtaposed between the two openings. We see one opening reflect the true innocence and then we see the reality of life, or what has been given against the wants and hopes of the people it introduces. There’s also an important repetition at work, speaking of play. When the first opening examines, “who will play with jane?” (Morrison,1), it essentially sparks the idea of the play of life. Constant cycles that become a part of daily living. In juxtaposes with the second opening, “it was a long time before my sister and I admitted to ourselves that no green was going to spring from our seeds” (Morrison, 3). The reference to playing and seeds, kind of like growing in your youth. There seems to be a connection of what a childhood should be and what it is not. Or a colliding idea that youth should be this repetitive bliss and as is true in the second opening, it is not that. It’s a harsh hand dealt to children facing a destructive growing pain of dealing with things children shouldn’t deal with. They should be playing as opposed to worrying about the family ties and seeds and sin and guilt. The openings reflect the path that will become these character’s lives. Where it should be an easy childhood of playing and this picture perfect happiness, but it is not that. they deal with harsher truths and reality.

    2) There’s a part in the Dick-And-Jane primer relating to a specific section involving Pecola and Junior. In the Dick-and-Jane primer it states, “…she wants to play who will play with jane see the cat it goes meow meow come and play come play with jane the kitten wil not play…” (Morrison,2).
    There’s an ominous tone revolving around this section between pages 88-93, revolving the cat and Junior, Pecola. It represents the youthful Americana of the white-american household juxtaposed to the racial tensions and realities of African-Americans during the time of the novel. Where in the primer it’s a cheery version of playing or not playing with animals, specifically a kitten (cat), and the truth behind the matter where there’s a cat that is the symbol of destruction and death. “Get out,” she said, her voice quiet. “You nasty little black bitch, Get out of my house.” (Morrison, 92). It essentially emphasizes the racial tensions between people, whether they are the same color or not, but more-so the economic status between poor and middle-class, or rich African-Americans. It relates by juxtaposing the ideal White-American family and the children and their childhood, and the reality between other ethnic minorities and their childhood, specifically the African-American perspective. “Pecola backed out of the room, staring at the pretty milk-brown lady in the pretty green-and-gold house who was talking to her through her cat’s fur” (Morrison, 92).These pages, between Junior and Pecola and the necessity for play, but it going horribly wrong, in the ideal world, everyone plays and they either have a good time and play or don’t at all, and how it showcases the sheer, horrible truth behind it. The degradation of Pecola and her identity and innocence, is heightened in this section and is represented by the primer as a deconstruction of youth and what the ideal of white America has done to everyone else around.

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    1. I really like the section you chose to analysis. That section really displayed exactly with the preface said except in a negative way. Your analysis on the section was really great. I like how you touched on the racial tensions between people of the same race. It is interesting how there is a hierarchy within the races as well. It shows how divided everyone in the novel is.

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    2. I really like reading your interpretation of how the different race and the reality they have to face. Junior targeted Pecola because of her identity and she was considered ugly. I really enjoy reading your response because race is always faced with the harsh reality of racism and Pecola was a victim to Junior intentions.

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    3. I also really love the passages you chose. The primer and the reality have an odd knack for showcasing both similarities and complete opposites of each other at the same time. Neither girl gets the “play” or attention and yet as you have pointed out, the harsh reality is that for Pecola, her rejection is fueled by race and class prejudices.

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    4. I like your interpretation of how the two paragraphs are contrasting each other in the sense that one is the “true innocence” and the other explains “the reality of life” and I agree. Children do not realize the harsh realities of life until they are faced with something that makes them have a different perspective on how the world works. This is why most parents try to preserve the innocent of their children as much as possible because the world is unfortunately not sunshine and rainbows.

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    5. There is definitely some form of idealism whenever it comes to the opening of the book and how much others want to obsess over it. We can clearly see that Pecola is obsessed with this idealism, while the narrator perhaps doesn’t like it at all. We can mostly see this whenever the narrator destroyed baby blue dolled eyes, while Pecola herself prays for them.

