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.
Pecola Breedlove suffered the most because she was the result of having others’ anger dumped on her, and she herself was unable to get angry. 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 she once thought were beautiful. 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). They 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.
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…
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…(than shame). There is a sense of being in anger. A reality of presence. An awareness of worth”(50). the blacks are not strong, only aggressive; they are not compassionate, only polite; they were not good, but well behaved; they substituted good grammar for intellect, and rearranged lies to make them truth(205). Most of all, they faked love where felt powerless to hate, and destroyed what love they did have with anger.
Toni Morrison tells this story to show the sadness in the way that the blacks were compelled to place their anger on their own families and on their blackness instead of on whites who cause their misery. Although they didn’t know this, “The Thing to fear(and thus hate) was the Thing that made her beautiful, and not us”(74), whiteness.
Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. Afterward by Toni Morrison. New York: Penguin, 1994.
Quest for Personal Identity in The Bluest Eye
Quest for Personal Identity in The Bluest Eye
A main theme in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye is the quest for individual identity and the influences of the family and community in that quest. This theme is present throughout the novel and evident in many of the characters. Pecola Breedlove, Cholly Breedlove, and Pauline Breedlove and are all embodiments of this quest for identity, as well as symbols of the quest of many of the many Black people that were moving to the north in search of greater opportunities.
The Breedlove family is a group of people under the same roof, a family by name only. Cholly (the father) is a constantly drunk and abusive man. His abusive manner is apparent towards his wife Pauline physically and towards his daughter Pecola sexually. Pauline is a “mammy” to a white family and continues to favor them over her biological family. Pecola is a little black girl with low self esteem. The world has led her to believe that she is ugly and that the epitome of “beautiful” requires blue eyes. Therefore every night she prays that she will wake up with blue eyes.
Brought up as a poor unwanted girl, Pecola Breedlove desires the acceptance and love of society. The image of “Shirley Temple beauty” surrounds her. In her mind, if she was to be beautiful, people would finally love and accept her. The idea that blue eyes are a necessity for beauty has been imprinted on Pecola her whole life. “If [I] looked different, beautiful, maybe Cholly would be different, and Mrs. Breedlove too. Maybe they would say, `Why look at pretty eyed Pecola. We mustn’t do bad things in front of those pretty [blue] eyes'” (Morrison 46). Many people have helped imprint this ideal of beauty on her. Mr. Yacowbski as a symbol for the rest of society’s norm, treats her as if she were invisible. “He does not see her, because for him there is nothing to see. How can a fifty-two-year-old white immigrant storekeeper… see a little black girl?” (Morrison 48). Her classmates also have an effect on her. They seem to think that because she is not beautiful, she is not worth anything except as the focal point of their mockery. “Black e mo. Black e mo. Yadaddsleepsnekked. Black e mo black e mo ya dadd sleeps nekked.