Toni Morrison, the author of The Bluest Eye, centers her novel around two things: beauty and wealth in their relation to race and a brutal rape of a young girl by her father. Morrison explores and exposes these themes in relation to the underlying factors of black society: racism and sexism. Every character has a problem to deal with and it involves racism and/or sexism. Whether the characters are the victim or the aggressor, they can do nothing about their problem or condition, especially when concerning gender and race. Morrison's characters are clearly at the mercy of preconceived notions maintained by society. Because of these preconceived notions, the racism found in The Bluest Eye is not whites against blacks. Morrison writes about
Throughout all of history there has been an ideal beauty that most have tried to obtain. But what if that beauty was impossible to grasp because something was holding one back. There was nothing one could do to be ‘beautiful’. Growing up and being convinced that one was ugly, useless, and dirty. For Pecola Breedlove, this state of longing was reality. Blue eyes, blonde hair, and pale white skin was the definition of beauty. Pecola was a black girl with the dream to be beautiful. Toni Morrison takes the reader into the life of a young girl through Morrison’s exceptional novel, The Bluest Eye. The novel displays the battles that Pecola struggles with each and every day. Morrison takes the reader through the themes of whiteness and beauty,
A standard of beauty is established by the society in which a person lives and then supported by its members in the community. In the novel The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, we are given an extensive understanding of how whiteness is the standard of beauty through messages throughout the novel that whiteness is superior. Morrison emphasizes how this ideality distorts the minds and lives of African-American women and children. He emphasizes that in order for African-American women to survive in a white racist society, they must love their own race. The theme of race and that white skin is more beautiful is portrayed through the lives and stories told by the characters in the novel, especially the three girls Claudia, Pecola and Frieda. Through the struggles these characters have endured, Morrison shows us the destructive effect of this internalized idea of white beauty on the individual and on society.
The desire to feel beautiful has never been more in demand, yet so impossible to achieve. In the book “The Bluest Eye”, the author, Toni Morrison, tells the story of two black families that live during the mid-1900’s. Even though slavery is a thing of the past, discrimination and racism are still a big issue at this time. Through the whole book, characters struggle to feel beautiful and battle the curse of being ugly because of their skin color. Throughout the book Pecola feels ugly and does not like who she is because of her back skin. She believes the only thing that can ever make her beautiful is if she got blue eyes. Frieda, Pecola, Claudia, and other black characters have been taught that the key to being beautiful is by having white skin. So by being black, this makes them automatically ugly. In the final chapter of the book, the need to feel beautiful drives Pecola so crazy that she imagines that she has blue eyes. She thinks that people don’t want to look at her because they are jealous of her beauty, but the truth is they don’t look at her because she is pregnant. From the time these black girls are little, the belief that beauty comes from the color of their skin has been hammered into their mind. Mrs. Breedlove and Geraldine are also affected by the standards of beauty and the impossible goal to look and be accepted by white people. Throughout “The Bluest Eye” Toni Morrison uses the motif of beauty to portray its negative effect on characters.
However, she becomes the scapegoat or the sacrificial lamb for all the characters, as they too suffer from insanity. In attempting to retain his masculinity, Cholly Breedlove stains his own blood, his own daughter. He was abandoned by his father, degraded by two white men when he had his first sexual encounter, and got many kicks in life. But when alcohol blots out his senses, it also blots out his humanity switch. Pecola grappled by her father was now in ruins. This was a result from the damages of racism and self-hatred. Leaving Pecola bewildered and silenced, depicting the very idea of how women have less rights and are often oppressed. “Dangerously free. Free to feel whatever he felt- fear, guilt, shame, love, grief, pity. Free to be tender or violent, to whistle or weep. Free to sleep in doorways or between the white sheets of a singing woman.” (Morrison, 159). Cholly crossed all boundaries and does whatever he wishes to do. He can sleep with prostitutes, sleep in doorways, quit jobs, spend time in jail, kill three white men, and knock a women in the head. He feels free of all responsibilities and feels freedom for the first time. Cholly’s self-hatred literally enters Pecola as she bears his child, the symbol of his ugliness and hatred. He looks at his daughter with loathe and tenderness but doesn't pick her up and covers her with a blanket. This season shows that Pecola was the dumping ground for the black community’s fears and feelings of unworthiness. She was fully broken and gave up hope in ever achieving the perfect family life. If the mother did not know how to love herself, or the father did not know how to love himself, then it would be impossible for them to teach Pecola how to love herself. They were doing the best they could with what they had been taught as children. Spring
Pauline Breedlove’s racial self-loathing began when she was a young girl. Pauline first perceives herself as ugly when she is left with a limp foot after impaling it on a nail. This limp foot sets the basis for her feelings of “separateness and unworthiness” as a child (Morrison 111). Pauline’s family then moves from Alabama to Kentucky to look for employment, therefore exposing her to even more isolation. Because Pauline is often alone, she develops a love for organizing and cleaning her house. Arranging items gave Pauline a sense of control and “when by some accident somebody scattered her rows” Pauline was delighted and “never angry” because it “gave her a chance to rearrange them again” (111). As she grew older, Pauline fantasized about men and fell in love with Cholly Breedlove. Pauline’s sense of worth and beauty soon became defined by Cholly’s perception of her, as she finally felt as if “her bad foot was an asset” (116). Pauline’s obsession with beauty and order stays with her throughout her adulthood. She constantly escapes from her dysfunctional life and enters a fantasy when watching movies starring beautiful white actresses. However, Pauline faces a reality check when her tooth falls out after biting into a piece of candy at the movies. This incident causes Pauline to accept her ugliness, which intensifies her self-loathing.