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  8. The opening of the first two pages describes a family of four a mother, father, Dick, and Jane. The opening is giving a us a perspective of the story from Dick and Jane from a child’s point of view. ” It goes meow-meow. Come and play. Come play with Jane,” this passage shows the interpretation of Jane’s point of view (3). There is also repeated sentences and also lacks of connection of the story. On the second section, the narrator is giving us more of a overview of the story of what’s going to happen in the novel which can spark an interest to the readers. For example, “Pecola was having her father’s baby that the marigolds did not grow,” which this passage is so weird and nasty; however, it gives us the feeling of curiosity of whats going on and the relationship between Pecola and her Father (5). I felt like reading this passage made me think that Pecola suffered a lot and that she lost her innocence because of what her father did to her, that may assume rape. The connection between both of them is the innocence of a family and meaningful vs the damage and the meaningless of the family.

    Dick and Jane relates to the novel by using similar structure of phrases of sentences on the chapter titles.For example,”SEETHECATITGOESMEOWMEOWCOMEANDPLAYCOMEPLAYWITHJANE..,” is the same sentence on the prologue in the beginning (81). On this section Junior sees the racist perception of Pecola and no one goes near her because of her appearance and definitely he has no remorse of luring poor innocent Pecola and harming her. “When she started toward the doorway, Junior leaped in front of her. You can’t get out. You’re my prisoner,” he treated her very harshly like she was nothing (90). Pecola is lonely, weak, and vulnerable because of her appearance she has no respect and is treated violently. I found that Pecola innocence is taken away from the harsh reality she has to face because of her race and she doesn’t have anyone to rely on. She is also blamed of killing Junior’s cat and his mother inflicts hate to Pecola for the actions she did not cause, but the actions of Junior. Pecola is innocent, but she faces the true cause of reality that is racism, and her voice doesn’t matter when she is face with Caucasians.

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    1. I agree that Pecola is not treated as she should and is lonely both inside and outside of her home. She does have to face some harsh realities that she shouldn’t have to ever especially as a child. The families are the complete opposite of one another.

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    2. Pecola isn’t treated the way she should be treated and the passage you quoted proves that. Innocence and self worth is mostl likely what she lost, and I like your intepretation on how both are connected.

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    3. I think it’s noteworthy that the “Dick and Jane” series depicts the classic wholesome white family, whereas Pecola clearly has not been part of a perfect upbringing. Her family is in stark contrast with the morality presented in the “Dick and Jane” style of writing. Pecola herself desires to be white with blue eyes and part of a “perfect family”. This desire is justifiable; it alludes to the well known fact that during this time blacks were wrongfully oppressed in comparison to their white counterparts, and as a result often had a better family life, as well as a better quality of living altogether.

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  9. The first two pages simply describe a scene, in which, inside a house, a pleasant family resides and a child, Jane, plays alone. As the story is retold again, the form changes as the words begin to blend together and the story is ultimately repeated in a jumble of letters. The second opening describes the changing of the seasons, presumably from Claudia’s perspective, the sad reality of Pecola’s pregnancy with her father’s child, and the futility of Claudia and her sister’s innocence and Cholly Breedlove’s lust and despair. While the first opening describes a picturesque scene and family, in which the mother laughs, the father smiles, the dog and cat elude Jane, and the end involves hope for Jane to have finally found a playmate (a friend), the second ends with with the sad but unjust certainty that Cholly Breedlove, Pecola’s baby, the marigold seeds, and Claudia and her sister’s innocence are all dead. The fresh green and whiteness of the house in the first opening mirrors the desired green of Claudia and Frieda’s marigold seeds, although they never sprout, just as Pecola’s baby does not survive. The final line, “since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how,” mirrors the simplicity of the first opening; Jane’s family is happy, no one will play with her, and we that’s all we know, despite how many times the story is retold.

