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Lesson+9The Bluest Eye

Lesson Nine The Bluest Eye
Toni Morrison

? Objectives
Students will be able to: 1. grasp the theme of the novel and the main idea of the excerpts (theme: the tragic experience of growing up black in a society dominated by white, middle-class ideology. Main idea of the excerpts: In American society of 1930s-40s where racial prejudice prevailed and the dominant white culture dictated standards of beauty, many black people, as represented by brown girls in the excerpts, accepted and internalized white values and developed self-contempt and self-hatred for themselves or other black people. ); 2. broaden their knowledge about the African-American literature and conditions of the black people before the Civil Right Movements ( compare this novel with tow pieces of works in Book 5, i.e. Where Do We Go from Here? by Martin Luther King and Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison ); 3. appreciate the major features of the work (e.g. unique angle of exploration, symbolism and imagery, metaphorical language, realistic details, skillful characterization of a type of people, smooth transaction from a type to an individual); 4. get familiar with the modern writing ―tricks‖ experimented and exploited in this story (vague references, ambiguities, symbolism, imagery, experimental point of view, jumbled time sequences, avoidance of clear transitions, withholding of vital information) and understand their functions (inviting readers to participate in the process of seeking the truths of the inner life of the characters); 5. get some knowledge of the Gothic literature(its typical form and major features, its function and position in literature) ; 6. conduct a series of reading, listening, speaking and writing activities related to the theme of the unit. Time allotment: The teaching plan is to be carried out within 8 periods.

About the author Toni Morrison has a unique stature in American literature. She is the winner of the National Book Critic Circle Award (1977), the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1988) and many other literary awards. She was granted the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993, thus becoming the first African-American writer to receive this honor. She has published 7 novels, a musical, a play, and a collection of critical essays. Her devoted readers are found all over the world, and they include both sexes and all colors, ages and creeds. A member of both the National Council on the Arts and the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, Morrison has actively used her influence to

encourage the publication of other African-American writers. Toni Morrison was born Chloe Anthony Wofford in Lorain, Ohio in 1931. She came from a family of sharecroppers, who moved from the South to Ohio to escape Southern racism. At the age of 18 Morrison went to Washington, D.C. to attend Howard University, the most distinguished black college in America, where she became interested in the stage and joined the Howard University Players. After she earned a B.A. in English from Howard she went to Cornell University for graduate studies in English literature. Upon receiving a M.A. from Cornell, she began her teaching career. From 1955-57 she taught English at Texas Southern University, and from 1957-64 she taught at Howard. In 1965, she became a senior editor at Random House, where she edited a number of African-American writers. In 1958 she married Harold Morrison, a Jamaican architect and had two sons. In 1964 they divorced and she raised the two sons by herself. She began writing in 1962. Her first work was a short story, which would later develop into her first novel The Bluest Eye (1970). It tells the story of a little black girl named Pecola Breedlove, who yearned to have the blue eyes of a white girl. She believes she will lead a happy life if only she has beautiful blue eyes. In 1971 Morrison resumed her teaching career, teaching English at University of New York, serving as a visiting professor at Yale from 1976 to 78, at the State University of Yew York at Albany from 1984 –89. Since 1989 she has been teaching at Princeton University as a member of the program in African-American studies and of the creative writing department. Meanwhile she continued her writing. Her next novel, Sula (1974) examines the friendship between two black women Sula and Nel, and depicts how they have grown up together but taken different roads of life in their maturity. The novel won the National Book Critic Award. The Song of Solomon, published in 1977, was a greater success than her previous novels. Set in Michigan in the early 1930s, the novel is narrated from a male point of view. In his efforts to recover his ancestor’s properties, a sack of gold, Milkman Dead rediscovers his racial roots and cultural identity. The novel was a Book-of the-Month Club selection, and it placed Toni Morrison in the first rank of American novelists. Tar Baby came out in 1981. Unlike her previous novels, this book has characters both black and white. By juxtaposing them in the central conflict of the plot, the author dramatizes the racial complexities that characterize the American cultural landscape. Published in 1987, Morrison’s next work Beloved deals with slavery and infanticide. It was another triumph and the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The protagonist Sethe has run away from slavery and is seeking refuge in Ohio. When the slave masters search for her, she kills her baby girl in order to save her from slavery she has just escaped. However, The ghost of the baby ―Beloved,‖ a name written on her tombstone, comes back to haunt her. In Jazz (1992), Joe, the unfaithful husband of Violet, kills a girl he loves so much in a fit of passion. The fragmented narrative gradually unfolds, showing how and why this tragedy happened in Harlem, New York. Paradise (1998) is the most recent work by Toni Morrison. Moving freely between eras, the author explores the founding of Ruby, a tiny all-black farming community in Oklahoma, and its ancestral feuds and financial quarrels.

