Essay on Self-Hate in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye

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At a time when blue-eyed, pale skin Shirley Temple is idolized by white and black alike, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove desperately seeks out beauty for herself. In order to attain beauty in her culture, Pecola must do the impossible: find white beauty. Toni Morrison shows the disastrous effects that colorism and racism can have on a whole culture and how African-
Americans will tear each other apart in order to fit into the graces of white society. The desire to be considered beautiful in the white world is so compelling, that the characters in The Bluest Eye loathe their own skin color and feel shame for their culture. These feelings of self-loathing and contempt pass on from the adults to their children, creating a
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The first phase is described as an extended

period of “imitation of the prevailing modes of the dominant tradition, and internalization of its standards of art and its views on social roles” (Hamilton, 114). White Western society plays the dominant role here, and Pecola exhibits longing to imitate white society. Her desperation to have white beauty is so strong that she eats Mary Jane candies, fantasizing that the candies will make her white: “Smiling white face. Blond hair in gentle disarray, blue eyes looking at her out of clean comfort…To eat the candy is somehow to eat the eyes, eat Mary Jane. Love Mary Jane.
Be Mary Jane” (Morrison, 50).

Claudia Macteer is the only character that seemingly has distaste for white beauty. She is not at all impressed with it and does not understand why she is not considered beautiful like other white children. Readers get a snapshot at the beginning of The Bluest Eye of Frieda and
Pecola discussing their fondness of Shirley Temple. The only one who seems to have a disdain for Shirley Temple is Claudia: “I couldn.t join them in their adoration because I hated Shirley.
Not because she was cute, but because she danced with Bojangles, who was my friend, my uncle, my daddy, and who ought to have been soft-shoeing it and chuckling with me” (Morrison, 19).
Claudia cannot comprehend why Bojangles, an
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