Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Double Review: Beloved & The Bluest Eye

Beloved (1987)
Toni Morrison

No summaries are going to be posted: please click the book links for info on each particular book!

I decided to review both of these novels together because there is a lot to be said about Toni Morrison's writing in general, and because they both deal with some very similar themes and ideas.

I'm sure Beloved is the novel that most readers are familiar with; it is a contemporary classic. It was my favorite between the two, but The Bluest Eye still brought something new to the table: a different take on the effects of slavery and racism on black families in the United States. Taking place during the Great Depression, the slaves have all been freed for many years: but there are still racial issues, just as there still are issues today. The Bluest Eye was a great novel because it explored the racial issue in a different time period than it is normally looked at, and it did so through the use of a variety of perspectives. By telling the story from different character's positions, the reader is able to get a real idea of how things were, and the circumstances that led each character to where they are in the story. I found myself sympathetic to each and every character (with only one exception) and I loved the truth behind the story.

Beloved tackles the theme of racial issues that Morrison is famous for, and is set right after the Civil War. I loved this book because it deals with a very sensitive issue: slavery and motherhood. Is it better to keep a child in this world knowing that he/she will end up a slave, or is it better for the child to die so they don't have to live that way? That is a decision that is impossible for me to imagine: I am not a slave and I am not a mother, and so the whole concept is completely foreign, which is possibly why it appeals to me. Sethe, the main character who was faced with the choice to accept slavery for her child or not, ultimately chose to kill her baby. This book focuses on this choice, and whether you agree with it or not the story is fascinating.

Both books contain such great writing, with the changes in POV that I mentioned earlier, great imagery, and the exploration of important issues that would otherwise remain under the radar. I completely understand why Morrison is one of the greatest authors of our time, and I feel that everyone should read Beloved (and Morrison's other novels, which are perhaps not as perfect but still interesting) at least once in their life.


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