Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye: Racial and Social-Cultural Problems Dealing with the Lost Identity of Young African American WomenGet Your
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Mr. Henry moves into Claudia and Frieda’s house. One day, the girls come home and when they walk in Mr. Henry greets them. He flatters them by telling them they look just like Greta Garbo and Ginger Rogers, two white American female actresses. These two actresses represented American society’s ideal beauty, with their blonde hair and blue eyes. They, and other actresses like them, were so idealized by the media that it forced young American girls, both white and black, to question their own beauty if it differed from the standard of blond hair and blue eyes.
After seeing the cup with Shirley Temple on it, Claudia explains her ill feelings for her. Shirley Temple was the epitome of what all of America adored in little girls: her bouncy blonde curls and big blue eyes. This sickened Claudia, as she was so different from Shirley Temple and all of the other little girls who looked like Shirley. Culture 3: Claudia tells the story about the doll she received for Christmas one year. This doll was a beautiful doll that had blonde hair, blue eyes, and pink skin.
Instead of appreciating the doll like most other children would have done, Claudia dismembered and destroyed the doll. She was sick of having American ideals of beauty placed on her, which said that being white with blonde hair and blue eyes was what was deemed as beautiful. Claudia receives a white baby doll for Christmas one year. Instead of adoring and cradling the new gift, as most other children would have done, Claudia, in a fit of rage, dismembered and destroyed the doll. She hated the doll’s blue eyes and blonde hair staring back at her, reminding her of how different she looked from the doll.
She knew that to destroy the doll was wrong, but she could not help it. The doll, so revered for its white established ideals of what beautiful was, made Claudia hate herself for being the complete opposite of those ideals. The Breedloves are described. They think they are poor and ugly, and it says that much of the reason they think this is because of the white American media. The media, as part of our culture, sets the standards for what defines beauty, and anything straying from these standards is viewed as ugly.
Pecola is constantly faced with the standards set on her society by American culture. She cannot even enjoy a piece of candy without feeling that she is different and lacking in some way in terms of beauty. When she goes to eat her Mary Jane candy, she is mesmerized by the little girl of Mary Jane on the cover, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl. These cultural pressures of what defines beauty make Pecola aware of just how much she strays from that defined beauty. This eventually leads to her desire for blue eyes, which in turn leads her into madness.
Culture 7: When Pecola, Maureen, Claudia and Frieda are walking home from the ice cream shop, they pass a theater with a picture of Betty Grable on it. Young girls are bombarded with American culture’s ideals of beauty, such as pictures of famous actresses. Betty Grable in particular, with her blonde hair and blue eyes, makes Pecola and Maureen want to look like her. However, despite all of their hopes and wishes, they will never be able to look like that, and they are left as the victims of a culture that standardizes and limits young children.
During her younger years, Pauline Breedlove spent a lot of time at the movie theater. It was here where she learned American standards of true beauty. Constantly faced with actresses like Jean Harlow, the ultimate Hollywood blonde bombshell, Pauline was forced to examine her own beauty in terms of Harlow’s. She realized that she did not look anything like Harlow, and based on this, came to the conclusion that she must be ugly. However, her feelings of ugliness were purely based on cultural standards set on her through the medium of Hollywood. Claudia feels the need for Pecola’s baby to be alive and healthy.
She wants the baby to survive because she wants to counteract the cultural emphasis placed on white girls with blonde hair and blue eyes, exemplified by the types of white baby dolls most children adore (dolls that look like Shirley Temple). If Pecola’s baby lives, maybe people can learn to love a black baby and see black as beautiful too. At least this is what Claudia is hoping for. Mrs. Breedlove works for a wealthy white family, The Fishers, down by Lake Shore Park, a place where black people are not allowed. She idolizes this family and their white ways.
She even adores their little blonde-haired, blue-eyed daughter. She treats the little girl better than she treats her own daughter, Pecola. All of this can be attributed to the fact that Mrs. Breedlove does not like herself nor the social position she has been placed into due to her blackness. She dislikes herself so much that she tries to adopt white ways. She even goes so far as to sort of pretend that their beautiful little daughter is her own daughter. Self-Hatred 7: To occupy some of her time when she was a young woman, Pauline Breedlove frequently would go to the movies.
