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The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Essay by   •  June 30, 2011  •  Book/Movie Report  •  885 Words (4 Pages)  •  946 Views

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The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison opens with happy descriptions of the family from the Fun With Dick and Jane series. The description of their perfect lives is repeated several times: the first time the descriptions appear perfectly. Then they appear without any punctuation, though they are still legible; the last time however, the words are completely condensed, making the text almost impossible to read. In the total absence of punctuation the text is reduced to nothing more than a meaningless juxtaposition of letters. This gradual degradation of meaning in the description of Dick and Jane's family life is significant in that it parallels Pecola, our protagonist's, own decay. In this degeneration of meaning Morrison also tries to make clear that the black community (and Pecola's family in particular) will not be able to live up to this ideal. Pecola's ruined childhood portrays Morrison's theme that a hostile society may ultimately destroy the potential growth of the young.

The novel begins in Autumn, a transformational time for Pecola. It is during this time that she first menstruates and begins to question how someone becomes pregnant, and how to get someone to love her. There is no adult willing to discuss what this change means for Pecola, so neither of these questions are answered in an adequate way. Morrison indeed shows that there is a dearth of love in the Breedlove household. Because of Cholly and Mrs. Breedlove's own experiences with a hostile and unrealistic world, they are unable to impart love on their own children. Cholly is too busy playing the role of the irresponsible father who is holding on so dearly to his sense of abandonment by his parents and his violation by white men that he drowns his sorrows in drink. Mrs. Breedlove's own foible seems to lie in her affinity for playing the role of Jesus-loving martyr. Both parents are so violent that when Pecola undergoes this change from childhood to adolescence the family is "outdoors" because Cholly set the house on fire, and she must be fostered by the McTeers. Thus, her family fails her in providing what is a bare bones necessity for the development of a healthy child: food, shelter, and a sense of safety.

The outside world is no less accepting of Pecola. In a world in which white is not only right, but beautiful, Pecola (like the rest of the Breedloves) believes that she is ugly. Pecola's interaction with the shopkeeper are very telling. It is significant that he does not see her, nor does he want to touch her. Instead, his demeanor is stolid and cruel. Situations such as these reinforce Pecola's perception that she is ugly and that something is wrong with her. Pecola assumes that the antipathy that people show toward her is her fault. Because she has no adult to tell her different (because they are so wrapped up in their own self-loathing), Pecola is consumed with the belief that

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