    The lines “Mother is very nice […] Mother laughs. Laugh, Mother, laugh” from the first opening of the novel resound throughout a lot of the narrative. Regarding this role, it’s possible that Pecola has several mothers other than Mrs. Breedlove, though none are able to fully protect her. Marie, for example, who treats Pecola with kindness despite her brusque nature, is often described in raucous fits, such as when Pecola visits her for the first time in the novel: “Marie threw back her head. From deep inside, her laughter came like the sound of many rivers, freely, deeply, muddily, heading for the room of an open sea,” and, as later recounted by Claudia, after their less pleasant encounter, “She let her head tilt sideways, closed her eyes, and shook her massive trunk, letting the laughter fall like a wash of red leaves […]” (Morrison, 52 and 104). Claudia and Frieda’s mother, additionally, serves as a maternal figure for Pecola, especially in light of her briefly taking her in. When Pecola begins menstruating, Claudia’s mother is the one to clean and advise her, as the girls later hear from outside the door, “The water gushed, and over its gushing we could hear the music of my mother’s laughter” (32). This joyous sound is in contrast to the earlier anger and violence she reacted with when she initially came upon the girls, and shows the softer side of her parenting.

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    1. I very much agree with what you wrote about Penola having many mother figures but were in fact a far better mother than her actual mother. And although they are not fully protective of her as you stated there is a happiness that reside within these maternal figures. Great response.

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  10. I saw the beginning in two ways, the first way can be how an innocent child sees their family before their eyes are open to more adult like prospectives. The other way is that its the american family dream of a mother and father having one of each child and thus being the perfect family (that can be how people from the outside looking in see the family). Then the beginning of the story is what everyone on the outside does not see about the family from a child like prospective. On the other hand it can be showing a contrast between the two families one that is in a position to live in a sheltered lifestyle and the other that has constraints pulling them down. “Our house is old, cold, and green” (10). The first house is pretty and green and it has life in it. In the second half the other house is old, cold, and green almost as if the family life is harsh. In one house the only issue is who will play with Jane, while the rest of the book is on what happens when that innocence is not always protected. The short version is it is a contrast of how the typical white family lived during the time and the beginning of the next section describes the realities of the typical African-American family experience.
    “Here is the family. Mother, Father, Dick and Jane they live in the green and white house. They are very happy” (2). When this quote is seen again to start information on Breedloves on page 38 only the “H” from happy is on the page. The text that follows displays that the family of four is not as happy as the family being descibed in the beginning, which is why the word happy is left off. “Please, God, she whispered into the palm of her hand. Please make me disappear” (45). Pecola wants to disappear from her life after hearing her parents and brother fight. Her home life is not happy nor secure as a childs life should be, she has to live in one room with her parents and brother. Pecola is living in a cycle of her father coming home drunk then her mother yelling at him from being drunk. The primer in a way describes just the opposite of Pecola’s life, but it reflects everything she wants in life. She wants her family to be happy and love each other. Whoever, when it comes to nurturing her family is the exact opposite of the primer, her brother leaves her whenever he disapears to get away from their parents cycle of abuse. Pecola starts to make herself disappear inside herself to cope with her family life, but nomatter how hard she tries she still witness everything bad that happens in her family. All in all to close out both the prompts I believe the primer is the life Pecola wish she had.

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    1. I like your analysis, it could be seen both ways. Although both houses are green, they are different from one another. I agree with you, the description of the houses could represent the realities of how Americans and African-Americans lived at the time.

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    2. Maybe I am looking too deeply into the story of Jane, but I believe Jane’s story is more of a foreshadowing of Pecola’s. Jane is ignored by everyone until the end of the story, and even then it is vague. I think that eventually we will see a “friend” finally give Pecola the happiness she is searching for, although it may not be what she thinks it is. Because of the vagueness of the ending of the original story, I think it may be left open to be something darker than what we expect.