Morrison’s novels are mostly set in a black community in the thirties or forties, but they do not merely tell stories about a particular community during a particular period. She does far more than just tell good stories. When talking about the novel, she says, ―It should be beautiful, and powerful, but it should also work. It should have something in it that enlightens; something in it that opens the door and points the way. Something in it that suggests what the conflicts are, what the problems are. But it need not solve those problems because it is not a case study, it is not a recipe.…If anything I do, in the way of writing (or whatever I write) isn’t about the village or the community or about you, then it is not about anything. I am not interested in indulging myself in some private, closed exercise of my imagination that fulfills only the obligation of my personal dreams—which is to say yes, the work must be political.…It seems to me that the best art is political and you ought to be able to make it unquestionably political and irrevocably beautiful at the same time.‖ (―Rootedness: The Ancestor as Foundation‖) The Nobel Prize presentation speech points out, ―In her depictions of the world of the black people, in life as in legend, Toni Morrison has given the Afro-American people their history back, piece by piece.‖ Yet, at the same time, her work is always symbolic of the shared human condition, transcending lines of gender, race, and class. The most enduring impression her novels leave is of ―empathy, of compassion with one’s fellow human beings.‖ About the novel The Bluest Eye Published in 1970, the novel has its setting in the black community in Lorain, Ohio, in 1941, long before the Civil Rights Movement. In those days, blackness was synonymous with ugliness. The dominant white culture exercised its hegemony and dictated standards of beauty. Many black people accepted and internalized white values and developed self-contempt and self-hatred for themselves or other black people, making some of their own people victims and scapegoats. To overthrow white cultural hegemony and liberate themselves from oppression and self-oppression, the black people raised the political slogan in the 1960s: ―Black is beautiful.‖ Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eyes depicts the pernicious psychological impact that the dominant white cultural values have had on black people. The story centers around the tragic life of a little black girl named Pecola Breedlove. The Breedloves are the poorest family of the town. They live in a storefront of an abandoned store. The place is so ugly that ―visitors who drive to this tiny town wonder why it has not been torn down, while pedestrians, who are residents of the neighborhood, simply look away when they pass it.‖ Pecola, eleven years old, is black and ugly. Her father, Cholly Breedlove, is driven to alcoholism by a life of appalling racial oppression. Once he burned up his house and turned his family outdoors. Her mother, Pauline, is driven by her husband’s rage and the unbearable misery of her life. She tries to escape from life and finds peace only in working as a servant in a white home. She gives more care and attention to her master’s children than her own little girl. The poverty-stricken and frustrated couple is constantly quarreling and fighting. They totally ignore their daughter Pecola. At school other children bully and ridicule her, calling her ugly. Imprisoned by dire poverty and

extreme misery, Pecola wishes for lighter skin, blond hair and especially blue eyes like movie star Shirley Temple and other white girls. Everyday she prays for a miracle to happen so that she is given a pair of the bluest eyes. She believes that her ugliness is the source of all her misery and that having blue eyes would be the key to happiness. She is convinced that if she had blue eyes, she would become pretty and happy and that all her problems would be gone. Finally, through madness, she thinks that her eyes have become blue. In her imagination she has been transformed into a pretty girl. As she is waiting for love and happiness to come to her, ironically her drunken father gets home, and gives ―love‖ to his daughter by raping her. The little girl becomes pregnant, she gives birth to a stillborn child. She sinks deeper into despair and madness. In the end of the novel, ―She was so sad to see. Grown people looked away; children, those who were not frightened by her, laughed outright…the damage done was total.‖ Pecola’s father dies in the workhouse; her mother still does housework. Pecola and her mother move to a little house on the edge of town. The black little girl is often seen picking her way ―between the tire rims and the sunflowers, among all the waste and beauty of the world—which is what she herself was.‖ The narrator planted some marigolds in the spring that year, but they never came out. Using the dead seeds of marigolds as a metaphor, the narrator observes in conclusion, ―I even think now that the land of the entire county was hostile to marigolds that year. This soil is bad for certain kinds of flowers. Certain seeds it will not nurture, certain fruit it will not bear, and when the land kills of its own volition, we acquiesce and say the victim had no right to live. We are wrong, of course, but it doesn’t matter. It’s too late. At least on the edge of my town, among the garbage and the sunflowers of my town, it’s much, much, much too late.‖ Pecola is a victim of racial oppression and a scapegoat for the self-oppression and self-hatred existing in the black community. The Bluest Eye gives voice to the experience of growing up black in a society dominated by white, middle-class ideology. Morrison once said, ―Beauty, love…actually, I think, all the time that I write, I’m writing about love or its absence.…I thought in The Bluest Eye, that I was writing about beauty, miracles, and self-images, about the way in which people can hurt each other about whether or not one is beautiful.‖ The author begins the novel with a simple primer text, one of the first things every American child reads when he/she begins school. This white, middle-class reader text goes like this: Here is the house. It is green and white. It has a red door. It is very pretty. Here is the family. Mother, Father, Dick, and Jane live in the green-and-white house. They are very happy. See Jane. She has a red dress. She wants to play. Who will play with Jane? See the cat. It goes meow-meow. Come and play. Come and play with Jane. The kitten will not play. See Mother. Mother is very nice. Mother, will you play with Jane? Mother laughs. Laugh, Mother, laugh. See Father. He is big and strong. Father, will you play with Jane? Father is smiling. Smile, Father, smile. See the dog. Bowwow goes the dog. Do you want to play with Jane? See the dog run. Run, dog, run. Look, look. Here comes a friend. The friend will play with Jane. They will play a good game. Play, Jane, play.

Morrison said in an interview, ―In Bluest Eye I used the primer story, with its picture of a happy family, as a frame acknowledging the outer civilization. The primer with white children was the way life was presented to the black people.‖ In reality, the black life is quite the opposite of the typical middle class white life described in the primer. Pecola is not Jane. She is a complete victim of the circumstances. Detailed study of the text Part I (Para.1-9) 1. How is the text structured? ? Taken from a novel, our text is not exactly like a complete, well-structured story. We may roughly divide the text into two parts. Paragraphs 1-9, which form the first section, describe a type of characters—the brown girls. Part two, from para.10 to the end, tells the story about what happens to the little black girl Pecola in the house of such a brown girl. Para.1 1. They come from Mobile, Aiken. From Newport News. From Marietta. From Meridian. ? They refer to a character type the author describes in this passage. The author points out, ―they are thin brown girls who have looked long at hollyhocks in the backyards of Meridian, Mobile, Aiken, and Baton Rouge.‖ (para.2) these brown girls have lighter skins than other black people because of their mixed blood. Many of them are descendents of former slaves who were house servants. Working in the house rather than in the fields, they were closer to their white slave owners than the field Negroes. It was a common thing for a white master to have babies with black maids. These house servants usually felt superior to field Negroes. ? The author mentions several places: Mobile (in southwest Alabama), Aiken (in west South Carolina), Newport News (in southeast Virginia), Marietta (in northwest Georgia) and Meridian (in east Mississippi). There is one thing in common about those places, that is, they are all towns in the Deep South, where slavery and the plantation system existed before the Civil War. The setting of the novel is an industrial town called Lorain in Ohio, (in the middle-west of the U.S. and different from the Deep South, though more conservative than the coastal area) 2. And the sounds of these places in their mouths make you think of love. ? When the brown girls pronounce the names of these places, they are full of affection and make other people associate these places with love. 3. … they tilt their heads and say ―Mobile‖ and you think you’ve been kissed. ? They say ―Mobile‖ with pride, ―you think you’ve been kissed‖ is another way of saying ―the sound of these places in their mouths make you think of love‖. 4. They say ―Aiken‖ and you see a white butterfly glance off a fence with a torn wing. ? glance off: to hit a surface at an angle and then move away from it in another

