Toni Morrison has written several novels, many of which show the influence of existentialist thinking; however, Beloved and The Bluest Eye both strongly illustrate all of the major existential themes. Beloved is a novel about a woman, Sethe, who escapes from slavery with her children. She is haunted both physically and psychologically by her experience, as evidenced by the scars she carries on her back from a severe beating, and the scars she carries in her mind from the horrible treatment she suffered. A few weeks after her escape, Sethe's owner hunted her down to reclaim her as his property. Under the fear of capture, Sethe decided that for her children, death would be better than slavery. She killed her second-to-the-youngest child before she was stopped. Beloved is the story of Sethe, and how she must live with the ramifications of her terrible, necessary decision to kill her baby girl.
The Bluest Eye is a similarly haunting novel. It is the story of Pecola, a little ugly black girl trying to grow up in rural Ohio during the 1940's. She is despised by white society because
she is ugly, black and female, and because she is the antithesis of all that white western culture idolizes: white skin, blond hair, and blue eyes. On a disastrous parallel, Pecola is also despised by black society: the society whose support she needs desperately to counter white negativity towards her. Instead of receiving that life-giving support, Pecola is regarded as an ugly, passive, pitiful girl. Her mother, herself twisted by the ideals of white society, loves a young, white, blond child she cares for more than her own daughter. Her father loved her so much, he r...
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Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York, New York: Plume, 1988.
---. The Bluest Eye. New York, New York: Plume, 1994.
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