Each time I "teach" (and I use the word teach advisedly) The Bluest Eye to undergraduates, I stumble headlong into some reason why I would rather not. It use to be the problem of Cholly, the difficult and very unsympathetic father who rapes or molests Pecola, which results in her pregnancy. Although Morrison goes to extensive lengths to explain and illustrate how Cholly became himself, someone who would force himself on a vulnerable child who was his own daughter.
Not only do i know a Cholly, i have known many Chollys. The Bluest Eye
is like a menagerie of alternate species, not so different from the rest
of us but just different enough that we are willing to deny the related
genealogy. Teaching this is like teaching Kafka's Metamorphosis. Who
are those people? Who is that bug? Well they are you.
Teaching Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye
I am a writer and a professor of English at the City College of New York, and the CUNY Graduate Center. My books include Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman (1979), Invisibility Blues (1990), Black Popular Culture (1992), and Dark Designs and Visual Culture (2005). I write cultural criticism frequently and am currently working on a project on creativity and feminism among the women in my family, some of which is posted on the Soul Pictures blog.