direction ? a white butterfly glance off a fence with a torn wing: here the author uses a butterfly with a torn wing as metaphor, meaning fragile beauty. That is, when they say ―Aiken‖, people will think of things with fragile beauty like a butterfly with a torn wing. ? The implied meaning is that life in the Deep South seems romantic and fills them with sentimental nostalgia, although life there is not easy. 5. ―Yes, I will‖ ? Again, this is associated with ―love‖. When a man proposes marriage, he asks the woman, ―Will you marry me?‖ if the woman agrees to marry him, her answer will be: ―Yes, I will.‖ In addition, when a woman gives such an answer, her voice must be very soft, tender, full of love, right? 6. … but you love what happens to the air when they open their lips and let the names ease out. ? That means they say those names in a very gentle and tender manner. Para.2 1. How does the author describe the brown girls from the Deep South cities in this paragraph? ? In this paragraph the author gives a general picture of who these brown girls are, what they are like, and how they live. The descriptions show that they are thoroughly assimilated into the white, middle-class way of life. 2. The sound of it opens the windows of a room like the first four notes of a hymn. ? hymn: a song of praise to God ? When one sings a hymn, the very first four notes will fill one’s heart with an air of freshness, just like opening a window of a room. The sound of the four-syllable name of Meridian has the same effect. 3. Perhaps because they don’t have home towns, just places where they were born. ? This is perhaps because they only have places of birth, but not places where they feel at home and which they identify themselves with. ? This sentence presumes that America is a mobile society in which people tend to move around instead of staying at one place all their lives. Note the difference between a place where one was born and a hometown. In American culture, a hometown may or may not be one’s place of birth. It is a place of personal experiences, a place where one feels most at home and which one identifies with most. In Chinese culture one’s hometown is one’s place of birth or one’s ancestral place along with one’s family and cultural roots. 4. But these girls soak up the juice of their home towns, and it never leaves them. ? juice: the essence of anything; (slang) power and influence ? But these girls are strongly influenced by their hometown, and the influence stays with them forever even after they leave their hometown. 5. They have the eyes of people who can tell what time it is by the color of the sky. ? that is, their eyes can tell what time it is by the … ? 他们的眼睛可以根据天空的颜色判断是什么时间了。


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Such girls live in quiet black neighborhoods where everybody is gainfully employed. Where there are porch swings hanging from chains. Where the grass is cut with a scythe, where rooster combs and sunflowers grow in the yards and pots of bleeding heart, ivy and mother-in-law tongue line the steps and windowsills. Where everybody is gainfully employed: where everybody has a well-paid and steady job. 每人都有一份好工作。 gainful: producing gain, profitable porch swings hanging from chains: 用铁链悬挂的游廊摇椅 rooster comb: 鸡冠花 also called cockscomb, rooster comb is an ornamental plant, with red, pink or yellow flower heads like a rooster ’s crest. Bleeding heart: 荷包牡丹 native to woodlands, bleeding heart is a common garden plant with the unique flowers which resemble tiny pink or white hearts with drops of blood at the bottom. Mother-in-law tongue: a tropical plant. It is said the plant is called mother-in-law’s tongue because the liquid this plant contains is so poisonous that a small dose of it in coffee or other drinks would paralyze the vocal cords of the person drinking it. All the details about the quiet black neighborhoods, porch swings, neatly cut grass and potted plants lining the steps and windowsills indicate that these brown girls live in pretty houses. According to the white middle-class values, a pretty and comfortable house is one of the essentials of a happy home. In the primer used at the beginning of the novel, the first thing of the happy family is a pretty house: ―here is the house. It is green and white. It has a red door. It is very pretty.‖ They have put in the window the cardboard sign that has a pound measure printed on each of three edges—10 Ibs, 25 Ibs.—and No ICE on the fourth. In those days when refrigerators were not available, iceboxes were used for keeping food cool. Every day the iceman would come to sell or deliver ice. These people, who could afford to buy ice, would put up a cardboard sign in the window to tell the iceman if they needed ice that day and how much. If they needed 25 pounds that day, they would turn the cardboard sign in a way so that the edge with 25 Ibs. would be shown on the top of the sign in an upright position. The edges with 10Ibs. and 50Ibs. would be on the side while No ICE would be upside down. And the iceman would know that he should deliver 20 pounds of ice. 他们在窗上挂了一块硬纸板做的牌子,上面的三边分别写着 10 磅,25 磅, 50 磅, 第四边写着“不要冰快” 。 These particular brown girls from Mobile and Aiken are not like some of their sisters. in a small town, the black people usually live close together within a few blocks in a neighborhood. They have a strong sense of neighborhood, or community. The women call one another ―sister‖. The brown girls from places like Mobile and Aiken are different from and feel superior to the other girls of their own race. They are as sweet and plain as buttercake. buttercake: a plain cake made of flour, sugar and butter The author compares these brown girls to a buttercake, describing them as being sweet but plain and ordinary, lacking special or exciting qualities.