She began to accept the Hollywood idealized representations of absolute beauty, such as Jean Harlow, Greta Garbo, and Ginger Rogers. She accepted these representations of beauty so much so that she began to judge beauty based on these standards. And because she saw herself as so far away from that scale of beauty, she began to hate herself. ecola eventually moves back in with her family. Life there is not pleasant. Her father is an alcoholic, her mother is seems not to care for her, and the two of them often fight. Pecola’s older brother, Samuel, often runs away from home.
Pecola also runs away but into her own fantasies: she dreams of having the bluest eyes in the world. 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. Pecola’s parents have both had difficult lives. Pauline always felt like an outsider in her family and constantly suffers through feelings of loneliness and ugliness. She wants to love her daughter but finds Pecola unattractive.
Pauline works for a wealthy white family and finds her comfort in their house. Cholly was abandoned by his parents and brought up by his aunt. He was often humiliated by white people and built up a great rage toward whites and women. When he met and married Pauline, things were good for a time, but he soon felt trapped and unhappy. The marriage is dull, except for those moments when they are fighting. One day, as he returns home and finds Pecola washing dishes, Cholly’s life of desire wells up and he rapes his daughter. Pauline blames Pecola for the rape, seeing it as Pecola’s fault.
Claudia MacTeer: Narrator of the story, she is nine years old and lives in a green and white run-down, but functional house. Claudia despises the American ideals of beauty, which say that one must have blonde hair, blue eyes, and pink skin to be beautiful. She resents and even reacts violently to these ideals when she destroys the pretty white dolls given to her at Christmas. Pecola moves in with Claudia’s family, and she becomes best friends with Claudia and her sister, Frieda. Pecola Breedlove: Eleven year-old little black girl, who is plain and homely.
By orders of the county, the MacTeers take Pecola into their home to temporarily take care of her until the county finds another home for her. It is here that she meets and becomes best friends with Claudia and Frieda. She is not happy with herself and longs for blue eyes, as they are symbolic of American white beauty. Pecola has a very difficult life growing up, as people torment her for being black and ugly. She is also raped by her father, and eventually becomes pregnant with his baby. However, the baby dies. Her mother treats her coldly, as she believes Pecola is ugly and is ashamed of her.
Pauline Breedlove: Pecola’s mother. She is beaten by her abusive and alcoholic husband, Cholly. When Cholly burns down their house, Pauline is forced to move in with the Fishers, the well-to-do white family for whom she works. She adapts to their white ways and becomes the ideal servant. However, she treats Pecola in a cold and cruel manner, as Pauline is ashamed of her daughter’s ugliness. Pauline herself, as a black woman, also believes that she is ugly. She tries to combat this by living in a world of fantasy, mesmerized by white Hollywood glamour and beauty.
A new little girl, named Maureen Peal, comes to Claudia and Frieda’s school. Maureen is revered for her looks, which people deem beautiful. She has lighter skin and eyes than most of the other children, and everyone adores her because of this. She is looked upon as beautiful because her characteristics are somewhat more “white” than other black people’s. This causes many to be jealous of her. However, Claudia and Frieda are not jealous. They see through the standards placed on beauty, and if Maureen is what is beautiful, this means that they are not beautiful (according to society).
