The bluest eye is not just a story created by the author, but a series of very painful impressions. Reading the book is a cry for remedy (Ruby 20). However, Morrison puts across issues which are painful whilst trying to show the hope as well as encouragement that is below the surface. Though the theme of racism is easily seen through Morrison’s work, there are other significant issues which are evident. Pecola’s parents have made her experience a lot of damage through negligence and abuse. Her mother believed that Pecola was ugly from birth. The negativity and self-hatred as seen in Pecola is most likely that it was initiated by the failure of her family to make provision for socialization, love, identity as well as security. These are very crucial for the development of a child (Lucy 23).
The parents of Pecola have only the capability of offering her a life of limited possibility in her childhood. She has become a child of uncertainty. She has really worked hard to get herself in the unproductive soil which only leads the way to the analysis of unfruitful life (Lucy 21-26). The perception of physical appearance as a desirable quality is the focus of the problems shown in the bluest eye. The things evident here are responses of the overwhelming picture of beauty: adjustment, acceptance as well as rejection (Lucy 21). Morison puts forward the reactions through Pecola Breedlove to the value of the physical criteria.
The beauty standard is indeed a problem to Pecola as it makes her to have a crisis in identity. The environment where Pecola is has no place for her as opposed to Maureen, her classmate as she seems to cope up well in the society (Morrison 62). The influence of Maureen is very crucial in this narration. She charmed the whole school. All the blacks paved the way for Maureen when she was on the way to the sink. Many people could just flock in the table where she took her meals from (Morrison 62-63).
On the other side, Pecola was despised because she was colored; this was a great insult to her honor and pride (Morison 65). All through the novel, Pecola is regarded as filthy and ugly. This has been adopted as the description given to the blacks and more especially the girls. Claudia has tried very much to avoid the standards of the white. She does not seem to like anything of the whites, even dolls (Morison 190). Both racism and sexism have affected the blacks of Lorain and especially the women. Sexism apparently is more serious to many of the women owing to the way they present themselves in the world outsides. The women have made efforts to portray the already determined role for women generally.
Why the segregation? The plight of black women is not felt by any group in the society. In any occasion that involves women coming together, the black woman is portrayed as not fit in any group; be it at school or any other social gathering. This has infiltrated fears in them as they apparently are unable to fulfill this role. The failure to meet the already set standards in the society is really a humiliating affair to the black women. Pecola, Claudia, Macteer and Frieda have developed self hatred within themselves because of this (Haskel 46).
There is evident discrimination on grounds of sex or some sort of prejudice experienced by all black women. Sexism has been utilized as a tool which oppresses women. As far as it can be traced, the women have been portrayed in a way in which they are required to cover a good percentage of the needs of her family like being at home most of the times. Other duties as portrayed by Morison are such roles of preparing hot meals, providing care for the children, and cleaning the house. All these women aforementioned here have their specific way in which the author has used them to portray the discrimination shown in here.
Racism on the other hand has also affected the welfare of women in the society. The women have been subjugated under the race of the whites. Race has counted a lot for the differences in the character of human as well as the ability to do certain things in this novel. The whites have been portrayed as superior using their own set standards which the black women find it hard to come by. Discrimination has therefore been rampant on the black race. In this case, it has been used to discriminate against the black women.
Self hatred has taken over in the black race consequently as a result of the failure by the blacks themselves to meet the standards already set by the whites. They now begin to discriminate themselves against each other; whether it is blacks who are dark-skinned or light skinned or them that are rich against the poor and the vulnerable. There is in addition the most prevalent manner of racism which is seen in the whites against the blacks. Claudia, Macteer has indeed experienced racism more than sexism.
Claudia has really suffered from racist standards of beauty that has been set by the society for the young girls. Claudia however hates the whites to an epic degree. This has been very much evident in the way she hates the white people as well as the hate for a doll which is a white baby. She is of the opinion that even these white dolls represent the white culture and its people. She is of the view that she cannot be regarded as a good-looking girl because people have the notion that it is only the little white girls who are beautiful (Patrice 109-128).