10. they wash themselves with orange-colored Lifebuoy soap, dust themselves with Cashmere Bouquet talc, clean their teeth with salt on a piece of rag, soften their skin with Jergens Lotion. ? Lifebuoy soap, Cashmere Bouquet talc and Jergens Lotion are toilet articles that cost more and represent prestige, and are used by middle-class white people. These brown girls try to imitate the middle-class whites and to make themselves clean and pretty according to the standards of beauty set by the dominant culture. 11. They straighten their hair with Dixie Peach, and part it on the side. ? Like people of any race, the African-American people are born with certain physical traits. They have dark skin, broad nose, thick lips and curly hair. Some black people try to alter their appearance and look more like white people because they are told that white is beautiful while black is ugly. So, they whiten the skin, or have surgery that makes the nose narrower and higher, or straighten their hair and maybe dye it blond. (one of such people is Michael Jackson) Here in this story, the brown girls straighten their naturally curled hair with Dixie peach and part it one the side. These acts reflect the self-contempt existing in some African-Americans. 12. They do not drink, smoke, or swear, and they still call sex ―nookey‖. ? Drinking, smoking and swearing are considered to be bad behavior. Therefore these brown girls don’t drink, smoke or swear. They still think sex is vulgar and indecent. This is another example showing how the brown girls try to meet the conventional code of moral conduct by the puritan whites. 13. They sing second soprano in the choir, and although their voices are clear and steady, they are never picked to solo. ? second soprano: 第二女高音 ? choir: a group of singers organized and trained to sing together, especially in a church ? solo: to perform a solo 独唱 ? A choir of a black church is quite different from a choir of a white church. The former is much more lively and sings with passion. If any of our students have seen the movie ―Sister Act‖ starting the famous black actress Woopi Goldberg, they should remember how the black choir sings with vitality and passion. Although their voices are clear and steady, the brown girls in our story can only sing the second not the first soprano, not picked to perform a solo because the solo performer, who plays the leading role in the choir, should have not only a good voice, but also great passion. The brown girls may have the former but not the latter. Passion is something they tried very hard to restrain. 14. They are in the second row, white blouses starched, blue skirts almost purple from ironing. This is another detail showing these girls are neat and well-behaved. Para.3 1. What does the author tell us about the brown girls in para.3 and 4? ? In these two paragraphs the author shows that these brown girls have not only assimilated the way of life but also the ideology of the white middle-class. They

receive more formal school education than their poor sisters, and as a result they are more alienated from their black cultural heritage and try to ―get rid of the funkiness of passion, the funkiness of nature, the funkiness of the wide range of human emotions‖. 2. They go to land-grant colleges, normal schools, and learn how to do the white man’s work with refinement: home economics to prepare his food; teacher education to instruct black children in obedience; music to soothe the weary master and entertain his blunted soul. ? land-grant: an appropriation of public land by the government for a railroad, state college, etc. land-grant colleges and universities were originally founded as of the 1860s by such government land grants on condition that they offer instruction in agriculture and the mechanical arts. They are now supported by the individual states and they cost less than the more prestigious private colleges. ? Home economics: a science and art of homemaking, including nutrition, clothing, budgeting, and child care ? As these brown girls are from relatively better-of families, they receive more education than the worse-off blacks. They usually go to land-grant colleges or normal schools where teachers are trained. The purpose of their education is to prepare them to serve the white man with refinement. They major in home economics to do housekeeping for their masters. They are educated to be teachers so that the will teach the black children to be obedient. They are trained in music in order to entertain the white masters. ? 他们就读于政府拨地建造的大学以及师范学院。他们学习如何把服务白人的 工作做的更细致:学家政是为了给他们烧饭做菜;学当老师是为了教育黑人 孩子顺从;学音乐是为了让疲惫的主人身心放松,为他那已麻木的灵魂提供 消遣。 3. The careful development of thrift, patience, high morals, and good manners. ? This is an incomplete sentence. A complete sentence would be: The education they receive at home and at school helps them with a careful development of patience, high morals, and good manners. 4. In short, how to get rid of the funkiness. ? This is another incomplete sentence. A complete sentence would be: In short, the whole purpose of their education is to get rid of the funkiness. In the author’s opinion, getting rid of the funkiness is alienating from the black cultural heritage. ? funkiness: See Note12 to the text. Funkiness is obviously an important word in our text. It is repeated three times in the next sentence, and the word Funk is capitalized in Paragraph 4. Yet, it is hard to explain the exact meaning of this term, and even harder to find a single Chinese equivalent for it. Funky has several meanings. It is associated with a jazz style having an earthy quality derived from early blues or gospel music. It may mean unconventional, eccentric, offbeat, etc. It also may mean very emotional, informal, relaxed, casual, etc. Funk is associated with spontaneity and sensuality. A number of Chinese terms may be applied to describe funky: 自然原始的,朴实的,本性的,感官的,非传统的,奇特的, 无拘束的,非正式的,即兴的,随意的,等等。

