The Diaspora (Book) Wars: Black Girls & Colourism: The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips and The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
This week, two books that deal with colourism and the struggles of young black girls go head to head.
Posted in Issue #3, The Diaspora Book Wars on February 3, 2018 0 Comments
The Five Minute Book Review: Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging by Afua Hirsch Previous CELEBRATION! Next

First Line of Attack

The first lines of the novel

“Mamma washed the last dish she ever intended to wash. I alone witnessed this event, in silence. It was on a Friday- a school day- but instead of sitting in a classroom, I was standing in unfamiliar surroundings, the home of my mother’s employers, stunned by the wealth around me.”

Arena of War

The setting and the situation of the story

Setting: Pakersfield, Georgia in 1958

Personnel on the Battlefield

The main characters

  • Tangy Mae: The 6th out of 10 children who happens to be darkest of them all
  • Rozelle: Tangy Mae’s light skinned mother who is a prostitute and takes advantage of her children
  • Tarabelle and Mushy: Tangy Mae’s sister’s who are persuaded into prostitution by their mother
  • Martha Jean: Her light-skinned deaf-mute sister
  • Miss Pearl: The neighborhood abortionist

Battle Strategy

The plot and key sub-plots

We meet thirteen-year-old Tangy Mae Quinn and  as her mother Rozelle , is about to give birth to her 10th child.  Tangy is the sixth of ten fatherless siblings, and the darkest. Because of this she is her mother’s least favourite child. Her mother abuses her children and forces to children to shoplift and sell their bodies for sex.

First Line of Attack

The first lines of the novel

“There can’t be anyone I’m sure, who doesn’t know what it feels like to be disliked, even rejected, momentarily or for sustained periods of time. Perhaps the feeling is merely indifference, mild annoyance, but it may also be hurt. It may even be that some of us know what it is to be actually hated –hated for things we have no control over and cannot change.”

Arena of War

The setting and the situation of the story

Setting: Lorain, Ohio in 1941

Personnel on the Battlefield

The main characters

  • Pecola Breedlove: 11 year old who thinks she is ugly because she is black
  • Claudia MacTeer: strong-minded 9 year-old who rebels against the adults in her life and their definition of beauty
  • Cholly Breedlove: Pecola’s violent father who abuses Pecola
  • Pauline Breedlove: Pecola’s mother who believes that she is ugly because she is black and passes this on to her daughter. Invests love and affection into the white family she works for rather than her own family
  • China, Poland, Miss Marie: The town prostitutes who becomes friends with Pecola as they live in the apartment above her families

Battle Strategy

The plot and key sub-plots

Claudia MacTeer and her family live with their tenants one of whom is Pecola Breedlove whose alcoholic father burnt down their house. Pecola has a difficult childhood and is raped by her father and falls pregnant. She is obsessed with Shirley Temple who she believes is beautiful unlike herself which is told by people in her neighbourhood and at school.

Victory Goes To…

The Bluest Eye

Toni Morrison takes victory this week with her powerfully emotional tale of a young black girl’s struggle and her scathing analysis of Eurocentric beauty standards. Both novels are black coming-of-age novels set in the poor rural racist south and explore the dangerous consequences of colourism. Both Pecola and Tangy Mae suffer abuse from their immediate families and both authors explore the issues of violence, alcohol and parenting. These novels unpack the way society’s view of what makes someone beautiful can affect someone’s perception of themselves.    

This week’s winner, The Bluest Eye, is available on Amazon: UK | US.

Our worthy competitor, The Darkest Child, is also available on Amazon: UK | US.


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