Group work on Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye

(If you weren't in class for the group work, please type up answers to the following questions.)

Break up into small groups. Discuss the following. Delegate one or more members of your group to prepare a summary of your group's discussion.

1. List four important characters in The Bluest Eye who experience deception, injustice or oppression . How, if at all, does each one resist the deception, injustice or oppression s/he is subject to? In the opinion of your group members, which characters are the most successful? Why?

2. Draw a pyramid hierarchical map of the power and prestige locations in the society described in The Bluest Eye. Try to draw a power/prestige pyramid of your high school, hometown, Le Moyne College, or some other community you know well. Discuss the pyramids your group produced. How do your two diagrams compare?  Do they have anything in common?  If so, what?  Can you think of a community for which this kind of diagram just does not make sense?

3. Consider contemporary media ideals. Are there any as invidious, dangerous, or powerful as those in The Bluest Eye ? If so, what are they? If not, is the absence of powerful idealizations a good thing?

4. Some argue that external idealizations become internalized, and thus contribute to the internalization of oppression. If this is so, how (if at all) does The Bluest Eye suggest we can resist this internalization?  How do you think successful resistance could or does occur? (If you don't think resistance is possible, explain why not.)

5.  Do you think there is a tendency for persecuted people to identify with their oppressors or their oppressors' claims about the persecuted?   Why would someone identify with their more powerful enemies and/or their beliefs?

Michael Kagan (
Philosophy 403, Heroism and the Human Spirit
Last revised February 7, 2008