5. The dreadful funkiness of passion, the funkiness of nature, the funkiness of the wide range of human emotions. ? The word ―dreadful‖ is said in an ironical tone. That is to say, in the eyes of the middle-class white people and in the eyes of the brown girls, the funkiness of passion, nature and a wide range of human emotions is dreadful. Therefore, ―wherever it erupts‖ they ―wipe it away.‖ (Para. 4) Para4 1. Wherever it erupts, this Funk, they wipe it away; wherever it crusts, they dissolve it; ---- They fight this battle all the way to the grave. The brown girls try hard to repress their emotions and passions. However, these natural human emotions cannot be wiped out totally. Sometimes they will emerge and burst out. And they will develop, become stronger and stay with them. So whenever and wherever this funk bursts out, the brown girls will do their best to stifle it. Then it emerges again, and they will kill it again. The brown girls have to fight the battle constantly all their lives because funkiness comes back naturally. 2. The laugh that is a little too loud; the enunciation a little too round; the gesture a little generous. They make sure that they don’t laugh too loudly, don’t speak with their mouths opened too round, and don’t make too generous gestures. 3. They hold their behind in for fear of a sway too free ? behind: (Informal) bottom, buttocks ? for fear of a sway too free: If a woman walks with a free sway, moving her buttocks from side to side too much, she will be considered to be sexy. And this is what the brown girls try to avoid. So they hold their buttocks in when walking. 4. ---when they wear lipstick, they never cover the entire mouth for fear of lips too thick As they have thick lips, the brown girls try to make their lips appear not so thick by covering only part of their lips with lipstick. (White people usually have thin lips.) 5. ---and they worry, worry, worry about the edges of their hair. What worries them most is their hair, which curls up at the edges. In Paragraph 2, we see the brown girls straighten their hair with Dixie Peach, and part it on the side like white girls. Para. 5 What is Paragraph 5 about? This paragraph tells us although these brown girls never seem to have boyfriends, they always marry and become good housewives. Several concrete examples are given to show that these women are good at housekeeping. Note that the author begins to shift the plural ―they‖ to the singular ―she‖ in this paragraph, preparing for talking about one of such girls named Geraldine from Paragraph 10. 1. There will be pretty paper flowers decorating the picture of his mother. The paper flowers imply that these girls’ way of life is not natural but artificial, in contrast to the funk. 2.---that their Sunday shirts will billow on hangers from the door jamb, stiffly starched and white

On Sundays, people go to church in their Sunday best. Men usually wear white shirts. In the morning, the wife gets the husband’s white shirt ready. She has starched it stiff and put it on hangers on the door jamb for the husband to put on before going to church. Para6 What does the author tell us in Paragraphs 6-9? What men do not know is that the brown girl will make her home her own inviolable world against any outsider, even against her husband. She runs the house in her own way. Although she keeps the house clean and tidy, she does not give it any warmth. 1.S1What they do not know is that this plain brown girl will build her nest stick by stick, --- and stand guard over its every plant, weed, and doily, even against him. ? ―What they do not know‖ is linked with the last sentence of the previous paragraph. Although they are right in thinking that the brown girl can keep the house well and bear children easily, they do not know the brown girl will build her nest bit by bit and defend it as her own fortress world. ? 他们有所不知的是,这个相貌平常的褐色皮肤的女孩将一点一点地筑起她的 小巢,把家变成属于她自己的、不可侵犯的小天地。她守护着家里的一草一 木,甚至对她的丈夫都有所防范。 2. A sidelong look will be enough to tell him to smoke on the back porch. ? She loves cleanness and does not allow smoking in her house. She has so much authority in the home that a sideways look will be enough to tell him to smoke on the back porch. ? 她斜眼看他一下就足以告诉他到房后的走廊上去抽烟。 3. Nor do they know that she will give her body sparingly and partially. As the brown girl defines sex as vulgar and indecent, she will not enjoy normal sexual life thoroughly and wholly but will restrain herself in making love with her husband. Para7 What is Paragraph 7 about? In this paragraph the author describes how a cat might engage the brown girl’s affections. In her stifled womanhood, she denies herself of normal sensual experience and therefore can only find occasional sensual delight in a cat. 1. Occasionally some living thing will engage her affections. In Paragraphs 5 and 6 we see how the brown girl takes good care of everything in the house. She ―stands guard over its every plant, weed, and doily.‖ But none of them are warm and alive. Occasionally some living thing, a cat, will engage her affections. 2. At her gentlest touch he will preen, stretch, and open his mouth. 当她轻轻地抚摸 他时,他会满意地舔舔毛,伸伸懒腰,张开嘴巴。 This shows the cat responded to her gentle touch with delight and satisfaction. 3. And she will accept the strangely pleasant sensation that comes when he writhes beneath her hand and flattens his eyes with a surfeit of sensual delight. ? writhe: to make twisting or turning movements ? surfeit: too great an amount; excess ? Note the use of the expressions of ―pleasant sensation‖ and ―sensual delight.‖ Sensual pleasures or delights are eruptions of the funkiness. The brown girl

attempts to stifle them consciously. But she is a human being after all. Subconsciously she still wants them. As she can’t enjoy them in her relationship with her husband in a normal and healthy way, she accepts them as they come when she is playing with the cat. The next sentence gives more details about her sensual delight with the cat. From these detailed descriptions we can see the brown girl transfers her sensual pleasures that she ought to share with her husband to an animal. By describing her affections for the cat the author intends to show how the false social values can distort womanhood. In this sense, the brown girls are victims of false social values. At the same time, as we see in later passages, this distorted personality victimizes other people, especially her own son. Para8 ---when the intruder comes home from work ? The intruder is her husband. The very use of the word ―intruder‖ shows the great psychological distance between her and her husband. She has built her nest, in which the only living thing that engages her affection is the cat. Before her husband comes home she has played and dozed with the cat. Para9 For she does bear a child—easily, and painlessly. But only one. A son. Named Junior. ? She gives birth to only one child, a son, to fulfill her wifely duty. Actually she is not interested in children and has no real affections for them. So she will not have more than one child if she can help it. ? Why is the son named Junior? The answer may be that the son is named Junior after his father, indicating the continuity of the family line. Or it can also be understood that she does not bother to think about another name for her son. She does not care whatever the baby is called. Part II (Para. 10-53) Para10 What is the function of Paragraph 10? This paragraph serves as a transition from the discussion of the brown girls in general to focusing on one particular brown girl—Geraldine, who lives in Lorain, Ohio with her husband Louis and her son Louis Junior. Ls There she built her nest, ironed shirts, potted bleeding hearts, played with her cat, and birthed Louis Junior. ? She is one of the regular brown girls who live a meaningless and monotonous life. Para11 1. Geraldine did not allow her baby, Junior, to cry. Like a typical brown girl, Geraldine did not allow any natural feelings to express themselves. So she even didn’t allow her baby to cry. 2. As long as his needs were physical, she could meet them—comfort and satiety. ? physical: As opposed to emotional. She could only satisfy his physical needs such as his desire for food, clothing, toys, etc. The implied meaning is that as a mother, she failed to meet her son’s emotional needs which are more essential for kids. ? satiety: the state of being satiated ? If his needs were physical, she could meet them. She could make him comfortable

