Loyola University Maryland

First-Year Programs

Common Text

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The Bluest Eye Book Cover

Essay Contest for The Bluest Eye

Sponsored by Dr. Ilona McGuiness, Dean of First Year Students & Academic Services

Dear Members of the Class of 2018,

Want to start your University career by making a strong impression on your professors, advisors, and classmates?
Want to win $350 by sharing your insights on Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye?
Enter the Common Text Essay Contest, and you might do both!

Think back to a time in your life when you were a member of a group that is represented by the “We”—or when you were the “she”— that is represented in this passage near the end of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye:

 We were so beautiful when we stood astride her ugliness. Her simplicity decorated us, her guilt sanctified us, her pain made us glow with health, her awkwardness made us think we had a sense of humor. Her inarticulateness made us believe we were eloquent. Her poverty kept us generous. Even her waking dreams we used—to silence our own nightmares. And she let us, and thereby deserved our contempt. We honed our egos on her, padded our characters with her frailty, and yawned in the fantasy of our strength. (p.205)

Tell that story and explain what you learned from your experience about why people treat others badly and how both sides are damaged by such behavior.
Possible groups include religious faiths, cultural groups, bullied students, socioeconomic classes, nationalities, clubs, cliques, honor societies, sports teams…the list is endless.
In preparing your essay, do not consult outside sources of any kind to help you understand Morrison’s book or to write the essay itself. It is your unique discussion of the book and what it means to you that matters, not what someone else says. If a reference to other sources is detected, your essay will be automatically disqualified.
Choose a thesis that you can develop in approximately 5 double-spaced, typed pages.
Please submit your essay electronically to Dr. Ilona McGuiness to imcguiness@loyola.edu no later than midnight, Aug. 17.
Three prizes of $350 will be awarded.
Winners will be announced at the Common Text Convocation on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014, at 9:15 a.m. Winners and honorable mention students will be honored at a luncheon immediately following the small group Common Text discussions on Aug. 29.
Your core advisors and I are looking forward to reading your essays.

Dean McGuiness