Toni Morrison the first black woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, was born Chloe Anthony Wofford on February 18, 1931 in Lorain, Ohio. She was the second of four children to George and Ramah Wofford. Her parents moved to Ohio from the South to escape racism and to find better opportunities in the North.
Lorain was a small industrial town populated with immigrant Europeans, Mexicans and Southern blacks who lived next door to each other. Chloe attended an integrated school. In the first grade she was the only black student in her class and the only one who could read.
Chloe attended the prestigious Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she majored in English with a minor in classics. Since many people could not pronounce her name correctly she changed it to Toni, a shortened version of her middle name. Toni Wofford graduated Howard University in 1953 with a B.A. in English. She attended Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and received a master’s degree in 1955.
After graduating, Toni was offered a job at Texas Southern University in Houston where she taught introductory English. In 1957, she returned to Howard as a member of the faculty. At Howard she met and fell in love with a young Jamaican architect, Harold Morrison. They married in 1958 and had her first son in 1961. Toni continued to teach while taking care of here family, she also joined a small writer’s group as a temporary escape from an unhappy married life.
Each member was required to bring a story or poem for discussion. One week, having nothing to bring, she quickly wrote a story loosely based on a girl she knew in childhood who had prayed to have blue eyes. The story was well received by the group. Toni put it away thinking that she was done with it. When her sons where asleep, she started writing. She dusted off the story in which she had written for discussion in her writers group and decided to make it into a novel. She drew on her memories as a child and expanded on them with her imagination so the characters developed a life of their own. The Bluest Eye was published in 1970, too much critical acclaim, although it was not commercially successful.
The Bluest Eye is a novel of initiation set in Lorain, Ohio. Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl, desperately wants blue eyes, thinking that they would make her beautiful. She drinks several quarts of milk at the home of her friends Claudia and Frieda McTeer just to use their Shirley Temple mug and glaze at young Temple’s blue eyes. One day Pecola is raped by her father, when the child the she conceives dies, Pecola goes mad. She comes to believe that she has the bluest eyes of anyone.
In the novel, The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison incorporates various techniques, such as her use of...