and give him enough or even more than enough to satisfy his physical needs. 3. Geraldine did not talk to him, coo to him, or indulge him in kissing bouts, but she saw that every other desire was fulfilled. 她不对他讲话,不低声哄他,也不会时时 亲他,宠他。但是她能确保他的其他要求都得到满足。 ? bout: a period of time taken by some activity; e.g. a bout of shopping ? This sentence shows that Geraldine failed to give her baby tender, motherly love. 4. As he grew older, he learned how to direct his hatred of his mother to the cat, and spent some happy moments watching it suffer. 当他长大一点时, 他学会了如何把对 妈妈的仇恨发泄到猫的身上。当他看到那只猫受折磨时,他开心极了。 If you do not fill children’s heart with love, hatred will occupy it. The absence of love breeds hatred. As the boy did not know what to do about the situation, he learned to direct his hatred to the cat, which he thought had robbed him of his mother’s affections, and which was weaker and more helpless than he. It is terrible for a child to harbor hatred for his mother. And it is even more terrible for a child to direct his hatred to a cat. With this detail, the author shows that the distorted motherhood further distorted the personality of the child. This detail also prepares the reader for what is going to happen later in the story. Para12 1. monkey bars: an arrangement of horizontal and vertical bars erected as in a playground for children to climb on, swing from, etc. 2. White kids; his mother did not like him to play with niggers. The author emphasizes that the kids playing with him were white kids because his mother did not like him to play with black children. The word nigger, originally simply a dialectal variant of Negro, is today accepted only in black English; in all other contexts it is now generally regarded as virtually taboo because of the legacy of racial hatred that underlies the history of its use among whites. The narrator suggests that Geraldine used the word nigger, speaking like a racist white person, when she told her son not to play with black kids. 3. She had explained to him the difference between colored people and niggers. ? The definition of colored (有色人种) is of a group other than the Caucasoid. In North America, the term is mainly applied to the blacks. Several terms have been used to refer to the American black people. Colored is an old-fashioned term. The word Negro is defined as a member of any of the indigenous, dark-skinned people of Africa, living chiefly south of the Sahara Desert, or a person having some African ancestors; a black. As explained above, nigger was originally a variant of Negro but is now a taboo, an extremely offensive word for a black person. Black is widely used not only to refer to a black person but in certain set phases connected with the black people such as black power, meaning political and economic power as sought by black Americans in the struggle for civil rights. The most recent term is African-American, which is precise in meaning and connotes no prejudice. ? When Geraldine explained the difference between colored people and niggers, she tried to distinguish the black people with brown skins like herself from the rest of the other black people, implying the blacks with lighter skins were superior to

those with darker skins. 4. ---his hair was cut as close to his scalp as possible to avoid any suggestion of wool, the part was etched into his hair by the barber. 他的头发剪的很短,紧紧贴着头皮, 这样就显不出羊毛卷曲的样子,发缝是理发师特意修出来的。 ? In Paragraph 2, we see how the brown girls straighten their hair with Dixie Peach, and part it on the side. Geraldine must have done this to her hair. Now she was trying to make her son’s hair appear less like that of a black boy by having his hair cut short so that it is not long enough to curl up like wool and having a part cut into his hair by the barber. ? etch: to make a drawing, design, etc. on metal, glass, etc. by the action of an acid, especially by coating the surface with wax and letting acid eat into the lines or areas laid bare with a special needle; here used metaphorically to refer to the action of the barber’s scissors 5. The line between colored and nigger was not always clear; subtle and telltale signs threatened to erode it, and the watch had to be constant. 有色人与黑人的界线并不 总是分明,一些微妙的,能暴露秘密的迹象可能造成这一界线模糊不清,所以要 时时当心才是。 telltale: adj. revealing what is meant to be kept a secret Para13 1. More than anything in the world he wanted to play King of the Mountain and have them push him down the mound of dirt and roll over him. 他最喜欢玩“山大王”的 游戏,喜欢被他们推下土山坡、让他们滚在他身上。 ? King of the Mountain: a game in which each player attempts to climb to the top of a mound of earth and to prevent all others from pushing or pulling him/her off the top. The one who gets to the top wins the game and becomes the King. You can see this is a wild game played by boys. ? Geraldine put ideas of racial prejudice into her son’s mind. She also taught him to avoid the funkiness. When he was still a normally and innocent boy, he used to long to play with the black boys, and he experienced pleasure in playing with them. According to the brown girls, this was an instance of the eruption of the funkiness. Geraldine helped her son to get rid of it eventually. 2. He wanted to sit with them on curbstones and compare the sharpness of jackknives, the distance and arcs of spitting. 他想和他们坐在马路的石牙上,比谁的折叠刀最 锋利,谁的唾沫吐得最远,弧线最好。 ? Several details are mentioned here to show Junior was a normal boy and would have enjoyed doing things just as any other naughty boys would like to do. 3. He played only with Ralph Nisensky, who was two years younger, wore glasses, and didn’t want to do anything. ? Judging from the name, Nisensky was a white boy of European descent. He was different from the black boys Junior used to play with. He wore glasses, suggesting he was a good pupil who read a lot, and he was not wild or funky, but neat and quiet, and he didn’t want to do any of the things Junior would have liked to do with black boys. In short, he was just the type of boy Geraldine wanted her son to mix with.

