The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
The literary piece “The Bluest Eye,” written by Toni Morrison and published in circa 1970, has centered on the story of an eleven-year-old female character, Pecola Breedlove (Foerstel, 2002). The central theme that has been apparent in the story is the desire of Pecola to have white skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes. Not only does she want a set of blue eyes but she actually wants the bluest shade of blue that there is.
Her desires for this kind of physical appearance stems from her idea that those who are given these physical features are given or are receiving a certain kind of privilege from the society because of the stigma associated with it. Chloe Anthony Wofford, more popularly known as Toni Morrison, is the second of four Black children who belonged to a family who worked their way to living (“Toni Morrison: Biography,” 1993). She was born in 1931 in Ohio and proceeded to earn her degree in prestigious universities, more specifically Howard and Cornell University (“Toni Morrison: Biography,” 1993).
She has earned her positions in credible institution both in the academic ladder and in writing (“Toni Morrison: Biography,” 1993). Later on, she made an impact through the novels she made that showed the plight of the Black Americans that contained narratives of different characters’ lives (“Toni Morrison: Biography,” 1993). With the novels she made, she has earned several awards and recognition from different award-giving bodies in the field of literature that even included the Pulitzer Prize for the year 1988 (“Toni Morrison: Biography,” 1993).
Summary of the Novel In Morrison’s novel, “The Bluest Eye,” Pecola has shown to be a girl who is born to parents who lived difficult lives in their past. Pecola’s mother, Pauline, has lived in isolation, often beaten up by his husband who she often provokes to do such, and only feels worth at work where she is made to clean the house of a White woman. On the other hand, Pecola’s father, Cholly, is a drunkard whose current state of misery is blamed to his parents abandoning him when he was still a child.
He is made to live with his great aunt and an experience he could not forget is the incident where he felt humiliated when to White men caught him cohabiting and sexually exploited him. Soon, he found where his father is but the latter refused to take him in his life and later on met Pauline. They built a life together but soon, love is lost between them and they have both lost everything they had. Pecola came to their lives but she has also received failures from the personal angst of her parents.
She has adopted the desires of being White from her mother as they both think that it is their only way to draw acceptance from the society they live in. It has served as an important part of their lives to desire for the physical features of a White individual because it somehow gives them hopes of being in a better condition than what they have now. However, it gives them frustrations, too, as society continuously rejects them and presses on their being Black as the very reason why they are treated badly. As for the miseries of Cholly, he ends up raping Pecola out of both guilt and emotional feelings for his child.
Pecola becomes pregnant but the baby dies and her father decides to rape her for the second time. After this, she becomes lunatic which is the time when she thought that she had the bluest eye there is. Approach to the Novel The novel, during the time of its publication, has taken a different course from the usual ones taken by the Black women writers, who, in their literary works, meant to “destroy negative stereotypes of Black women, to present the relationship between Black men and women as ‘complimentary,’ and to affirm the Black family and community” (Dubey, 1994, p.
33). It has been exceptionally regarded as a literary piece that has laid before its audience the problems within the selves of the Black community that requires attention in order for them to proceed into accepting that they are a race equally superior and equally beautiful as the White (Dubey, 1994). While they condemn the disparities between the White and the Blacks, within them are the desires to be among the White people.
Their condemnations arise from the issues they have with regard to their acceptance in a society dominated by the White people and they see that assimilation to this particular culture is the means through which they could fight it but is actually not. As shown in the novel of Morrison, it is best to realize the psychological and social impacts of the desires to be White in order to fully acquire an identity for the Black community (Dubey, 1994).
Moreover, it should be understood that the work of Morrison requires an understanding of the history of the Black community as they tried to establish a place for their selves in the society where they live in. There is a common factor which should be targeted, which is the presence of direct and indirect discrimination against the Black community. Through time, it has become apparent that there is really a big difference with how White and Black individuals are treated. Moreover, the source for the discrimination felt by the Blacks should be understood in order to understand the novel.
This is because the source of the Black characters in the story stems from a real-life dilemma that is not explicitly stated in the text. There is a need to unravel the true cause for the behavior of the characters in order to understand the way they feel and the way they are in terms of their relationship with society. Traditional beliefs, Practices, and Artistic Forms “The Bluest Eye” also contains elements of traditional beliefs, practices, and artistic forms in the later life of Pecola.
When she became pregnant, Claudia and Frieda McTeer, children of the couples whom Pecola lived with, used their money in order to buy marigold seeds. They believed that if this would bear flowers, then the baby of Pecola would live, which is what they wanted despite the opposite stance of the people in their community. The money they used in order to buy the seeds is originally meant for the bicycle they wanted to buy for themselves but because of the importance and great belief they put on this practice, they prioritized the seeds instead of the bike.
Their belief on this particular practice is further reinforced as the plant does not bloom and the baby of Pecola dies, which they could correlate because of the incident. Moreover, it has shown that the artistic manner of communication by the Blacks has been adopted by Morrison. The author wants to present the “aural literature” as she deliberately formed the sentences in such a way that a Black individual will be heard conversing to the audience and to other characters.
To a certain extent, it pushes the approach away from the typical written language but delves more into the spoken language (“Toni Morrison,” 2009). While there are critics who mentioned that “her prose is rich,” she claims that it is an inherent quality of the Black language (“Toni Morrison,” 2009). She treats the manner of speaking observed from the Black people to be a distinct and different set of language that forms a body of its own as modifications and creations have evolved to how they use this language now.
Moreover, it is said that the novel and other literary pieces written in the same manner has replaced the role of music played by the Blacks before (“Toni Morrison,” 2009). However, replacement may not be the term intended for this but rather, they simply shared the same portion and works towards the same goals, because of the same purpose, but uses different means. Preserving the Black Language With the manner by which the author structured the words and the sentences, the Black language has become apparent throughout the text.
The rich and poetic form that is embodied in the language of the Blacks is an element that the author wants to retain. This lies beneath the psychological and social themes of incest, racial discrimination, and desires to be White. It tries to preserve the approach of this language developed within this race through the experiences of the characters and the conversations included in the story. It has been mentioned earlier that the different forms of Black music has shared a role with the literary pieces in keeping the culture alive for the Black community.
With the onset of popular culture and the desires for assimilation, it is important that the unique characteristics and the distinct nature of the Black culture be preserved together with their history and unique experiences. Adopting other Cultures and Traditions As the author means to direct the entire story towards the Black community, most of the cultures and traditions that have been presented come from that of the Blacks. However, it still relates the Black culture into the White because of the interaction between the two that served as the important aspect of the paper.
The only element that is taken from the White culture is the seemingly distorted and limited view of beauty, which requires them to see it within a white-skinned, blonde, and blue-eyed individual. Better treatment and the regard for superiority of people fitting this description has been ingrained into the lives of the Black characters as it is adopted from the White culture. This is seen to be the condition of the people during the time of the narrator’s existence but is constantly changing as we now see it. References Dubey, M. (1994).
Black women novelists and the nationalist aesthetic. Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press. Foerstel, H. (2002). Banned in the USA: A reference guide to book censorship in schools and public libraries. (2nd Ed. ). Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing. Toni Morrison: Biography. (1993). Retrieved April 1, 2009, from http://nobelprize. org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1993/morrison-bio. html. Toni Morrison “The Bluest Eye. ” Retrieved April 1, 2009, from http://academic. brooklyn. cuny. edu/english/melani/cs6/morrison. html#black.