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  11. The first opening of The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison seems to have nothing to do with the second opening of the novel but they do relate to one another. The first opening depicts a seemingly idyllic family and the second opening depicts a much different family. One connection I noticed in the two openings was the word green. In the first opening, the “green and white” house is mentioned a few times (Morrison 1). It is where Dick and Jane live with their picturesque family. In the second opening the children “admitted to [themselves] that no green was going to spring from [their] seeds” (Morrison 3). Green seems to relate to happiness in these openings. Dick and Jane play in their green and white house; the children in the second opening argue over who is to blame for the magnolias inability to grow. This is again seen in the main novel. Claudia describes her house as “old, cold, and green” (Morrison 10). Unlike the green house that Dick and Jane lived in where “mother laughs”, in Claudia’s green house her mother scolds her for getting sick on the sheets asking “What did you puke on the bed clothes for? Don’t you have no sense?” (Morrison 1) (Morrison 11). Dick and Jane live their happy life with their happy mother in the first opening but Claudia is living a hard life with a tough mother in the main portion of the novel. I found it interesting that the two openings and the main novel put emphasis on green.

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    1. I liked how you pointed the repetition of the color green and the different meanings it embodies between the opening of the novel and throughout the rest of it. This green is what the children wished to signify what it means in the Dick and Jane primer but unfortunately it isn’t. Great response.

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  12. 1. I think the two opening sections show a contrast rather than a relation. The first opening section is an excerpt from the children’s story, Fun with Dick and Jane. This is an example of two children from white middle-class families. They play and don’t have much to worry about, “Here comes a friend. The friend will play with Jane.” The second opening reveals the tragedy of Pecola’s rape. She is young, African American, has an abusive father, and of the lower class. Unlike Jane from the first opening, she has much to worry about. I think Toni Morrison wanted to point out this contrast.
    2. On page 38 there the primer describes Dick and Jane’s family, “They live in the green and white house, they are very h.” The word happy is cut off. The chapter begins by describing the storefront that the Breedlove’s live in. It describes how Pecola’s parents fight and how she finds refuge by talking to prostitutes who live near her and are kind to her. I think Morrison cut off the word happy to show how the Breedlove’s living situation is quite complicated.

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  13. The opening section of the novel describes an idyllic life of a family. Happiness runs through this family and fun is expected amongst them. The next two paragraphs are the same but with syntax errors to make it seem in the voice of a child who is saying this and how they desire such life. This relates to the second opening of the novel because the narrator states that the life of young black girls isn’t as idyllic as expected instead their wishes of wanting it to be blends within the voice of the child that is heard in the first opening. As stated that “our seeds were not the only ones that did not sprout; nobody’s did” but the girls still “could think of nothing but our own magic; if we planted the seeds, and said the right worlds over them, they would blossom, and everything would be alright” (Morrison, 5). This meant that they hoped for that happy life and truly believed would occur despite the realistic circumstances.

    The excerpt from the Dick-and-Jane primer on page 81 “SEETHECATITGOESMEOWMEOWCOMEANDPLAYCOMEPLAYWITHJANETHEKITTENWILLNOTPLAYPLAYPLAYPLA” relates to the passage that proceeds after. In this passage it tells of Junior wanting to be loved by his mother just their pet cat and when he invites Pecola over, she encounters the cat that is so beloved and although it takes her a while she is transfixed by the cat as well. For the cat was of a beautiful black color with blue eyes that Pecola wished she embodied. The primer relates to this section because it shows how two children wished to be loved and look like the cat. The cat is view as grand pedestal that these children hoped to be on, but is denied, as cat doesn’t want to play.

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  14. Traditional prologues of novels generally provides the readers with inside on what the story is going to be about. This is precisely what Tori Morrison was doing in her book, The Bluest Eye. The first section describes how a child sees/describes life around herself. “See Jane. She has a red dress. She wants to play…See mother. Mother is very nice. Mother, will play with Jane? Mother laughs” (2). This sort of simple, non-complex sentences initiates the world through a child eyes. As we all know, most children can’t communicate the way adults do. They can’t speak/describe their life the way adults can because they have not fully developed yet. The second sections seems to shift, not only in story but also in complexity. The sentences are denser with details and ultimately what the story will be about. “Our innocence and faith were no more productive than his lust or despair” as well as, “Cholly Breedlove is dead; our innocence too. The seeds shriveled and died; her baby too” (5). Here is where I was talking about earlier about Morrison using the prologue to show the readers what will happen in the story. Although, I can’t seem to connect these two sections perfectly, they both show how the story is going to be played out.