Para15 She kept her head down as she walked. He had seen her many times before, ---Nobody ever played with her. Probably, he thought, because she was ugly. ? The black girl kept her head down, showing she was very timid and frightened. She was very lonely, too. At recess kids played together, but nobody ever played with her. She was ―ugly‖ because she was very black. All the kids, including Pecola herself, thought so because all of them were educated to internalize the white values that dictate standards of beauty. Para27 ―No. What is it?‖ ? When Junior asked, ―Say, you want to see something?‖ Pecola knew she’d better avoid this boy by declining the offer, and so she answered ―No.‖ But she couldn’t help asking, ―What is it?‖ out of curiosity like any other kid. Para31 ―Real kittens?‖ ? Little girls usually like kittens. Real kittens are too great a temptation for Pecola to resist. The mention of kittens reminds the reader of the primer at the beginning of the novel, which says, ―See Jane. She has a red dress. She wants to play. Who will play with Jane? See the cat. It goes meow-meow. Come and play. Come play with Jane.‖ After reading this part of the story, we know the author uses the primer ironically. Para35 1. How beautiful, she thought. What a beautiful house. When Pecola stepped into the house, she saw how pretty it was, and she was amazed at its beauty. As she was admiring the pretty house (a pretty house like the one described in the primer she learned to read at school), suddenly Junior threw a big cat in her face. Of course, it never occurred to Pecola that such a terrible thing would take place in this beautiful house. 2. There was a big red-gold Bible on the dining-room table…A color picture of Jesus Christ hung on a wall with the prettiest paper flowers fastened on the frame. The Bible, containing all the important teachings of Jesus Christ, is a symbol of Christian faith. However, the big red-gold Bible placed on the most conspicuous place in the room had become a showpiece. For the same purpose of showing off, a color picture of Jesus Christ hung on a wall with pretty paper flowers. It’s easy to see the irony here because Jesus Christ teaches love of one another, love of your neighbors, but what Junior and his mother did to Pecola later before the picture of Jesus is just the opposite. They have nothing but hatred for this little black girl. 3. She was deep in admiration of the flowers when Junior said, ―Here!‖ 她深深地沉浸在对花的欣赏中,突然,小路易喊道, “给你! ” 4. ---he screeched To screech is to make a very unpleasant, high noise with your voice, especially because one is angry. 5. She sucked in her breath in fear and surprise and felt fur in her mouth. 她又惊又怕,倒吸了口气,这时她感到嘴巴里有猫毛。

6. The cat clawed her face and chest in an effort to right itself, then leaped nimbly to the floor. 那猫抓她的脸和胸,拼命想站稳,然后敏捷地跳到地面上。 right itself: to restore itself in an upright or proper position Para36 1. S1 Junior was laughing and running around the room clutching his stomach delightedly. Junior was laughing so hard that his stomach ached. So he was running around the room clutching his stomach delightedly. Para37 ―You can’t get out. You’re my prisoner,‖ he said. His eyes were merry but hard. It’s terrible to see how a child could take delight in torturing another child. It proved Junior to be a cruel, heartless boy. His character was all distorted. By describing this cruel act, the author shows what pernicious impact a loveless mother could have on her child. In the primer used as an introduction to the novel, there are these lines: ―Here comes a friend. The friend will play with Jane. They will play a good game.‖ Junior, instead of being a friend who would play with Pecola, he played a nasty trick on her, and treated her cruelly as his prisoner. Para40 The blue eyes in the black face held her. 黑猫脸上的蓝眼睛吸引了她的注意力。 What Pecola desired most was a pair of blue eyes. Now she saw the blue eyes in the black face of the cat and she was attracted by them. Para42 1. His voice broke. His voice changed suddenly. When he saw the cat stretching its head and flattening its eyes, he suddenly became very angry because he had seen that expression many times as the animal responded to his mother’s touch. Until this moment he had watched Pecola suffer with delight. 2. With a movement both awkward and sure he snatched the cat by one of his hind legs and began to swing it around his head in a circle. 他用一个既别扭又有把握的 动作抓住猫的一条后腿,开始在头顶上一圈一圈地抡 Para43 The cat’s free paws were stiffened, ready to grab anything to restore balance, its mouth wide, its eyes blue streaks of horror. 那只猫的没被抓住的爪子变得僵硬,时 刻准备抓住任何可以使它恢复平衡的物体,它的嘴巴大张着,眼睛闪着一道道恐 怖的蓝光。 Para44 They both fell, and in falling, Junior let go the cat, which, having been released in mid-motion, was thrown full force against the window. 他们俩都摔倒了,小路易倒 下去时撒开了抓猫的手,那猫在转了一半时突然被放松了,结果,它结结实实地 摔到了窗户上。 Para48 1. She looked at Pecola. Saw the dirty torn dress, the plaits sticking out on her head, --- one of which had been walked down into the heel of the shoe. 她打量着佩克拉, 看见她穿着又脏又破的裙子,头上扎着小辫子,有几根已经散开了,头发乱糟糟

