WORD LISTS

"The Bluest Eye," Vocabulary from the Foreword

May 9, 2013
The characters in "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison escape into fantasy to avoid the miseries of their real lives. Morrison expertly shows us how dangerous believing such a fantasy can be.

Learn this word list that focuses on the author's inspirations. Here are links to our word lists for the novel: Foreword, Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer
consolation
When this happens, it is some consolation to know that the dislike or hatred is unjustified—that you don’t deserve it.
loathing
I knew that some victims of powerful self- loathing turn out to be dangerous, violent, reproducing the enemy who has humiliated them over and over.
vulnerability
Couple the vulnerability of youth with indifferent parents, dismissive adults, and a world, which, in its language, laws, and images, re-enforces despair, and the journey to destruction is sealed.
bleak
Begun as a bleak narrative of psychological murder, the main character could not stand alone since her passivity made her a narrative void.
passivity
In the example sentence, "the main character" is the noun phrase that actively connects to the verb phrase "could not stand alone." While her passivity might make her a "narrative void", she is not the "bleak narrative of psychological murder"--that is a description that should've applied to the entire novel. (Watch out for misplaced modifiers)
Begun as a bleak narrative of psychological murder, the main character could not stand alone since her passivity made her a narrative void.
void
Begun as a bleak narrative of psychological murder, the main character could not stand alone since her passivity made her a narrative void.
plight
So I invented friends, classmates, who understood, even sympathized, with her plight, but had the benefit of supportive parents and a feistiness all their own.
desecration
The use of the word "desecration" to describe the wish for blue eyes seems like an exaggeration, but it emphasizes the author's outrage at her friend for not believing that her God-given eyes were good enough. The idea of desecration also connects to the desired color. If her friend had wished for silver eyes, that would not be so blasphemous, because nobody has silver eyes. But to wish for an eye color that is characteristic of another race is saying that your own race is not beautiful.
The sorrow in her voice seemed to call for sympathy, and I faked it for her, but, astonished by the desecration she proposed, I “got mad” at her instead.
alteration
The Bluest Eye was my effort to say something about that; to say something about why she had not, or possibly ever would have, the experience of what she possessed and also why she prayed for so radical an alteration.
implicit
Implicit in her desire was racial self-loathing.
condemn
The novel pecks away at the gaze that condemned her.
reclamation
The reclamation of racial beauty in the sixties stirred these thoughts, made me think about the necessity for the claim.
revile
Why, although reviled by others, could this beauty not be taken for granted within the community?
articulation
Why did it need wide public articulation to exist?
foible
The assertion of racial beauty was not a reaction to the self-mocking, humorous critique of cultural/racial foibles common in all groups, but against the damaging internalization of assumptions of immutable inferiority originating in an outside gaze.
immutable
The assertion of racial beauty was not a reaction to the self-mocking, humorous critique of cultural/racial foibles common in all groups, but against the damaging internalization of assumptions of immutable inferiority originating in an outside gaze.
devastation
In trying to dramatize the devastation that even casual racial contempt can cause, I chose a unique situation, not a representative one.
singular
Another definition of "singular" is "being a single and separate person"--this adjective could describe the lonely nature of Pecola's life which, coupled with her unique situation, made her easy to wound.
But singular as Pecola’s life was, I believed some aspects of her woundability were lodged in all young girls.
complicity
In exploring the social and domestic aggression that could cause a child to literally fall apart, I mounted a series of rejections, some routine, some exceptional, some monstrous, all the while trying hard to avoid complicity in the demonization process Pecola was subjected to.
despise
Holding the despising glance while sabotaging it was difficult.
replicate
The novel tried to hit the raw nerve of racial self-contempt, expose it, then soothe it not with narcotics but with language that replicated the agency I discovered in my first experience of beauty.
indisputable
Because that moment was so racially infused (my revulsion at what my school friend wanted: very blue eyes in a very black skin; the harm she was doing to my concept of the beautiful), the struggle was for writing that was indisputably black.
aural
My choices of language (speakerly, aural, colloquial), my reliance for full comprehension on codes embedded in black culture, my effort to effect immediate coconspiracy and intimacy (without any distancing, explanatory fabric), as well as my attempt to shape a silence while breaking it are attempts to transfigure the complexity and wealth of Black American culture into a language worthy of the culture.
tenacity
Thinking back now on the problems expressive language presented to me, I am amazed by their currency, their tenacity.
debase
Hearing “civilized” languages debase humans, watching cultural exorcisms debase literature, seeing oneself preserved in the amber of disqualifying metaphors—I can say that my narrative project is as difficult today as it was then.

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