The Innocence of Childhood and Coming of Age Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye story follows the struggle and the vicious life of victim hood that Pecola Breedlove faces. With a viciously abusive father, a mother who does nothing, and a brother who runs away at every turn, Pecola must learn how to live growing up in a society where little black girls like her are scorned for their “ugliness” and like yellow haired blued eyed girls live in the comforts of the world. This not only showcases the tolls of black lives but puts it on the face of a Good ole American backdrop. Through The Bluest Eye, Morrison presents the prejudices faced by African Americans after the Great Depression.

Growing up as a child is an already daunting task forced upon each and every person in the world. The things that come about in childhood are what can decide a person’s life for better or for worse as they age. Pecola in The bluest Eye faces a severely different kind of challenge being a little African American girl growing up in Lorain, Ohio following the end of the great depression. On page 38 one of the very first lines is:”The Breedloves did not live in a storefront because they were having temporary difficulties adjusting to the cutbacks at the plant.They lived there because they were poor and ugly…” This line demonstrates an unique challenge that Pecola faces being described by the author as not only poor but as ugly. This type of thinking on the part of one’s own self is a dangerous and often difficult way for a child so young to grow up knowing. Another page where Pecola is brought up again for her lack of beauty is on both pages 46 “ Every night,without fail,she prayed for blue eyes.”, “‘ I am cute! And you ugly! Black and ugly black emos. I am cute!’” These two lines exemplify a state where children of a black background are treated as lesser. Pecola must face while growing up a need to be beautiful using the standards of whiteness while also having to face insult to her own blackness. A intricate layer of hate for oneself on top of others contempt for you destroys the innocence within a child who is growing up just as it did Pecola.

Another trial faced by Pecola was her abusive father.  Her father’s betrayal and Pecola’s obsession with blue eyes blinds her from seeing that people’s inability to look at her has nothing to do with her actually receiving blue eyes from Soaphead that she thinks occurred but instead their overarching disgust with her father having raped her. This leads into a series of thoughts in Pecola’s head where I can only assume she has begun to go crazy. “Just because I got blue eyes,bluer than theirs, they’re prejudiced.” (pg.197) or “Will you come back if I get them?” “Get what?” “ The bluest eyes. Will you come back then?” (pg.204). These lines shows off so aggressively the trials Pecola had to suffer with. As a little girl growing up in this time she was constantly being confronted by not only her own blackness and never finding acceptance among those who should have accepted her the most but the living with a secret that she can’t comprehend how much this is ruining everything able her childhood. This lack of love and care is what will define her. These beauty standards and this longing has stopped her from getting the chance to be a little girl who’s just growing up and trying to deal with a period. The worst is that she is then impregnated by her father and then loses the baby. “ And now I see her searching the garbage—for what? The thing we assassinated?” (pg.206). This is amazing that she could even not go fully insane but even in the end she still gained no love or anything in the end.

Finally while this book showcased the struggles of Pecola another theme that tied into Pecola’s was the self loathing of black people within in her own community. The use or derogatory and divisive language about themselves show the hate and disdain for their own blackness. At the end of the book a line that stands out the most to me was the end where Toni Morrison ties the principal of the book into one line. “ And fantasy it was, for we were not strong, only aggressive; we were not free, merely licensed; we were not compassionate, we were polite; not good, but well behaved.” (pg.205) This line made this whole story make so much sense. This owning of what they really were and how they were their own worst enemy because all they did was pretend. They were warped into the brainwashing of the white culture of America. This book taking place in the backdrop of a good ole American country was what allowed for white culture to over take what even blacks saw as beauty.

The longing to not be persecuted and instead be accepted has pushed even black to hate themselves. The saddest part is how even in today’s world these themes presented in Toni Morrison’s book are still being presented and represented all of the time in what we watch, The shows we enjoy, and the people we choose to hang out with. While this is the story of Pecola this is also the story on every little black girl in the United States that had to suffer with never knowing why her brown eyes and coils were so despised. This desire to bring down little blacks girls is the themes of this book. The creating of self loathing is what is thrown in the faces of black kids all over the country and what Toni Morrison did was express it through the lives of one girl. She was the face and voice stuffed out and all those around her were the complacent sheep that did nothing but saw everything. Toni Morrison through the master piece shows you what it means to be black and all of the ugliness that it contains in the most artful and well thought out manner.

 

Bibliography

 

Burton, Zisca Isabel. How to Write about Toni Morrison. E-book, New York,

    Bloom’s, 2008. This source gives clean and concise examples on how to write

    an essay about The Bluest Eye. The source also gives many indications to

    what are important parts of the book. There is also a in depth discussion

    about explanation of characters for you to look back on and understand.

 

Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. New York, Vintage Books, 2016. A book written

    about the hate that a little girl named Pecola must endure all of her life

    for not being seen as pretty. She has to fight each and everyday and as you

    see in the book she progresses from a quiet and contained girl to one who

    slowly falls into a world of insanity due to the abuse and the hate she

    receives. In towards the end of the book when you find out why she has

    these set beauty standards it breaks your heart to see someone struggle in

    such a deep and personal way.

 

Sugiharti, Esti. Racialised beauty: Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. PhD

    dissertation. ehlt.flinders.edu.au/projects/counterpoints/PDF/A14.pdf. This

    was a doctorate level thesis that was created to address the study of

    Afro-American and Indigenous People. She is writing in a way to not only

    look at the life of the people but also to address at the same time the

    feminist point of view that has been seen only from the point of view of

    white feminists. She also uses this as a way to establish what blackness is

    to people.

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