The Bluest Eye


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	Misdirection of Anger "Anger is better [than shame]. There is a sense of

being in anger. A reality of presence. An awareness of worth."(50) This is how

many of the blacks in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye felt. They faked love when

they felt powerless to hate, and destroyed what love they did have with anger.

The Bluest Eye shows the way that the blacks were compelled to place their

anger on their own families and on their own blackness instead of on the white

people who were the cause of their misery. In this manner, they kept their anger

circulating among themselves, in effect oppressing themselves, at the same time

they were being oppressed by the white people. Pecola Breedlove was a young

black girl, growing up in Lorain, Ohio in the early 1940's. Her life was one of the

most difficult in the novel, for she was almost totally alone. She suffered the

most because she had to withstand having others' anger dumped on her,

internalized this hate, and was unable to get angry herself. Over the course of

the novel, this anger destroys her from the inside. When Geraldine yells at her

to get out of her house, Pecola's eyes were fixed on the "pretty" lady and her

"pretty" house. Pecola does not stand up to Maureen Peal when she made fun of

her for seeing her dad naked but instead lets Freida and Claudia fight for her.

Instead of getting mad at Mr. Yacobowski for looking down on her, she directed

her anger toward the dandelions that she once thought were beautiful. The

dandelions also represent her view of her blackness, once she may have

thought that she was beautiful, but like the dandelions, she now follows the

majorities' view. However, "the anger will not hold"(50), and the feelings soon

gave way to shame. Pecola was the sad product of having others' anger placed

on her: "All of our waste we dumped on her and she absorbed. And all of our

beauty, which was hers first and which she gave to us"(205). The other black

people felt beautiful next to her ugliness, wholesome next to her uncleanness,

her poverty made them generous, her weakness made them strong, and her pain

made them happier. In effect, they were oppressing her the same way the whites

were oppressing them. When Pecola's father, Cholly Breedlove, was caught as

a teenager in a field with Darlene by two white men, "never did he once consider

directing his hatred toward the hunters"(150), rather her directed his hatred

towards the girl because hating the white men would "consume" him.

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He was

powerless against the white men and was unable to protect Darlene from them

as well. This caused his to hate her for being in the situation with him and for

realizing how powerless her really was. Cholly also felt that any misery his

daughter suffered was his fault, and looking in to Pecola's loving eyes angered

him because her wondered, "What could her do for her - ever? What give her?

What say to her?"(161) Cholly's failures led him to hate those that he failed, like

Darlene, and most of all his family. His self loathing and pain, all misdirected at

himself, his family, and blacks in general, all contributed to his ultimate failure,

his rape of his daughter. Pecola's mother, Polly Breedlove, also wrongly placed

her anger on her family. As a result of having a crippled foot, Polly had always

had a feeling of unworthiness and separateness. With her own children, she felt

emotionless, only able to express rage, "sometimes I'd catch myself hollering at

them and beating them, but I couldn't seem to stop"(124). She stopped taking

care of her own children and her own home and took care of a white family and

their home. She found praise, acceptance, power, and ultimately whiteness with

the Fisher family, and it is for these reasons that she stayed with them. "The

creditors and service people who humiliated her when she went to them on her

own behalf respected her, were even intimidated by her, when she spook for the

Fishers."(128) She had been deprived of such feeling from her family when

growing up and in turn deprived her own family of these same feelings. Polly

"held Cholly as a mode on sin and failure, she bore him like a crown of thorns,

and her children like a cross"(126). Pecola's friend Claudia McTeer is angry at

the beauty of whiteness and attempts to dismember white dolls to find where

their beauty lies. There is a sarcastic tone in her voice when she spoke of

having to be "worthy" to play with the dolls. Later, when telling the story as a

past experience, she describes the adults' tone of voice as being filled with

years of unfulfilled longing, perhaps a longing to be themselves beautifully white.

Claudia herself was happiest when she stood up to Maureen Peal, the beautiful

girl from her class. When Claudia and Freida taunted her as she ran down the

street, they were happy to get a chance to express anger, and "we were still in

love with ourselves then"(74). Claudia's anger towards dolls turns to hated of

white girls. Out of a fear for his anger the she could not comprehend, she later

tool a refuge in loving whites. She had to at least pretend to love whites or, like

Cholly, the hatred would consume her. Later however, she realizes that this

change was "an adjustment without improvement"(23), and that making herself

love them only fooled herself and helped her cope. Had she allowed herself to

continue to allow herself to get angry, she would have survived better, but it was

to difficult, even for someone as strong-willed as Claudia, to stand up to this

perfect oppression machine. Soaphead Church wrongly places his anger on God

and blamed him for "screwing-up" human nature. He asked God to explain how

he could let Pecola's wish for blue eyes go so long without being answered and

scorned God for not loving Pecola. Despite his own sins, Soaphead feels that he

had a right to blame God and to assume his role in granting Pecola blue eyes,

although he knew that beauty was not necessarily a physical thing but a state of

mind and being: "No one else will see her blue eyes. But she will"(182). The

Mobile girls wrongly placed their anger in their own race, and they do not give of

themselves fully to anyone, even to their family. These girls hate niggers

because according to them, "colored people were neat and quiet; niggers were

dirty and loud"(87). Black children, or they as Geraldine called them, were like

flies: "They slept six to a bed, all their pee mixing together in the night as they

wet their beds. . . they clowned on the playgrounds, broke things in dime stores,

ran in front of you on the street. . . grass wouldn't grow where they lived. Flowers

died. Like flies they hovered; like flies they settled"(92). Although the Mobile girls

are black themselves, they ". . .got rid of the funkiness. The dreadful funkiness of

passion, the funkiness of nature, the funkiness of the wide range of human

emotions,"(83) and most of all they tried to rid themselves of the funkiness of

being black. Because they saw how white people treated blacks, they could not

acknowledge the fact that they, themselves were black, and they tried to become

something else. The easiest way for them to do this was to insult black people,

and push them lower, so they themselves could rise to the top. They were shut

out by the whites because they did not belong, but shut themselves off from their

own black race, by trying to be white. In The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison shows

that anger is healthy and that it is not something to be feared; those who are not

able to get angry are the ones who suffer the most. She criticizes Cholly, Polly,

Claudia, Soaphead Church, the Mobile Girls, and Pecola because these blacks

in her story wrongly place their anger on themselves, their own race, their family,

or even God, instead of being angry at those they should have been angry at:

whites. Although they didn't know it, "The Thing to fear was the Thing that made

her beautiful, and not us."(74)


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