Claudia prays that Pecola’s baby will survive. She needs the baby to live to counteract society’s standards set on beauty, which say that blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girls are all that is pretty. Claudia hopes that with this new black baby people will change and see blackness as something that can be admired and something that is beautiful. “Adults, older girls, shops, magazines, newspapers, window sign – all the world had agreed that a blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl child treasured. ‘Here,’ they said, ‘this is beautiful, and if you are on this day “worthy” you may have it. ‘” pp. 0-21 “Long hours she sat looking in the mirror, trying to discover the secret of the ugliness, the ugliness that made her ignored or despised at school, by teachers and classmates alike. ” pg. 45 “Here was an ugly little girl asking for beauty. A surge of love and understanding swept through him, but was quickly replaced by anger. Anger that he was powerless to help her. Of all the wishes people had brought him – money, love, revenge – this seemed to him the most poignant and the one most deserving of fulfillment. A little black girl who wanted to rise up out of the pit of her blackness and see the world with blue eyes. pg. 174 “I thought about the baby that everyone wanted dead, and saw it very clearly. It was in a dark, wet place, its head covered with O’s of wool, the black face holding, like nickels, two clean black eyes, the flared nose, kissing-thick lips, and the living, breathing silk of black skin. No synthetic yellow bangs suspended over marble-blue eyes, no pinched nose and bowline mouth. More strongly than my fondness for Pecola, I felt a need for someone to want the black baby to live – just to counteract the universal love of white baby dolls, Shirley Temples, and Maureen Peals. ” pg. 190
Tormented and even tortured by almost everyone with whom she comes into contact, Pecola never fights back. If she had had the inner strength of Claudia and Frieda, she would have been able to counter the meanness of others toward her by assuming a meanness of her own. She does not. She is always the victim, always the object of others’ wrath. Pauline abuses Pecola when she accidentally spills the cobbler all over the floor of the Fishers’ kitchen, Junior tricks her into his house for the sole purpose of tormenting her, Geraldine hurts Pecola’s feelings when she throws Pecola out of her house and calls her “black,” as if to insult her, and Mr.
Yacobowski degrades her by refusing to touch her hand to take her money. Cholly abuses Pecola in the most dramatically obscene way possible? and never once does Pecola fight back. She might have yelled back at the boys who tormented her after school the way Frieda did; she might have thrown her money at Mr. Yacobowski when he refused to touch her hand; Had Pecola taken the ugliness that society defined for her and turned it outward, she would not have become society’s victim. All little black girls try to grow up into healthy women with positive self-images? espite the fact that white society seems to value and love only little girls with blue eyes, yellow hair, and pink skin. Today, most black girls survive the onslaught of white media messages, but even today, some fail. Pecola, a little black girl in the 1940s, does not survive. She is the “broken-winged bird that cannot fly. ” Toni Morrison’s novel “The Bluest Eye”, is a very important novel in literature, because of the many boundaries that were crosses and the painful, serious topics that were brought into light, including racism, gender issues, Black female Subjectivity, and child abuse of many forms.
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This set of annotated bibliographies are scholarly works of literature that centre around the hot topic of racism in the novel, “The Bluest Eye”, and the low self-esteem faced by young African American women, due to white culture. My research was guided by these ideas of racism and loss of self, suffered in the novel, by the main character Pecola Breedlove. This text generates many racial and social-cultural problems, dealing with the lost identity of a young African American women, due to her obsession with the white way of life, and her wish to have blue eyes, leading to her complete transgression into insanity.
Author: Brandon Johnson
Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye: Racial and Social-Cultural Problems Dealing with the Lost Identity of Young African American Women
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Essay about Racism and Sexism in the Bluest Eye
1798 Words8 Pages
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…show more content…
Despite knowing that they are "nicer, brighter," they cannot ignore "the honey voices of parents and aunts and the obedience in the eyes of [their] peers, the slippery light in the eyes of [their] teachers" when Maureen is around or the topic of conversation (74). The way Maureen dresses and behaves in front of adults is not the only way she affects Claudia and Frieda. With racist comments such as, "What do I care about her old black daddy...[and] you ugly! Black and ugly black e mos. I am cute," she infuriates the girls, for in their eyes Maureen is black too. Racist attitudes like Maureen's affect the poorer, darker blacks and can eventually lead them to think racist thoughts of their own.
Pauline Breedlove, Pecola's mother, experiences racism within the black community when she moves to Lorain, Ohio. Being a dark-skinned black woman from the south, she does not understand why "northern colored folk was different... [and why they were] no better than whites for meanness" (117). She recognizes the hierarchy, or the "difference between colored people and niggers" within the black community, especially from the light-skinned women she encounters (87). One of these light-skinned black women is Geraldine, Junior's mother, who believes "colored people were neat and quiet; niggers were dirty and loud" (87). She even tells her son