The Bluest Eye

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

WebQuest for The Bluest Eye - Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison was born Chloe Anthony Wofford in Lorain, Ohio in 1931. Ironically, The Bluest Eye takes place in Lorain, Ohio in 1941 and is told from the perspective of a ten year old girl. Many say that this may be a semi-autobiographical novel. However, when she was still very young, Morrison and her parents moved to the North to escape Southern racism, so she grew up relatively unscarred from the extreme racism in the South. Morrison grew up reading author's ranging from Jane Austen to Leo Tolstoy. Morrison has taught at four different universities in the United States. She has written 6 major novels, as well as two plays and numerous essays. Morrison was granted the Pulitzer prize for literature in 1988 for her novel, Beloved, which was based on the story of Margaret Garner, an African-American slave woman. She was then was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1993, she was the first black woman to receive this honor. A major theme that runs through her novels is that of growing up poor, black and female in America. She is currently a professor at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey.

Steps in a WebQuest:


1. Read the book summary.

2. Search the hot sites and consider the story themes, events and characters.

3. Answer the questions in the quiz by creating a word document.

4. Visit the rubric to see the grading schedule.


Email the author  Shannon Lederer

Book Summary

Toni Morrison's novel, The Bluest Eye, is the story of Pecola Breedlove.  Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be beautiful, and in turn, be loved.  The story takes place in Lorain, Ohio in 1941.  Pecola is an African-American girl coming from a broken home.  Pecola's father is an alcoholic and he and her mother constantly fight both verbally and physically.  The story is told from the perspective of Pecola's friend Claudia MacTeer.  After Pecola's father goes to jail for some time, she goes to stay with the MacTeers.  This is the only time in her life that she is able to see what a "normal" family life is like.  Even though the MacTeers are poor-lower class, their family structure still has some sort of stability.  The fact that the narrator is a child has a huge impact on the novel as a whole.  The reader is better able to understand how much children are affected by their surroundings, something that we often overlook.  Too many times adults do not give children enough credit for being as perceptive to the world around them.  The little girls in the novel model their lives after their surroundings, like most children do.  Their sources of entertainment are white baby dolls and Shirley Temple films.  They are young African-American girls and have nothing in their lives to model themselves.  So, they are presented with a skewed notion that white is beautiful.  Throughout the novel, Morrison outlines issues of racism and child abuse as well as standards of beauty in American society. This is an important novel for mature audiences.  It would be most appropriate for young adults between the ages of 16-18.

Hot Sites

1.  A site dedicated to Shirley Temple.
2.  Kids write their opinions on a variety of subjects.  They can help one another understand certain issues they are dealing with.
3.  An article dealing with beauty standards.  Talks about how their is one global standard of beauty and the dangers this involves.
4.  This site has pop artists that are helping youths to fight racism.
5.  This site goes into the effects that images in teen magazines are having on adolescent girls.
6.  This site deals with the beauty of black hair.  It talks about how over time black women have changed their hair to look white.
7.  Home page for The Bluest Eye.  Includes snippets from the book and an author bio.
1.  Shirley Temple is an extremely popular icon from the 1940's.  Why is she significant to Toni Morrison's novel, The Bluest Eye?
2.  There is one response on the youth radio or opinions website dealing with eye color.  This particular person is dealing with an issue similar to what character in the novel?
3.  What media representations in the novel create a global standard of beauty like the one talked about in the Newsweek article?
4.  Role models are important to children.  What characters do you think serve as role models in the novel?
5.  Teen girls are flooded with images or standards of beauty from every angle.  What is one image that portrays this idea that you find particularly important in the novel?
6.  Over time, our society has accepted that a predominately white standard is what is beautiful.  In turn, if people don't fit this standard, they want to change.  Explain how the title correlates to this idea and maybe relate any of your own opinions, as well.
7.  The novel takes place in what time period?  How have some of the ideas presented changed since then?  How have some stayed the same?