The novel begins with a series of sentences that seem to come from a children’s reader, describing a house and the family that lives in the house the child wants to play but no one is available to play. This sequence is repeated and then is repeated a third time without spaces between the words kind of like a nursery rhyme. This is to give an idea showing a child is talking. Pocola’s low self-esteem comes from the physical and sexual abuse that she endured as a child.
She was raped by her father she is abased and abused by many people. In the 1960’s the self-image of black women and girls was determined by the white women that were around. During that time Black was not beautiful to all, white was. The forced white beauty standards contributed to most black women’s low self-esteem during that time. The view of how the mass white culture floods the minds and ideological views of the black community.
Pocola’s low self-esteem comes from the physical and sexual abuse that she endured as a child. She was raped by her father she is abased and abused by many people. She was taught at a young age by her mother Mrs. Breedlove that she wasn’t beautiful, this came from the resentment of her on mother’s skin and she took it out on her daughter. Toni Morrison has a recurring struggle of self-identification and beauty standards.
This is identified with the comparison of black women ; girls to the clichéd blonde hair and blue eyed white women in the 60’s. An example of this would be when Claudia is gifted a white doll that has blonde hair and blue eyes. According to Toni Morrison’s Character Claudia in The Bluest Eye “Adults, older girls, shops, magazines, newspapers, window signs — all the world had agreed that a blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl child treasured.
“Here,” they said, “this is beautiful, and if you are on this day ‘worthy’ you may have it.” Claudia is explaining how confused she is because she does not see the same beauty that is forced on her with blonde hair and blue eyed white girls and baby dolls. She even goes so far as stripping the doll to its core which is a realization that the outside beauty meant nothing because the core was ugly. Something she was considered “worthy” of having she thought was ugly.
Pecola suffers from low self-esteem issues from people calling her ugly and connecting her to negative and ugly things. “It had occurred to Pecola some time ago that if her eyes, those eyes that held the pictures, and knew the sights — if those eyes of hers were different, that is to say, beautiful, she herself would be different…… If she looked different, beautiful, maybe Cholly would be different, and Mrs. Breedlove too. Maybe they’d say, “Why, look at pretty-eyed Pecola.
We mustn’t do bad things in front of those pretty eyes.” Pretty eyes. Pretty blue eyes. Big blue pretty eyes.”( The Bluest Eye) Instead of the traits, she has already, she wants to have Blue eyes. Blue eyes were considered beautiful just like the reference before made to the baby doll. Since the white people dominated the view of beauty, this is why she obsessed over Shirley Temple who had blonde hair and blue eyes. According to the Huff post “She was America’s top box-office draw during the 1930’s, outranking Clark Gable, and receiving more fan mail than Greta Garbo. As a child star, she was amazing,”.(HuffPost).
Claudia is the youngest child of the MacTeer family. She also endures the same issues of colorist and racist beauty standards as Pecola but she is too young to care. According to Toni Morrison’s Character Claudia in The Bluest Eye ” I couldn’t join them in their adoration because I hated Shirley. Not because she was cute, but because she danced with Boj angles, who was my friend, my uncle, my daddy, and who ought to have been soft-shoeing it and chuckling with me.
Instead, he was enjoying, sharing, giving a lovely dance thing with one of those little white girls whose socks never slid down under their heels. So I said, “I like Jane Withers.” Claudia is also the fighter and the rebel as far as going against the views of others. When she is gifted a baby doll that has blonde hair and blue eyes she doesn’t find it as beautiful as others do. Instead, Claudia picks it apart, this is because she is young and has not been able to truly understand self-hatred that the adults have.
She is considered the hopeful character in the novel. Claudia is thrown into situations and has experienced different things which makes her mature but also a child and doesn’t know much about the world yet. Opposite of Claudia, Pecola has self-image problems and is a passive character. Unlike Claudia, Pecola did not grow up in a loving and caring home.
Instead, she grew up in what is described and “ugly” family. Ugly in terms of disastrous home, features, and upbringing. Pecola values the blonde hair and blue eyed people and wants to have the same traits. Out of the two, Claudia is better able to reject white, middle-class America’s definitions of beauty.
Pecola considers Shirley Temple as the perfects little girl. At the beginning of the book, Pecola’s love for her Shirley Temple cup opens the view of her fascination. “My mother was referring to was Pecola. According to Toni Morrison’s Character Claudia in The Bluest Eye “The three of us, Pecola, Frieda, and I, listened to her downstairs in the kitchen fussing about the amount of milk Pecola had drunk.
We knew she was fond of the Shirley Temple cup and took every opportunity to drink milk out of it just to handle and see sweet Shirley’s face.” She gets in trouble for drinking all the milk, Claudia’s mother thinks she is being greedy but she just wants to use her cup at most. To Pecola Shirley Temple is who she wants to be, she considers herself ugly and she feels if she looked more like Shirley Temple.
Where Pecola lives brings conceptual beauty standards such as blonde hair and blue eyes. Maureen symbolizes wealth in the black community. Her family were light skin and have money, she is also new to the neighborhood. According to Toni Morrison’s Character Claudia in The Bluest Eye “Maureen Peal.
A high-yellow dream child with long brown hair braided into two lynch ropes that hung down her back. She was rich, at least by our standards, as rich as the richest of the white girls, swaddled in comfort and care. The quality of her clothes threatened to derange Frieda and me.” Both Shirley Temple and Maureen define the beauty that Pecola wishes she had. Shirley Temple is white with blonde hair and blue eyes and adored by America. Maureen is a beautiful light-skinned black girl with money.
This may be a realization that you can still be black and pretty, she’s just not that. She I identify with this when Maureen calls the three girls Black and ugly black referring to Pecola. “Safe on the other side, she screamed at us, “I am cute! And you ugly! Black and ugly black e mos. I am cute!”(The Bluest Eye)
The Bluest Eyes gives a view of black women during the 60’s and shines the light on the norm that was going on around that time. The novel represented different main situations in the black community. Touches on troubled homes and how black children were taken from the home to be placed in a flawed home that offers more love.
Pecola was the darkest character literally and figuratively. She had the most going on in the novel and. Society has taught her that her skin and feature are ugly and everything she needs to value needs to be white. Being raped by her father and belittled by the whole community. This novel teaches struggle and social discrimination which is a recurring theme. Throughout the novel, Pecola is growing along with the Family she lived with. I’m sure she appreciates being in a loving family but unfortunately, the lesson was about loving herself and learning how to love herself because her mother couldn’t teach her.
“BEAUTY IDEAL OVER THE DECADES Part 7: THE 60’s.” IDEALIST STYLE, www.idealiststyle.com/blog/beauty-ideal-over-the-decades-part-7-the-60s.
“Full Text of ‘The Bluest Eye.'” Internet Archive, The Library Shelf, archive.org/stream/TheBluestEyeFullTextJAMESSUTTON/The Bluest Eye_full text – JAMES SUTTON_djvu.txt.
Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eyes. Alfred A. Knopf Inc., 1993.
Rosas, Alexandra. “Why the Fuss About Shirley Temple Black.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 7 Dec. 2017, www.huffingtonpost.com/alexandra-rosas/why-the-fuss-about-shirle_b_4768929.html.
“The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison Audiobook Fastest Loader.” YouTube, YouTube, 12 Nov. 2017,www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUCS2Orzo84.
According to Toni Morrison’s Chara
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