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Readers of Toni Morrisons first novel The Bluest Eye are often so overwhelmed by the narratives emotional content--the child Pecolas incestuous rape ensuing pregnancy and subsequent abandonment by her community and descent into madness--that they miss the music in this lyrically songified narrative 1 Morrison has stated that her narrative effort is to be like something that has probably only been fully expressed perhaps in music Interview 408 The Bluest Eye is the genesis of her effort to do what the music did for blacks what we used to be able to do with each other in private and in that civilization that existed underneath the white civilization Morrison Language 371 The catharsis and the transmission of cultural knowledge and values that have always been central to the blues form the thematic and rhetorical underpinnings of The Bluest Eye The narratives structure follows a pattern common to traditional blues lyrics a movement from an initial emphasis on loss to a conclud ing suggestion of resolution of grief through motion In between its initial statement of loss and its final emphasis on movin on The Bluest Eye contains an abundance of cultural wisdom The blues lyrics that punctuate the narrative at critical points suggest a system of folk knowledge and values that is crucial to a young black womans survival in the 1930s and 40s and which supports Claudias cathartic role as storyteller The lyrics also illustrate the folk knowledge and values that are not transmitted to Pecola--information without which she cannot survive as a whole and healthy human being
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