Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
In the afterword of The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison writes that, in the novel, she sought to focus “on how something as grotesque as the demonization of an entire race could take root inside the most delicate member of society: a child; the most vulnerable member: a female” (210). Through Morrison’s close-readings of her own novels, we know that—at the level of form—Morrison painstakingly crafts her novels with particular goals in mind, that the gaps she leaves are just as important as the stories she tells. Morrison’s female characters exist in these gaps, sometimes filling them and sometimes getting obscured by the literary shadows. The women on the margins of Morrison’s novels—mothers, daughters, and sisters—buttress plot development and provide necessary subjectivity in regard to their gendered and raced experiences. Toni Morrison’s treatment of certain female characters in The Bluest Eye and Song of Solomon simultaneously mirrors societal marginalization and elevates the voices of these “vulnerable” members of society. In the pages that follow, I explore the significance of these female characters by analyzing how Morrison’s narrative form ignores or neglects certain social actors, and by taking a closer look at the rarer moments in which Morrison gives these actors the opportunity to speak. Through an exploration of both novels, I suggest that Morrison’s character development and narrative form challenge the reader to become more aware of one’s own forgetting. By giving these characters limited space—in paragraphs, chapters, or entire sections—Morrison reminds us how utilizing different female voices and stories is necessary in representing the multitudes of standpoints and experiences that constitute American Blackness.
Rest, Rachel, "The Forgotten Women of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Song of Solomon" (2018). English Honors Theses. 7.