My class is reading Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye (TBE) and two of my colleagues are reading/have read with their classes Beloved.
My students, as heterogeneous a bunch as you are going to find here, are enjoying the TBE and we are looking at the book through (as she suggests in the afterward) Morrison’s own lens of society and the expectations that are placed, not just on young women of color, but on young women and men everywhere to conform to ideas of beauty and behavior. When advertising for TiVo suggests that you can be a big man with your buddies and still have time for your woman, what does that say about who we are expected to be? We are expected to be consumers of television, consumers of sports (if a man), and heterosexual. We should have a big TV, and money for cable TV and TiVo because without them and the social currency of who won that game and how, we will not fit in.
So do I choose this contemporary story, with its indictment of SeeSpotRun and the Shirley Temple babydoll that all little girls are supposed to adore, and the secrets about Pecola and the marigolds (“Quiet as it’s kept…”) over Sethe, Denver, Baby Suggs and Beloved and the secrets of the house at 124? Both of them have the call to “love yourself.” Book orders, fortunately, are not due for a few weeks.