Morrison's Bluest Eye Essay: The American Way

1698 Words 7 Pages
The Bluest Eye: The American Way

Ownership, class structures, and consumerism go hand in hand. Morrison illustrates this throughout the novel and in the characters' identities. Many of the characters identify themselves based on material possessions: the simple ownership of a car, the use of consumer products, and property ownership. Although African Americans may take these things for granted now, in the early 1900's this would be considered a major accomplishment.

There is an apparent contradiction of class status among the characters illustrating how beauty determines social stratification. Morrison places each person in the class hierarchy based on how close they are to the white standard of beauty. The Fishers,
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Although Rosemary is viewed as white, she is still part of the working class. Yet Rosemary looks down on Claudia and Pecola because her father owns a store as well as a car. Although Rosemary is their next door neighbor, material ownership as well as white features sets her apart from them. Rosemary's superiority complex is fostered by a society which views ownership and race as symbols of success.

Morrison's highest class level for African Americans begins with the middle class, exemplified by Maureen Peele. Maureen, the closest character in the book to the white model of beauty, is expected to be above the other characters' status. Claudia describes Maureen as:

A high yellow dream child with long brown hair

braided into two lynch ropes that hung down her

back. She was rich. . .as the richest white girls,

swaddled in comfort and care. (52)

Maureen is the envy of Claudia, Pecola, and Frieda. Maureen represents the beauty and wealth of commodity culture's influences. Her appeal is based on the fact that her looks are synonymous with white beauty. She is not a threat to whites because she mirrors their own image, however the characters in the novel resent her for not carrying the stigma of African American features.

Geraldine, who does not posess any white features, will do anything to get rid of the stigma of being African American. Geraldine would like to
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