    In Autumn section 3 titled; HEREISTHEFAMILYMOTHERFATHERDICKANDJANETHEYLIVEINTHEGREENANDWHITEHOUSETHEYAREEVERYH, Morrison describes how the family is truly not “happy.” Cholly comes home drunk and Mrs. Breedlove begins to argue with him. As Peocla lays in bed scared she cries out to God, “Please, God, Please make me disappear” (45). I feel that this connects back to the first prologue section because in full light, the family is truly not happy and as one grows up they begin to see the unhappiness surrounding them. However, this section also is part of the last one where “pretty” is repeated several times because Pecola believes that she is ugly and that she wishes her eyes would disappear so she wouldn’t have to see herself. This is where she begins to pray to God about having “blue eyes.”

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    1. I really liked your reading on the two opening passages. I too thought that the rise in complexity at the end of the first opening related to the end of the second opening when the author discusses the loss of innocence as one grows.

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  15. The two openings of “The Bluest Eye” only seem to relate in terms of differences. In the first opening, the narrator is describing a seemingly perfect family with “Mother, Father, Dick, and Jane” who “are very happy” (Morrison 3). With the second opening, the setting is centered around an absence of marigolds and two siblings fighting, the complete opposite of the first setting. Morrison is putting these two images against each other to show the “perfect family” against the dark reality of little Pecola. Jane’s happy family is very different from the experiences of Pecola, and this introduction does much to emphasize that.

    The Dick-and-Jane opening relates to a specific scene for me, “an abandoned store on the southeast corner of Broadway and Thirty-fifth Street in Lorain, Ohio” (Morrison 33). This, among other descriptions of houses, directly contrasts the green and white house that is very pretty with a happy family living inside of it (Morrison 3). The scene opens with the abandoned building but then delves into the history behind it, explaining the loitering teenage boys who would grab their junk at girls and the Hungarian baker who had a famous brioche and poppy seed rolls. This contrasts with the first scene because it describes the reality of this type of neighborhood. We see Jane and Dick with their happy family, which is unrealistic, while Morrison describes a scene that I know I have personally witnessed in various towns, perhaps without the Hungarian baker. This creates an interesting dialogue, especially when each new chapter opens with a sentence from the Dick-and -Jane opening scene.

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    1. I completely agree that the Dick and Jane excerpt is an idealistic and unrealistic perception of how living ought to be. I think that was the whole purpose of having each chapter begin with an excerpt from the children’s story is to reveal how the white ideal of beauty effects how people of color think.

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  16. 1) The first opening depicts the “perfect family”, with a happy husband and wife, a cat, and children. This happiness is shown on the surface, as the stereotypical depiction of the perfect family is shown through the eyes of one of the family’s children. This is supported by the fact that the syntax is quite simple, and reads like a children’s book. An example of this occurs in the sentence “Mother father Dick and Jane live in the green-and-white house they are very happy (p.19 in my book).” The phrases are repeated 3 times, each time getting progressively more grammatically incorrect. This is perhaps done to emphasize the age of the narrator. Because the family is viewed through the eyes of a child, the opinion of their happiness is oversimplified, due to the fact that he/she has yet to deal with the complex realities of the “real world”. In comparison to the first opening, the mood of the second is drastically different. “There were no marigolds in the Fall of 1941 (p.20).” “We thought it was because Pecola was having her father’s baby that the marigolds did not grow (p.20).” The book then reads, “much less melancholy would have proved… (p.20).” Clearly, the family is now in a time of worry and despair, a stark contrast from the blissful tone of the first opening. The narrator is obviously more mature, as the reality and details of the situation are more clear. The intense shift in tone provides commentary on the first opening, as it demonstrates how the family is not perfect, nor absolute in their happiness, despite possibly looking that way on the surface.
    2) In relation the the child’s Dick and Jane primer, a sentence that reads “we do not, cannot know the meanings of all their words, for we are nine and ten years old (p.30).” The narrator goes on to describe the parents’ laughter, calling it “warm-pulsed laughter, like a heart made of jelly (p.30).” This is reminiscent of the opening of the novel, as it too is told in a child’s perspective. A child is unable to process the problems of adults, i.e. their parents. The emotions are clear to them, but they do not understand the context. The words “warm-pulsed laughter” lets off a cheery and calm vibe, much like the opening, which often uses the words “happy” and “laugh” (p.20). Ironically, and in actuality, the family is going through a myriad of issues and misfortunes.

