Morrison's Bluest Eye Essay: Self-Definition

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In Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, published in 1970, the struggle begins in childhood. Two young black girls -- Claudia and Pecola -- illuminate the combined power of externally imposed gender and racial definitions where the black female must not only deal with the black male's female but must contend with the white male's and the white female's black female, a double gender and racial bind. All the male definitions that applied to the white male's female apply, in intensified form, to the black male's, white male's and white female's black female. In addition, where the white male and female are represented as beautiful, the black female is the inverse -- ugly. Self-definition is crucial, not only to being, but to creating. As…show more content…
But what happens when this complex issue of gender is further complicated by the superimposition of race, when a black female struggles with transforming the negative space of the female unconscious and the negative space of the black unconscious into a cohesive positive form that is the black female's self? In Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, published in 1970, the struggle begins in childhood. Two young black girls -- Claudia and Pecola -- illuminate the combined power of externally imposed gender and racial definitions where the black female must not only deal with the black male's female but must contend with the white male's and the white female's black female, a double gender and racial bind. All the male definitions that applied to the white male's female apply, in intensified form, to the black male's, white male's and white female's black female. In addition, where the white male and female are represented as beautiful, the black female is the inverse -- ugly. The black community that internalizes white definitions of self is not unlike the community of women who internalize patriarchal society's definitions of female self; in both cases the results are devastating and self-defeating. Ten-year old Claudia, in a savage renunciation of false racial and gender definitions internalized by the black

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