The Bluest Eye Criticism

This essay has a total of 1162 words and 5 pages.

The Bluest Eye

The Bluest Eye is a brilliantly written novel revealing the fictional trauma of an
eleven-year-old black girl named Pecola Breedlove. This story takes place in the town of
Lorain, Ohio during the 1940's. It is told from the perspective of a young girl named
Claudia MacTeer. She and her sister, Frieda, become witness to the terrible plights Pecola
is unintentionally put through. Pecola chooses to hide from her disabling life behind her
clouded dream of possessing the ever so cherished "bluest of eyes". The Breedlove's
constant bickering and ever growing poverty contributes to the emotional downfall of this
little girl. Pecola's misery is obtained through the touch of her father's hand and the
voice of her community's struggle with racial separation, anger, and ignorance. Her
innocence is harshly ripped from her grasp as her father rapes her limp existence. The
community's anger with it's own insecurities is taken out on this poor, ugly, black,
non-ideal, young girl. She shields herself from this sorrow behind her obsessive plea for
blue eyes. But her eyes do not replace the pain of carrying her fleeing father's baby. Nor
do they protect her from the shady eyes of her neighbors. Though this book discuses
negative and disturbing situations, it teaches a very positive lesson.

The theme of The Bluest Eye is that of depending on outside influences to become aware of
one's own beauty and to fabricate one's own self image can be extremely damaging. I feel
that Toni Morrison showed this through each of her characters especially the obvious,
Pecola Breedlove.

One incident, for example, is when Claudia, Frieda, Pecola, and Maureen Peal, a well-loved
"beauty" of Lorain, are walking home from school. As the girls saunter down the street,
they begin to bicker. The conversation ends with Maureen stomping away and establishing
the fact that she is indeed "cute". Claudia then thinks to herself, "If she was cute--and
if anything could be believed, she was--then we were not. And what did that mean? We were
lesser. Nicer, brighter, but still lesser. Dolls we could destroy, but we could not
destroy the honey voices of parents and aunts, the obedience in the eyes of our peers, the
slippery light in the eyes of our teachers when they encouraged the Maureen Peals of the
world. What was the secret? What did we lack? Why was it important? And so what?. . . And
all the time we knew that Maureen Peal was not the Enemy and not worthy of such intense
hatred. The Thing to fear was the Thing that made her beautiful, and not us."(74) Claudia
and Frieda are engulfed in the mindset of this "picture perfect" girl all of the parents
and friends ogled over. They allow this incident to not only let Maureen rise above them
with her power of snobbish beauty, but to shrink their self-esteem into what Maureen had
decided it should be.

Pauline, Pecola's self-centered mother, has also been caught up in the excitement of
radiance. She constantly is depending on the movies to decree the characteristics of
beauty. "She was never able, after her education in the movies, to look at a face and not
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