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  17. The two opening sections do not seem to be too similar to each other. The only relation I was able to find between the two was the quote that says “She has a red dress” which seems to be related to the second opening’s quote “We thought, at the time, that it was because Pecola was having her father’s baby that the marigolds did not grow.” The opening section seems to be related to the second opening of the novel because the day that Pecola begins to menstruate she stains her clothing, “A brownish-red stain discolored the back of her dress” (Morrison 27) and Frieda believes that Pecola is going to have a baby, “Noooo. You won’t die. It just means you can have a baby!”(Morrison 28).
    The opening excerpt from the child’s Dick-and-Jane primer which says “Here is the house. It is green and white. It has a red door. It is very pretty. Here is the family” reminds me of Claudia’s home which she describes as “Our house is old, cold, and green” (Morrison 10). The Dick-and-Jane primer seems to be related to this excerpt because both describe a family home which is green.

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  18. How does the opening section (the first two pages) relate to the second ‘opening’ of the novel? What connections can you see between them? Quote and analyze passages.
    The tone of the opening section is a reminder that the story is going to be told from a child’s perspective. The short and condensed sentences are easy to read because it is from a children’s book. “Here is the family. Mother, Father, Dick, and Jane live in the green-and-white house. They are very happy” (Morrison 3). The simplistic style of the first introduction is relevant to how simplistic a child’s world should be however that illusion is quickly shattered when the second introduction is written in a rush and hurried manner. “Hereisthehouseitisgreenandwhiteithasareddooritisveryprettyhereisthefamilymotherfatherdick” may be an allusion to how the children in the story are being pressured to grow up much quicker than even their parents are realizing. In my opinion, this paragraph alone sets a tone for anxiety and a loss of control which is contradicting what is being perceived in the first paragraph.

    “When the deep purple falls over sleepy garden walls, someone thinks of me . . . .”(Morrison 13) is the lyric that Claudia’s sister Frieda sings to her as she’s sick in bed trying to fall asleep. The sorrow in her voice depicts the loneliness both of the sister’s share. They feel invisible in the “adult world” and wish to share a stronger connection with their mother. Their shortcomings and sorrows are masked by their determination to look for love in where ever they go by maintaining their innocence as a child. The Dick-and-Jane primer depicts a family white family that is living a seemingly simple life, however, this does not depict the Breedlove’s family and only enforces the illusion that only white and privileged is beautiful.

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  19. 1. In the first opening section, we are introduced to Dick, Jane, and their parents. In this section, there is much repetition that mainly focuses on Jane. Phrases such as and similar to “will you play with Jane?” are constantly asked but never answered as Jane makes her way to each member of her family. Similarly, in the second ‘opening’ of the novel, Pecola is the one that is focused on. In this case, references to Pecola’s various issues. The speaker states “What is clear now is that of all of that hope, fear, lust, love, and grief, nothing remains but Pecola and the unyielding earth.” It looks as if each of these references could represent stages of Pecola’s life and things she ran to looking for attention but still was never able to find the attention she was longing for. Penola and Jane are similar in the fact that they are both seeking attention from various places but do not seem to find it.

