The Bluest Eye Argumentative Essay

This essay has a total of 5212 words and 19 pages.

The Bluest Eye

The major characters in The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison were Pecola Breedlove, Cholly
Breedlove, Claudia MacTeer, and Frieda MacTeer. Pecola Breedlove is an eleven-year-old
black girl around whom the story revolves. Her innermost desire is to have the "bluest"
eyes so that others will view her as pretty in the end that desire is what finishes her,
she believes that God gives her blue eyes causing her insanity. She doesn't have many
friends other than Claudia and Frieda. Throughout the book we see how Pecola is picked on
by other children her age and then later on abused by Cholly, her own father. Her mother
doesn't care for her either her actions toward Pecola are not without contempt. Cholly
Breedlove is Pecola's drunken father. He has never known a loving family; his father
deserted him and his mother who then left him to die in a garbage can. His great aunt
saves him and raises him until her death, which occurred when Cholly was only thirteen or
fourteen years old. Cholly himself deserts his family, not physically but he is always in
a drunken state and doesn't provide the family with the barest necessities. Cholly dies
alone in a warehouse. Claudia MacTeer is the main narrator in the story. She is about nine
years old when they story takes place, she is remembering the story. Claudia is black and
doesn't see anything wrong with that. She isn't like the other girls who think it would be
better if she was white, she doesn't buy into that idea, she destroys the white dolls that
she receives for Christmas. Claudia has learned from her mother how to be a strong black
female and express her opinion in a white dominated society. Frieda is a lot like her
sister and had the same morals imposed on her by her mother. Frieda is about ten years old
when the story takes place.


The book The Bluest Eye is not told in chronological order and skips from the story to a
look into the past of certain characters. There are two narrators, Claudia MacTeer is one
who tells the actual story but there is also an omniscient narrator who tells us about the
character's lives. The book starts in the fall of 1940 and Claudia and Frieda have just
gone back to school. Their family is having some troubles paying the bills so they rent a
room out to Mr. Henry but then find out that they will have another guest soon because
Pecola Breedlove is going to come stay with them because her father has just burned down
their house. We then hear memories about the time when Pecola is living with the MacTeers
and then the second narrator comes in and gives us some background on the Breedlove
family. This is when we find out about Pecola's wish for blue eyes and her living
situation before she came to the MacTeers. The next season we hear about from Claudia is
winter. She tells us about a girl named Maureen who is "perfect" in the eyes of all the
other students and teachers. Claudia, Frieda and Maureen are walking home together, even
though Claudia and Frieda don't like her, when they see Pecola getting harassed by some
boys in the school yard and they rescue her. Maureen tries to befriend Pecola but only to
torture her some more. Frieda stands up for Pecola but then Maureen makes a comment on how
the girls are black and therefor ugly which hurts Pecola even more. Now we hear from the
second narrator again about a woman named Geraldine and her son Junior. Junior sees Pecola
and invites her into the house to supposedly show her some kittens and give her one.
Junior kills his mother's beloved cat and blames it on Pecola. Geraldine shoves Pecola out
of the house calling her "black" as if it was an insult, which just adds to her harassment
by others. We hear from Claudia again about the spring where the roomer Mr. Henry sexually
harasses Frieda and about how the whippings they receive are worse in the spring. Claudia
and Frieda go to visit Pecola and find her at the home of the white people where her
mother works. The omniscient narrator comes in again and tells us about Pauline
Breedlove's childhood and the beginning of her marriage to Cholly. We also hear about
Cholly's childhood. The next major event, whish is told by the second narrator, is when
Cholly comes home drunk one day and rapes his own daughter and just leaves her lying on
the kitchen floor. Again from the second narrator we find out about "Soaphead" Church who
is "Faith Healer" he claims he speak to god. Pecola asks him for blue eyes and he has her
kill a dog that he was too repulsed by to kill himself and says she will have blue eyes if
something happens to the dog when she gives him the "food." We now hear from Claudia again
about the summer, when everyone finds out that Pecola is pregnant by her father. Pecola
has gone insane and she only speaks to her imaginary friend who she views to be real.
Pecola believes that she has blue eyes. In the last section we find out that the baby dies
because it was born prematurely and that Pecola lives with her mother on the edges of
town, he father has died and her brother has left town.


In The Bluest Eye Toni Morrison makes a judgement on the human condition. Her opinion is
that people depend on the world to find their self-value and their self-worth. This
opinion has had a lot of truth in my life. I used to look at others to figure out how I
should be feeling and what others saw of me I saw in myself. That view on life gave me a
lot of problems. I believe that what Toni Morrison is saying about the human condition is
true in some ways. It's sad that we rely on others to see what we should see in ourselves.
The people who have gotten away from that trend have made a great improvement in their
lives.


There are many movies and t.v. shows that have this point of view because it is sadly a
fact of life. The one movie that stands out in my mind is a French movie called "Le diner
des cons." Which is about these friends who find the weirdest people to take to diner and
the one who has the "weirdest" wins, this one guy thinks it is wrong yet to fit in with
his "friends" he goes along with the scheme. The people who are chosen think they are
really making friends but it is all a scam. There are many people who would do anything to
fit in with the "cool" group. I think it is sad that we decide who we are by the group of
people we associate with.


Being a black child growing up in the 1940's you faced a lot of criticism and harassment
not only from the white children but also from other black children. Pecola Breedlove is a
good example of the constant harassment. She was hurt and harassed by everyone even her
own parents. She had low self-esteem and a low self worth because of her surroundings
while Frieda and Claudia thought more of themselves because of their upbringing. I liked
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, it isn't my favorite book out of the ones that I have
read but I enjoyed it, some parts were a little too graphic for me though. Even so this
book is within the top five books that I have ever read.



Second Paper A Reality Of Presence


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 the girl because hating the white men would "consume" him.
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. Also, Cholly 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, most of all
his family.
Pecola's mother, Polly Breedlove, also wrongly placed her anger on her family. As a
result of having a deformed foot, Polly had always had a feeling of unworthiness and separateness.
With her own children, "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 home and took
care of a white family and their home. She found praise, love, and acceptance with the Fisher
family, and it is for these reasons that she stayed with them. She had been deprived of such
feelings 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 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.
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 ot assume his role in granting Pecola blue eyes, although
her 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(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 wt 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. They were shut off by the whites because they did not belong, but shut themselves off
from their own black race.
To the blacks in The Bluest Eye, "Anger is better(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 behave; 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.



Third Paper Quest For Personal Identity In Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye

Post World War I, many new opportunities were given to the growing and
expanding group of African Americans living in the North. Almost 500,00
African Americans moved to the northern states between 1910 and 1920. This
was the beginning of a continuing migration northward. More than 1,500,000
blacks went north in the 1930's and 2,500,00 in the 1940's. Life in the
North was very hard for African Americans. Race riots, limited housing
resulting in slum housing, and restricted job opportunities were only a few
of the many hardships that the African American people had to face at this
time. Families often had to separate, social agencies were overcrowded with
people that all needed help, crime rates increased and many other resulting
problems ensued. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison takes place during this
time period. A main theme in this novel is the "quest for individual
identity and the influences of the family and community in that quest"
(Trescott). 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 Black northern newcomers of that time.
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
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