Marguerite Dumas: Blue Eyes, Black Hair


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Marguerite Duras: BLUE EYES, BLACK HAIR

She puts the black silk back over her face. He can remember nothing about either her face or her eyes. She cries in little fits and starts.

She says, “It’s nothing, just emotion.”

At first he’s not sure about the word, and asks, “Emotion?” Then he says it just to have it on his own lips, not as a question, without any object: “Emotion.”

The title Blue Eyes, Black Hair reveals the central focus of the novel. Page by page the storyline seems to circle back to the fixation He, She and Him have over the aesthetic distinction of blue eyes and black hair. The main characters of the book are not named; rather they are referred to as He, She and Him. By doing so, Duras intensifies the reader’s interpretations of the character’s behavior, actions and dialogue. The sole use of pronouns closes the gap between the distanced 3rd person vantage point and the intimate 1st person encounter.

The characters show an insurmountable amount of vulnerability, grief and raw vivacity through a never-ending reservoir of tears. By being constantly reminded of their display of emotional distress, it disarms the characters and opens the reader’s ability to sympathize or empathize with great ease. Duras washes you clean and then paints the scenes with an evocative degree of emotion that makes both the characters and reader want to shy away from the intensity of their misery. In fact, She uses Her black scarf as a way of shrouding both Her eyes and explicit assessments of both men and their affect upon her internal landscape. She also curls up in the darkest corner of the room to shield herself from further inquiries of the deeper sort. Because of this, She is endlessly brought to the lone light central to the room. While the rays of light illuminate her figure they are also gesturing to unearth her uninhibited judgments and opinions.

As the characters uncover their most raw truths, throwing shame to the wind, those feelings of anguish and despair become personally accessible to the reader themselves. The reader gains knowledge in recognizing the breadth and depth of their personal angst and anguish in a more complete light. As this book develops, if given permission, the reader develops right along with it.

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