    2.In the excerpt from Dick and Jane, the initial introduction of the family mirrors the longing Ms. Breedlove longs for in a family. The opening states “Here is the family, Mother, Father, Dick, and Jane live in the green-and-white house. They are very happy” (Morrison, 3). The family seems perfect and without any flaw and the ideal white family—something that is desired by Ms. Breedlove. Ms. Breedlove longed for the white ideal of beauty and it was even furthered through the media. She would go to the movies and see “white men taking such good care of they women, and they all dressed up in big clean houses…them pictures gave [her] a lot of pleasure, but it made coming home hard, and looking at Cholly hard” (123). The white ideal of beauty effects Ms. Breedlove so much that it has become this fantasy and unhealthy obsession of hers that forbids her to accept the reality of her life and is reflected in the relationship between her and her husband, her children and their lives. The speaker says “Into her son she beat a loud desire to run away, and into her daughter she beat a fear of growing up, fear of other people, fear of life” (128). Ms. Breedlove was so unhappy with her life that she took it out on her family and wounded them deeply.

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    1. I did not think about it too much, but I agree that the comparison between Jane and Pecola is that they both seek attention and it never seems to be satisfied. I do not think anyone has brought it up, but I want to understand why Morrison even has the short story with Dick and Jane to begin with. Although it parallels Pecola’s story, I think the book could benefit from not including the story since it makes things less subtle. I am assuming I am missing something but the introduction of the book along with Dick and Jane’s story seems to spell out each and every theme we will read about in the book, which spoils it for me a bit.

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      1. Well, I think the reason Morrison included Dick and Jane in the beginning and used it as chapter titles is to show how the white ideal of beauty effected the African American population and how it was impossible to reach.

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      2. For whatever reason, I am unable to reply to your comment directly, vcoronado2. I wanted to say thank you for this short reply, it helped me better appreciate why Morrison has the Dick and Jane story in her book.

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  20. 1) How does the opening section (the first two pages) relate to the second ‘opening’ of the novel? What connections can you see between them? Quote and analyze passages.

    Coming from The Crying of Lot 49, I was relieved that this opening was actually straight forward, but frowned as soon as the grammar began to deteriate at its repetition, then come together at once. We can say that this is reminescent of stream of consciousness, however, just as The Sound and The Fury did similarly. The structure falling apart is very similar to what is happening to the main character of The Bluest Eye. The opening itself is quite naive, told from a child’s perspective of what her family is. Like Pecola, she is innocent, but the passage eventually seems to denote the child’s world falling apart. This is perhaps foreshadowing of seeing her world in a different lens (which I will address in the second question). The story is told from the perspective of Claudia MacTeer, who we could say is quite rebellious but still as naive. We can see early in the first Autumn chapter that she often destroyed dolls, since she does not seem to like them. She is rather chaotic, but she knows that she does not like the idealness of white baby dolls, expressed by her asking “What made people look at them and say, ‘Awwwwww,’, but not for me? (22)” We could perhaps link the opening and Claudia’s perspective of dolls as her not liking the “ideal” set up for a family. The opening is perfect, but because it is, she feels envy towards it.

    2) How does one excerpt from the child’s Dick-and-Jane primer relate to one section it prefaces, from page 9-131? Please try NOT to choose the same section as your classmates. Quote and analyze evidence.

    As said in the previous answer, the beginning section proposes the perfect family and the ideal that is told in stories. Pecola’s family, however, is anything but perfect. Pecola’s mother and father often fight with one another, with the father often coming home drunk. One thing that should absolutely be noted as well, is that Pecola and her family are black as well. While the narrator, Claudia, resents the ideal of the perfect white family (white skin, blonde, blue-eyes), Pecola instead idealizes it. We can see a parallel whenever we peer into Pecola’s thoughts. “Pretty eyes, Pretty blue eyes. Big blue pretty eyes. Run, Jip, run. Kip runs, Alice runs. Alice has blue eyes… (46)” This prayer, which is quite repititious, is a large part of Pecola’s character, and even parallels with the opening part of the story. The irony of this, I would think, is that she is told pretty-eyed by others within the story as well.