Claudia is indeed a very strong character and does not let anything disrupt her own state of mind as opposed to many characters all through the novel. Like Claudia, her sister Frieda is also faced with the same vice of racism. The racists’ standards of beauty as well as sexism have also been a challenge for Frieda. However, Frieda’s case is worse than her sister Claudia. She was molested by a Mr. Henry which makes her think that she is completely ruined. Frieda is frightened due to the reason that she does not expect to be ruined and become like the Maginot Line, the, huge, fat and dreadful prostitute of the town (Morison 101).
Frieda has gone through sexism as she is subjugated under the aforementioned Mr. Henry who was of a high status than her. Consequently, Frieda thought that she was bad looking which executes the way her standards of beauty became challenged. Frieda does not want her image in the society to be interfered with. The main character, Pecola is a rape victim and a victim of both sexism and racism. Her father rapes her since he is in need of something to take away his frustrations. Looking at the events in the store, Mr. Yacobowski is ruthless to Pecola and he is not ready get her hand the moment Pecola asks for Mary Jane candies.
Pecola just makes up her mind that she is bad looking and in fact hates the way she looks just because she does not have blonde hair as well as blue eyes. These are the features that the entire society has set as standards for beauty. This is a clear indication that girls have been threatened more by sexism than through racism. Both Frieda and Claudia hate Maureen, the light skinned girl even though she is black. This shows how self-hatred has taken roots; the blacks showing hatred for their fellow blacks. Maureen is perceived to posses the looks as well as has money. Every person at school likes Maureen. She really fits in the standards of the society; shed has what it takes to become part of the beauty standard. Maureen has what most girls do not have.
The elderly in the society apparently have same experiences like the girls. They all feel that they are ugly including Pauline, the mother to Pecola. Her foot is deformed while her family has been torn apart. It is amazing the way Pauline enjoys working in a big white family as a servant where she can watch movies with romance. In that position, she feels required. She is more interested in maintaining the roles of a woman in the traditional society. The humiliation that has hit the entire society has forced her to really devote herself in what many would not love to be or be associated with (Martha 34-40).
The struggle all through the novel is evident. The hatred that has been shown by the black girls towards the whites shows the desire in most black women to experience fair treatment with the white. All the women in the novel are in one way or another, victims of the issue of self hatred as seen in other characters. As a result of this, the women start to come up with their own inner problems. Even though racism does not occur all through the novel, what the women fear most is sexism. This has really eaten into every borne of the fabric of the society regarding the issues of black women.
The matters of racist standard of beauty and sexism are what have alerted many to realize the wrong things with the women. This has prompted them to realize what to change so that they cannot be regarded as unsuccessful in the society in which they live. It has been very evident that anger is good and healthy. It is only the angry who are likely not to suffer. In this novel, anger is working better for the blacks than just waiting for shame. What we see here is anger flaring all over because of racism and sexism. The blacks are not that strong; they are only aggressive and not compassionate but only polite; they were really not good.
In the course of the novel, racial self-hatred has been shown as demoralizing as well as a self destructing aspect to each and every character and more especially the blacks. Socially and morally, the blacks are indeed inferior to their white counterparts. This fact has been accepted by all and amazingly by even the blacks themselves. The protagonist, Pecola has the conviction that she can be regarded as beautiful if she had blue eyes; the black women no longer appreciate themselves as they have developed self hatred. As a result of this, Pecola goes insane as she cannot meet these set standards of the society (Portrait of a Victim in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, par. 2-6).
Haskel, Frankel, “Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye,” in New York Times Book Review, November 1, 1970, p.46
Lucy, Crystal J. Ancestral Wisdom in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye Preview Journal of Ideas, 2004 fall; Proteus 21 (2): 21-26
Martha Bayles, “Special Effects, Special Pleading,” in The New Criterion, Vol 6, No 2, January, 1988, pp. 34-40.
Patrice Cormier-Hamilton, “Black Naturalism and Tom Morrison. The Journey Away from Self-Love in The Bluest Eye,” MELUS, Vol. 19, winter, 1994, pp. 109-28
“Portrait of a Victim in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye.” 123HelpMe.com. 03 Apr 2009. 06 April 2010 <http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id=5466>.
Ruby, Dee, “Black Family Search for Identity,” in Freedom ways, Vol XI, 1971, pp. 319-20.
Susan, Blake, “Toni Morrison,” in Dictionary of Literary Biography: Afro-American Fiction Writers After 1955, edited by Thadious M. David and Trudier Hams, Vol. 33, Gale, 1984, pp 187-99.