The Bluest Eye - Morrison's Attempt to Induce White Guilt


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The Bluest Eye - Morrison's Attempt to Induce White Guilt


I've heard the fable before, three times in fact. Originally, the oracle in question was always an old man, an Asian philosopher and blind. The boys carried in a live bird, not a dead bird as she described as a "small bundle of life sacrificed" or the absence of bird altogether. The boys asked the same question. If the philosopher answered dead, they would let it fly away, but if he answered alive, they would kill it and drop it at his feet, proving him wrong with either answer. When the old, wise, blind man was presented with the question, he pondered it a bit and deduced their scheme. He answered, "The fate of that bird is in your hands."

Toni Morrison altered the fable in her Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, offering her perception of it, which is understandable as she is a writer and is building an analogy to it. Writers often focus on perception in stories and some writers need to as in the case of Morrison and The Bluest Eye. The perception and point of view in which the story is told to the reader is essential for Morrison to build her case. She needs to suck the reader into her framework of thinking using stories of abuse and neglect to create compassion and sympathy for the characters of her story. The catch is, she's not telling a story so much as selling a product.

When a good salesman pushes an item, the first step is to have the audience succumb to his way of thinking. Morrison's product here is a philosophy, an idea that is the theme of her book. That idea is that physical beauty is "probably the most destructive idea in the history of human thought." She pushes this idea right through the reader's brain. It is the ruin of the black girls. If only they were pretty. If only they had pretty blue eyes.

We might be able to think of beauty as the bird. True beauty, in Morrison's ideology, would be the absence of the bird. Lacking in physical attributes, but representative of all things free and without boundaries. If the bird is present, whether alive or dead, the physical intrusiveness of it then defines its beauty.

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For instance, it's beautiful if it is a dove, but repulsive if it is a crow and a turkey would only be welcomed as a beautiful dinner.

Morrison's technique works wonders on a romantic and compassionate mind. Readers of this sort will accept her dogma without hesitation. However, an individual who is more analytical rather than passionate won't buy her sales pitch. Physical beauty, or rather lack thereof, does not alone keep one restrained by society's expectations. If it did Mick Jagger, Rosanne Barr, and Oprah Winfrey would never have become household names. When Morrison's sales pitch fails, the book appears nothing more than an attempt to induce white guilt.


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