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  21. Morrison mentions in her preface of the book, or the Foreword, that nearly everyone has been “rejected, momentarily or for sustain periods of time”, and goes on to explain how this relates to the book (Pg. 1). She explains that someone she knew when she was young wished to have blue eyes, and the desire for this troubled her, and The Bluest Eye was attempt to understand or explain this. The short two-page story in the beginning and the introduction that follows details Morrison’s feelings about rejection concisely. In the first story, the main character Jane wants to play and is rejected in every attempt. When she asks for her mother or father to play it is described that “Mother laughs” and “Father smiles” but the story ends with a “friend” coming to play, ending the rejection from her mother, father, the cat, and the dog. Similarly, in the introduction with Pecola, there is the mention planting seeds that never sprout anything. As Jane in the first story is rejected, so are the seeds by the world as it is “unyielding”. As the world may not accept the seeds, Jane’s parents, the dog, and the cat represent the world from the second story. I may be trying too hard to connect the story of Jane to the introduction, but because of how dark the introduction is, I believe the story of Jane has hidden meaning as well. In the introduction, Pecola has been raped, and there is a loss of innocence. The story of Jane is innocent in that at face value it is blunt, and we could assume that it has a happy ending because a friend comes along. However, in the first section of the book Pecola has a period and her and her friends discuss how she would have a baby. When Frieda tells her that “somebody has to love you” she asks, “How do you do that?” (Pg. 32). Since Morrison intends for the short story with Jane to connect to the overarching story of Pecola, I imagine the ending of Jane’s story is not actually so innocent, and the friend that comes along may have malicious intent, further connecting Jane and Pecola’s stories. While Jane’s story is told bluntly and in a childlike manner, the introduction, or Pecola’s story, represents the second half of Jane’s, when the loss of innocence occurs.
    The “SEEMTOHERMOTHERISVERYNICEMOTHERWILLYOUPLAYWITHJANEMOTHERLAUGHSLAUGHMOTHERLAUGHLA” section of the book starts off with Pauline. “She alone of all the children had no nick name”, which again brings up the idea of rejection (Pg. 111). It relates to the mother laughing at Jane trying to get her to play with her because she is different from the other children and there is an aspect of isolation because she misses out on what other children get to be a part of. Even Pauline’s story relates to Jane’s slightly, as she mentions being lonely up north, saying, “I didn’t even have a cat to talk to”, which I am assuming is related to Jane trying to get the cat to play with her (Pg. 117). Throughout the section, it feels that Pauline becomes the mother that ignores Jane. It is even described that “More and more she neglected her house, her children… they were like the afterthoughts one has just before sleep” (Pg. 127). She gets caught up in herself, and thinks that telling her children not to be like their father means she pays attention to them, but unknowingly turns herself into the same mother that subconsciously ignores her children’s longing for attention. In the end, when she is with Cholly, she says, “Only thing I miss sometimes is that rainbow” (Pg. 131). Everyone in the book is so caught up in themselves and trying to find meaning that they do not realize that their lack of attention towards others hurts themselves, too.

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  22. The primer used in the first two pages is a symbolic indicator of the mental torment experienced by the African American children in the story.  “[L]ook look here comes a friend the friend will play with jane they will play good game play jane play Hereisthehouseitisgreenandwhiteithasareddooritisverypretty.” (Morrison 2).  It digresses from flawless puritan prose, to jumbled but still understandable verse – ultimately into enjambed, capitalized single sentences.  These elicit a frustrations of a compounding understanding of the disparity between black people and white people.  

    As the novel begins, we are thrust into hard-to-understand ignorant verse.  It becomes difficult to comprehend because we assume Pecula’s disposition.  She speaks with terrible grammar in a hard to follow narrative.  Her descriptions are predicated on stimuli and result in the reader having to reread the entries to understand them.

    “This disrupter of seasons was a new girl in school named Maureen Peal. A high-yellow dream child with long brown hair braided into two lynch ropes that hung down her back. She was rich, at least by our standards, as rich as the richest of the white girls, swaddled in comfort and care.”   (Morrison 62).  This verse is descriptive in the way the primer was trying to be.  That is to say it assumes the hatred and frustration the prior was implicitly saying.

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