Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye tells the sad story of Pecola Breedlove, a poor prepubescent black girl, who wants to be loved and cared for by her family and society. She is a very dark skinned black girl and is ridiculed, and hated by her community because of this. She idolizes images of blond haired, blue-eyed white girls like Shirley Temple. She believes having bright, beautiful, blue eyes will make people love and care for her. Her mother, Pauline, reinforces this belief by dedicating her life to this rich white family and doting over their blond, blue-eyed little girl, while at the same time completely ignoring her own little girl. After being raped and impregnated by her father she is asked to leave school. The child is stillborn and Pecola goes insane withdrawing into a fantasy world where she has the bluest eyes of all. .
Morrison makes strong social statements about race, beauty, and abandonment in our society through the sad, sometimes exaggerated story of Pecola Breedlove. Morrison has stated that the book is about one's dependency on the world for identification, self-value, and feelings of worth. While no one would argue this isn't true, she is also placing blame on society for forcing a fixed image of beauty on an individual. It is very easy for one to make the argument that Morrison is making social commentary on the injustice white Americans have caused black people (i.e. forcing blacks to deny their natural beauty in order to placate white expectation.) However, in this novel Morrison is placing the spot light on African-Americans and how racism within the race accelerates their self destruction. In this story, postwar middle-American black communities use the image of Shirley Temple in the same way southern creoles created the infamous "paper bag test- to exclude darker skinned blacks from the higher tiers of African American society. The story is about the unraveling of society's lowest of the low: a black female child.