Admiration in "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison

Essay add: 30-09-2015, 19:24   /   Views: 212
Admiration in "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison’s novel, The Bluest Eye, illustrates the negative effects of white cultural domination on the African American society post-World War I. The Bluest Eye portrays the life of Pecola Breedlove, a poor black girl with an extremely difficult life. Pecola is constantly picked on by her peers, lives in an abusive home, and is constantly being reminded of her “ugliness.” Pecola lives a life of disappointments and unfulfilled dreams. She eventually loses her sanity and becomes the perfect example, to the reader, of what the entire African American society was put through during her time period. Toni Morrison is able to better exemplify the consequences of white cultural domination through three of her characters, Cholly, Pauline, and Pecola.

One day in his teenage years Cholly was having sex with a girl named Darlene in the forest when suddenly two white men appeared and commanded that they continue while they watched. While he was initially angry with Darlene for this innocent because she was the one “who bore witness to his failure and embarrassment” (151) his “in time discover his hatred of the white man”(151). It was at this moment that Cholly’s own self destruction began. It was the incident in forest that destroyed his self-worth because it was in fact when he was “rapped” by white power. Before the white men appeared at the scene he was in complete control of what was going on, everything was under his own power, but when the men appeared he no longer had control, in fact all he had was fear, the domination of that moment was usurped by the white men. At this moment when Cholly realized that there was nothing in the world to have power, until Pecola was born. Throughout Pecola’s life Cholly never paid any attention to her. He dismissed his own daughter, just as the rest of society did, as an ugly black without feelings or even a personality. That is until he realized that Pecola was the only thing that he could actually have control over. He knew that despite everything he did Pecola still loved him. He used this power and dominance in a very negative way, he rapes his daughter, which eventually gets her pregnant. His whole life Cholly knew that he would never be able to have the power that the white people did, but he was determined to find something, somewhere that he could completely control. His search unfortunately ended with his daughter, Pecola.

All her life Pauline strived to be white and have the things that white people had. She dreamed of being like the people in her movies and started working just so she could obtain the material possessions that she assumed would help her fit in. She worked for a white family, the Fischers, trying to get as close as possible to the things they had, because she knew she could never have them. She wanted everything they had from their simple material possessions to their lives and personalities. Her love and desire for this family only adds to the problems at her own home and the problems that add to her daughters complicated life. At one instance Pecola is waiting for Pauline to get off work, she accidentally knocks a blueberry cobble of the counter making a big mess. The little Fischer girl witnessed this accident and began to cry. Pauline made no hesitation to comfort the white girl, but she yelled at Pecola “spitting the words out like rotten pieces of apples” (109). Pauline’s obvious worship of this white family is due to her own self-hatred. Because of this hatred she is unable to love her own daughter, like she can the Fischer girl, because Pecola represents everything that Pauline wishes that she was not. Her whole life Pauline never fit in, and the image of the perfect white family only helps to deteriorate her capability to love herself, let alone her family and Pecola.

Pecola is Morrison’s primary example of the negative effects of the white cultural domination of the time. Every night young Pecola dreams and prays that her eyes will turn blue. She feels that if her life turns blue her life will become perfect. If Pecola’s eyes turn blue she feels that everything will be perfect in her life from her family to her friends. Pecola worships all white people, especially little girls like her classmate, Maureen Peel, and the child star, Shirley Temple. While her friends despise these role models because society sees them as the “ideal” girl and they know they can never be that person, Pecola loves and idealizes them for the same reasons. Because Pecola wants what she can’t have (blue eyes) so badly she eventually goes loses her sanity. She makes up an imaginary friend who she admires her new blue eyes with (which she never really has). While the self-destruction of this young girl might seem like the worst possible effect cultural domination, Morrison actually brings it a step farther. Pecola’s baby does not live, and the marigolds planted by the MacTeer girls never grow. Both are the result of the same devastating thing. The “soil” (or Pecola) never loved itself enough to bring life to another being. The images of perfection and happiness that so sharply contradicted Pecola’s own life and which she ultimately longed for were in the end the sole reasons that led to Pecola’s self-loathing and destruction.

The use of the characters, Cholly, Pauline and Pecola, in The Bluest Eye, were what enabled Morrison to so effectively display the harmful effects of white cultural domination in the post World War I era. The images of perfection and beauty in society were what eventually led to the misfortunate fate of Pecola and her family. Unable to ever escape their own self-hatred they themselves were never able to learn to love or be loved by anyone else. The African American’s admiration of white culture and popular voice is what in the end destroyed any hope for their own potential happiness.

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