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"The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison Tony Morrison became the prominent American writer of the second half of the 20 th century mainly because of her novel The Bluest Eye published in 1970. The family relations, beauty and ugliness cruelty and love are in the centre of the novel. The novel is narrated by a young black girl, Claudia Matter and the reader realizes through her perception the atmosphere in the family of her friend Pecola Breedlove, who lives in the family in which the relations between the family members are very cruel. The topic of racial inequality is one of the central topics. The Pecola's mother Pauline is hostile to her family because she keeps comparing the life of the white family for whom she works as a maid with hers seeing in the life of the whites some kind of ideal. The novel is focused on the tragedy of African Americans who try to resist conventional standards of beauty of the whites and fail to do that.
The novel is built on the passionate desire of Pecola to be loved by her family and her school friends. The novel is about the search of identity by a black girl. Pecola thinks that the reason of the hostile attitude towards her from the family and schoolmates is her black skin and she wants to resemble the American idols like Shirley Temple. The topic of beauty and its understanding is in the centre of the novel. Claudia, a friend of Pecola keeps facing the ideals of beauty which are parts of the white culture. These ideals of beauty raise her inferiority complex.
Claudia receives a doll as a Christmas present. That doll is made as an ideal of American beauty, white skinned and blue eyed. Claudia angrily destroys the doll because it reminds her ideal of a beauty from which Claudia herself is very far. The Breedloves are poor and ugly. This is their own perception of themselves caused by the media. This fact develops their inferiority complex, they do not want even to try achieving the success because their inferiority complex made them think they would never succeed.
This inferiority complex makes Pecola think that all her troubles are caused by her ugliness. She does not have any standards of beauty unless those, brought by the American media, i. e. the bluest eyes. Her complex is so high that she hates herself, she hates watching herself in the mirror. She thinks that if she had blue eyes her problems would go away.
This is the ultimate howl of despair of a girl. She is not able to realize the true causes of her troubles and finds the false and unreal reason. The trouble of Pecola is that she tries to apply the standards of beauty of the white society to herself. She can not realize critically that all those idols with white hair and blue eyes are artificial and unreal. They are part of American culture, an American dream to encourage people to their utmost success.
One problem is that dream is associated with the white culture only and it is painful for African Americans. The perception of the beauty is coming to black girls through the images of well known American actresses like Betty Grable. The topic of racism is touched in the novel. It is given through a permanent comparison of the blacks with the white American idols. When Pauline is ready to give a birth to her second child the doctor explains the students that black women deliver right away without pain, just like horses. Pauline makes a noise just to show the doctor that she is not a horse.
The words of narrator about the destructiveness of the physical beauty and romantic love are given in the context when Pauline, pregnant black American woman was watching history of romantic love in the movie theatre. She broke her tooth then as if recapitulating the comparison of romantic love in the movie with her current state. The image of Jean Harlow from the screen destroys the Pauline's identity as a woman, her belief in American dream and her own beauty. The broken tooth as if symbolizes her belief in happiness which is destroyed. The novel of Toni Morrison is a brilliant masterpiece of American literature. The problems of beauty and ugliness are used to narrate the racial inequality in America, racial inequality which occurs in perception of the African Americans, it is a challenge for people to rethink their attitude towards themselves, call for self esteem.
Bibliography Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye.
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