Beauty and The Bluest Eye


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Beauty and The Bluest Eye

 

Toni Morrison's novel, The Bluest Eye contributes to the study of the American novel by bringing to light an unflattering side of American history. The story of a young black girl named Pecola, growing up in Lorain, Ohio in 1941 clearly illustrates the fact that the "American Dream" was not available to everyone. The world that Pecola inhabits adores blonde haired blue eyed girls and boys. Black children are invisible in this world, not special, less than nothing. The idea that the color of your skin somehow made you lesser was cultivated by both whites and blacks. White skin meant beauty and privilege and that idea was not questioned at this time in history. The idea that the color of your skin somehow made you less of a person contaminated black people's lives in many different ways. The taunts of schoolboys directed at Pecola clearly illustrate this fact; "It was their contempt for their own blackness that gave the first insult its teeth" (65). This self hatred also possessed an undercurrent of anger and injustice that eventually led to the civil rights movement.

 

The characters in this book as well as the time period mark a time in American history that played an important role in the ideas of equality and freedom. All of the elements on which this country were founded upon were twisted so they no longer applied to blacks and other minorities in this country. The life led by Pecola as well as others like her good or bad is a part of history that was experienced by many Americans in all parts of the country. While it is questionable whether total equality has been reached in this country, many ideas have changed for the better. This book is significant because it shows a different side to American literature as well as life. Morrison points out what has changed and what has stayed the same. While people are generally equal, there are still prejudices in the idea of what is beautiful and who is worthy.

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The case of Pecola is different in that it concerns racial prejudice, however the idea that by being beautiful life would be better, still exists. At one point Pecola says, "I she looked different, beautiful, maybe Cholly would be different, and Mrs. Breedlove too"(46). Of course this isn't true, but it is a belief that Americans especially still prescribe to. If they were thinner, fitter, richer, etc. everything would be great.


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