Pecola's life away from her family is no better. She is often picked on and called ugly by those around her. Claudia and Frieda realize that the entire neighborhood agrees with Pecola that white features are beautiful.
After watching the movies, Polly begins to consume whiteness, which reinforces the existence of internalized racism among African Americans. She measures absolute beauty of what she has seen on the silver screen. “She learned all there was to love and all there was to hate” (122). She believes that what she sees is the way things should be, which an example of internalized racism is. Polly admired how the white men took care of the white women, how white people dressed, and how their houses looked on the movie screen. Therefore, when she began to work for the Fishers, she revealed how much she loved whiteness as compared to blackness. In addition, she consumes whiteness as she works for the Fishers. Polly is able to have order, love, family, and happiness in the Fisher home, which is an example of internalized racism and the Eurocentricism idea. Society dictates how a typical home should be, which is why Polly thought highly of how she took care of the Fisher household, rather than her own. “More and more she neglected her house, her children, and her man—they were afterthoughts,” and “the dark edges that made the daily life with the Fishers lighter, more delicate, more lovely” (127). On another occasion, Polly loses a tooth, while at the movies. Losing her tooth was significant in that she felt as though she has lost her whiteness. “Everything went then” (123). The loss of whiteness, her tooth, meant a loss of beauty and a loss of power. The white family giving Pauline a nickname is a symbol of her being white. When she goes to the store on behalf of the Fishers, the respect that she receives portrays her power and respect, because she represents the whiteness. Unlike, when she goes to the store for her family, they intimidate her. She has more respect and love for the white family than her family. She accepted only the best for them, but she always accepted lesser quality for her own family.
In a time where being black is equated with being ugly, Pecola Breedlove struggles to find beauty in herself and the world around her due to her race. With the beauty standards reinforced to her since birth through the media and the society she lives in, she sees no option but to conform to them. In “The Bluest Eye”, Toni Morrison uses the characterization of the black women in her novel to show how society has caused the black community to internalize white beauty standards.
Toni Morrison, the author of The Bluest Eye writes the book while she was teaching at Howard University. She decided to center the book around an eleven year old African American who is coming of age and accepting one’s beauty. Pecola’s family does not show her the love and affection that an eleven year old needs in a community full of people who are racist. In the world that Pecola grows up in she believes that she is ugly because she is not classified as a beautiful white girl with blue eyes. The racism that is shown in the book can affect the way she sees herself because the more Pecola hears what people are saying about her the more she is going to believe them. Throughout Pecola’s experiences she has taken her bad experience making them
In The bluest Eye by Toni Morrison the main character is a young girl named Pecola Breedlove, growing up in Lorain, Ohio, after the great depression. Nine year old Claudia MacTeer and her ten year old sister Frieda are also main characters. The MacTeers take in Pecola, and the young girls build a relationship with one another. Pecola had a difficult life at home with her own family, and even at school she is teased. She is a loner not by choice, but because children think she is ugly because of the color of her skin,
Is someone who strives to become something that they are not, motivated simply by acceptance? For example, a person who changes his or her hairstyle or way of dress may desire to be seen as cool. Also, others may even join a sport simply to be popular and feel more accepted. In our lives, we are always changing and adjusting in order to show progress or to be seen as better. The changing of one’s race is another action taken by individuals who seek acceptance in high society. In The Bluest Eye, the author Toni Morrison tells of several intertwining stories of many black individuals. Most of these individuals, when addressed by other characters, struggle with negative references of name-calling and descriptions. Negative remarks aside, some black individuals in the novel are raised in a light that mirrors the opposing race’s life rather than their own. Throughout the novel, the author and society constantly place black individuals on a lower pedestal so much that they strive to be white or to have white qualities.
The Bluest Eye, published in 1970, is a novel born from the author’s experience with a little black girl who wanted blue eyes, an effect of “racial self-loathing” (Morrison 210). The novel explores a similar, but much more extreme story: the story of Pecola Breedlove. Pecola is a little black girl living not only in a world that divides itself by race and is prejudiced against black people, but also amidst a family that holds conflict and divisions within itself. Morrison’s novels are known for their themes of racial ideology, beauty standards, and identity (Lister), and The Bluest Eye is no different. Through the subject of its story and the author’s use of language, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye explores the dangers of racially-based beauty
There is also the lack of healthy interpersonal relationship between the parents and child. Cholly Breedlove twice rapes his biological daughter in a fit of drunkenness and impregnates her. Pecola does not receive the parental love and care which she was supposed to get from her parents. Cholly is an absent and uncaring father. Whereas, Paulin does not believe her daughter when she gets to know that Cholly, her husband, has raped their daughter Pecola. She beats Pecola instead and makes her unconscious. Cholly’s blackness infuriates him and compels him to believe that he is ugly and so he does not deserve a better life. He is a sadist character who only loves to inflict pain on others.
The story begins with the description of Pecola's family :"they live in a storefront because they were poor and black and they stayed there because they believed they were ugly" (Morrison 38). Unfortunately, Pecola's feelings of ugliness are reinforced by her own parents; her father Cholly’s ugliness came from his " despair, dissipation, and violence directed toward pretty things and weak people" (Morrison 38). Pecola states the following regarding her Mother Pauline: "But I knowed she was ugly. Head full of pretty hair, but Lord she was ugly" (Morrison 126). Pecola was doomed to a life of self doubt and