的,鞋上粘满了泥土,廉价的鞋底中露出一团胶块,袜子也是脏兮兮的,其中的 一只走路时滑到了鞋的后跟 This image of Pecola was disgusting to Geraldine. She had been trying hard to make everything, her house, her husband, her son, etc., clean and neat. Pecola represented an image of extreme ugliness and dire poverty, things she had avoided and hated all her life. 2. She saw the safety pin holding the hem of the dress up. Apparently the dress was not made for Pecola for it was too big for her. So a safety pin was used to hold the hem up. 3. She had seen this little girl all of her life. Geraldine had seen black girls like Pecola at many places and many times in the past. 4.Hanging out of windows over saloons in Mobile, crawling over the porches of shotgun houses on the edge of town, sitting in bus stations holding paper bags and crying to mothers who kept saying ―Shet up!‖ ? saloon: (Old-fashioned) a place where alcoholic drinks are sold to be drunk on the premises; bar ? shotgun houses: long, narrow houses with rooms arranged one behind the other ? ―Shet up!‖: ―Shut up‖ pronounced with a black accent ? These details further describe the type of girls Geraldine had known all of her life. In a black neighborhood of Mobile, where she came from, these girls could be seen everywhere. They might be hanging out of windows over saloons. They might be crawling over the porches of poor crowded houses on the edge of town. They might be waiting in bus stations with their mothers. 5. Eyes that questioned nothing and asked everything. ? This sentence contains an antithesis, a contrast of thoughts. The meaning of the sentence is ambiguous. One interpretation may be: On the one hand, they (girls like Pecola) were ignorant and uncomprehending. They did not question why their lives were so miserable. On the other hand, as they were poverty-stricken and practically had nothing, their eyes revealed their desire for anything that could make their lives easier. 6. Unblinking and unabashed, they stared up at her. ? unabashed: not embarrassed, not ill at ease, not self-conscious ? The little girls stared up at Geraldine in that way because Geraldine, who was nice, neat and brown, was so totally different from them that they were filled with surprise, curiosity and wonder. 7. The end of the world lay in their eyes, and the beginning, and all the waste in between. ? The author seems to say that in the eyes of these girls one can see that they were without any hope for the future and that their life would be nothing but a waste. Para49 1. They sat in little rows on street curbs, crowded into pews at church, taking space from the nice, neat, colored children; ---- made ice slides on the sloped sidewalks in winter.

? dime store: five-and-ten-cent store where supposedly everything costs only a few cents。 It’s something like our “一元店”. ? Geraldine listed things these black girls did to prove that they had no manners and were not nice and quiet like brown girls. 2. The girls grew up knowing nothing of girdles, and the boys announced their manhood by turning the bills of their caps backward. 这些女孩发育成大人了,却不 知紧身褡为何物。而男孩子把鸭舌帽的帽檐转到后脑勺就算宣布成人了 ? girdle: a piece of women’s underwear which fits tightly around her stomach, bottom and hips and makes her look in good figure ? As the girls were growing into young women, they had never worn girdles to make their figure look slimmer, and thus more elegant; and when the boys grew up, they just began to wear their caps with the bills turned backward to indicate that they had become adults. As we know, in some cultures, manhood is announced and celebrated with certain formal rites. However, for these poor black boys, there was no rite to mark this important stage of their lives, except for taking up some habits that adult men have, such as smoking or turning the bills of their caps backward. 3. Grass wouldn’t grow where they lived. Flowers died. Shades fell down. Tin cans and tires blossomed where they lived. ? On the surface, the sentence means that these children roamed around among garbage, thrown away tin cans and tires. They didn’t live in houses with well -cut grass and pretty flowers. On a deeper level, the sentence implies that Geraldine was blaming these black children for causing all the good things to die and bad things to happen in the black community. In other words, she blamed her own people for all the problems they encounter in society. ? These comments reveal a sense of self-hatred existing among some black or more precisely, brown people. In Hate Prejudice and Racism, Milton Kleg points out: ―Self-hatred refers to the condition whereby an individual attempts to blame his or her group for those problems encountered by acts of prejudice.‖ Self -hatred is a result of thorough assimilation into the dominant white culture and ideology and complete denial of one’s own racial roots and cultural heritage. Self -hatred is an important theme of Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye. By exploring self-hatred among the black people, Morrison’s fiction reveals the deep psychological injur y white racism has inflicted on African-Americans. Para50 ―You nasty little black bitch. Get out of my house.‖ ? Geraldine, who was supposed to have good manners, here used a very strong swearword for Pecola and ordered her to get out of her house at once. She hated this helpless black girl so much because this little girl reminded her of her racial origins and racial identity which she had been trying so hard to forget. Para52 1. Pecola backed out of the room, staring at the pretty milk-brown lady in the pretty gold-and-green house who was talking to her through the cat’s fur. ? Here the word ―pretty‖ is used twice, and the fact the brown lady talks through the

fur of the injured cat is emphasized. In this way a picture is created in contrast with the picture depicted in the primer used at the beginning of the novel, and an ironic effect is achieved. In the pretty green-and-white house, Jane lives happily with her mother and father, a kitten and a dog. The lovely kitten goes meow-meow. A friend comes and will play with Jane. In Geraldine’s pretty house, the cat was mistreated by Junior, and Pecola was bullied by him and cruelly treated and deeply hurt by both the mother and the boy. In the end, she was turned out of the pretty house. 2. Jesus looking down at her with sad and unsurprised eyes ? Although Jesus Christ felt sad and was sympathetic with Pecola, he was not surprised at what had happened in the house because he had seen too many tragedies in the world. Para53 Outside, the March wind blew into the rip in her dress. She held her head down against the cold. But she could not hold it low enough to avoid seeing the snowflakes falling and dying on the pavement. 外面,三月的风吹进了她撕破的衣裙。 她顶着 冷风,垂着头。不过,头垂得再低,她也看得到雪花纷纷飘落到人行便道上并立 刻消融。 ? In the concluding paragraph of the story, the author loads meanings into the description of how Pecola walked away from the house in cold wind. A cold wind was blowing and snow was falling. The snowflakes were falling and dying on the pavement. Why is the word ―dying‖ chosen for describing the falling snowflakes? Doesn’t that imply that something in the heart of Pecola also died? We can see that the cold wind and snow reflect the coldness Pecola felt after the event; the coldness in nature reflects the coldness in human relationships.

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