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Narrative Voice in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye Essay

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 The narration of Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye is actually a compilation of many different voices. The novel shifts between Claudia MacTeer's first person narrative and an omniscient narrator. At the end of the novel, the omniscient voice and Claudia's narrative merge, and the reader realizes this is an older Claudia looking back on her childhood (Peach 25). Morrison uses multiple narrators in order to gain greater validity for her story. According to Philip Page, even though the voices are divided, they combine to make a whole, and "this broader perspective also encompasses past and present... as well as the future of the grown-up Claudia" (55).

The first segment of each of the seasonal sections in the novel begins with Claudia's memories of that season as a young girl. Her first person narration gives a childlike perspective to the story, while the simple sentences echo the primer passages (Bellamy 22): "Our house is old, cold, and green. At night a kerosene lamp lights one large room... Adults do not talk to us - they give us directions" (10). Linda Wagner views the order of details in the novel as one a child would choose (Bellamy 22). For example, while some of the key plot elements in the novel are saved for the end, such as Pecola's being sexually abused by her father or her slow descent into insanity, other comparatively less important details are given precedent, such as Pecola ministratin' (menstruating) for the first time or the incident with Maureen Peal. Yet this childlike perspective is not consistent throughout the novel, as Claudia's perceptions are too often far beyond the capabilities of a child (Bellamy 22). Her opening sentence for "Autumn" is as follows: "Nuns go by quiet as lust, and drunken men with so...


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...n the ironically-named Breedlove family should impregnate his own daughter" (Peach 27) and how Claudia and everyone else were also involved in Pecola's tragedy. The three narrators, the younger Claudia, the omniscient voice, and the older Claudia, combine to give a view of the past, present, and future within the novel and increase the validity of the story. As Valerie Smith contends, "the narrative process leads to self-knowledge because it forces acceptance and understanding of the past" (Page 55).

 
Works Cited:

Bellamy, Maria Rice. “These Careful Words . . . Will Talk to Themselves”: Textual Remains and Reader Responsibility in Toni Morrison’s A Mercy. Web 23 May 2015
http://www.cambridgescholars.com/download/sample/58336


Morrison, Tony. 1994. The Bluest Eye. New York: Penguin.

Peach, Linden. Toni Morrison. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995.



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