The Bluest Eye
The Bluest Eye is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Toni Morrison that explores a range of themes, such as beauty, rape and racism. The following series of activities outlines a few assignments that will help students engage with the novel and prepare for an individual oral on a passage from it.
Read the first chapter of the novel, titled 'Autumn'. What kinds of images do you notice as you read this novel? What do you 'see'? Make one or more drawings to show your understanding of the first chapter. You are assessed on your ability to draw, but to show your engagement with the text. Discuss your artwork with your classmates. Write about the images that you chose for your drawing in your portfolio. Why did you choose these images? How did you go about making your drawings / artwork? Which media did you find useful? Evaluate and reflect on your drawings under the 'so what' section of your portfolio. See the example here.
Example drawing of The Bluest Eye
Read the second chapter of the novel, titled 'Winter'. In groups of 3-4, create a common Google Doc. Each person writes one discussion question per chapter in the document. In other words, a group of 4 students would have 4 question on 'Autumn' and another 4 questions on 'Winter'. Your questions need to be open-ended, leading to analysis and interpretation (and not summary). Discuss your questions as a group over the course of several lessons. Take turns writing bullet-points answers to each question in the Google Doc during the discussion. Share some of the key questions and answers from your discussions with the rest of the class.
Read the third chapter from the novel, titled 'Spring'. By now you have been introduced to several characters. Select one of the characters and write 2-3 diary entries as your character would have written in a diary. These entries should be taken from different parts of the novel and show character development. In total, the entries should not exceed 1,000 words. In your portfolio explore 'why' you chose to depict a certain character, particular events and his or her thoughts. Explore 'how' you imitated the character's language and used structural features of diary entries. Reflect furthermore on any changes you made after submitting a draft and how well you think you did on this portfolio assignment.
After reading the fourth chapter, 'Summer', revisit your discussion questions document. Each group member should create another discussion question. Discuss all of the questions together as a group. Take turns recording your bullet-pointed answers in the document. Report back to the entire class and share some of the key questions and points that came out of these final discussions. Before submitting your group's document, read through secondary websites, such as SparkNotes or LitCharts, and add any points that you think need adding. In your portfolio, write about why you asked the questions that you asked and how your group discussed everyone's question. Reflect and evaluate on the processes.
After you have read the entire novel, create a classroom document that lists the global issues that run through the novel. Select an issue that you want to explore for your individual oral. Find a 30-35 line passage that relates to your global issue. Highlight 3 different features in the text. In a 5-minute presentation to a classmate, talk about how these features are used by the author (Toni Morisson) to present the issue both in the passage and the rest of the novel.
Example passage from The Bluest Eye