A few decades ago, racial discrimination has been a great concern for many, as it existed in all aspects of the society. What we know of discrimination is that a certain race, color, or ethnicity views themselves superior to others, and the ones who often get discriminated often are the blacks, because of their history of slavery and abuse from the whites (Kuenz). This is the most common form of discrimination at that time. What some wouldn’t know is that discrimination is not limited to one race discriminating another.
The other form of discrimination is racial self-loathing, or hating one’s own race because he views it to be inferior, ugly, poor, and the like. In Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, racial self-loathing in the black community is exposed and attacked through the development of Pecola Breedlove’s character. This development was clearly shown through her desires and aspirations of becoming white – of achieving the bluest eye, in order to attract attention and live a happy life. The idea of racial self-loathing was exposed and attacked when eventually her desires and aspirations were destroyed, driving her to insanity.
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Pecola Breedlove is a picture of a dreamer who seeks a better life at the start of the novel. All throughout the story, it was shown that she desires a few things, hoping that it could change her and her surroundings. One of these desires is to learn how she would be able to make people love her. Being born black, and experiencing a short stay with the MacTeers who are whites, she was able to understand how different she was. Her stay in the white household was very important because she was able to develop hatred for her race.
She wanted attention, just like the attention being given to the white kids in the household. Pecola views that it was the overall features that would attract the attention of other people. She hated the color of her skin and her eyes. She thought that if her skin was white and her eyes were blue, more people would be able to notice her and love her (Wills). It was narrated in the story that “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” (Morrison).
At this point of the story, we now see the intensity of her desire to shed her physical features as a black girl. We may judge that her desires were only skin deep, and that it was only her childish jealousy speaking. But still, she would grow up with this mentality, and one proof of this was her mother. It can be seen that this racial self-loathing can transcend age, and it doesn’t get any simpler, in fact, it gets worse. Pecola’s mother also hated her color and features, and the indirect effect of this is her fights and arguments with her husband.
It was the fights between her parents that insinuated Pecola’s desire to disappear. She often witnesses her mother and father beating up each other. She feels that it was again caused by their color, intensifying her desire to be different. She taught that if she was white or at least she has the bluest eyes, her parents would be happy and love each other. Her brother wouldn’t run away, and everything would turn out well. Somehow, she uses her racial self loathing as a means to an end. She thinks that the problem is rooted on color, and it would be resolved by color.
Looking closely at Pecola’s understanding of her situation, we may say that she uses her desire for the bluest eyes as an escape. She wanted a new, different life, one rooted on love, care, and attention. She sees no difference between her and the white children except well, they’re white. It was pointed out by Claudia when she said “Nobody paid us any attention, so we paid very good attention to ourselves” (Morrison). If that is so, then the only thing that she wanted to change was her appearance, and she thinks that this would be the solution to all of her problems.
At the end of the story, Pecola was driven into madness because her desires were never fulfilled. Instead, the entire world seemed to turn against her. She was sexually violated by her father two times. Her mother didn’t believe her, and even beat her up. She bore the fruit of the abuse, but it was lost in a miscarriage. Looking at the start of the story, we see a big change in Pecola. The hopeful child from the start was almost destroyed by violence in the end. This development in her character was the author’s take on the existing idea of racial self loathing at that time.
For Toni Morrison, Pecola embodied every black person who hated their color. Toni Morrison’s take on racial self loathing is evident in the character of Pecola. Desiring for a better life by hating yourself would bring you more harm than good. Well, in the case of Pecola, it seemed that it was brought upon her by her society. In her eyes, she sees people ignoring her, making fun of her, and even hating her because of her color. But then again, Pecola’s eyesight is clouded by her desire to be different, to be white, and to have the bluest eyes.
Instead of being true to herself, she wanted to change everything. For her, it was a means to an end, the only way for her to accept by the people around her. For the author Toni Morrison, it was not. Hating one’s race and color wouldn’t change anything, instead, it would just attract more hatred, more cruelty, and more violence. Pecola shouldn’t have lost sight of the people around her. Not everyone overlooked and hated her. The MacTeer household, especially the children, loved her despite her color.
This is one way for the author to say that color is not everything, and it shouldn’t be the reason for people like Pecola to hate. Works Cited: Kuenz, Jane. "The Bluest Eye: Notes on History, Community, and Black Female Subjectivity " African American Review Vol. 27. No. 3 (1993). Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. , 1993. Wills, Joy. "Genealogy of Rejection in Morrison's the Bluest Eye". 1999. March 23 2009. <http://www. luminarium. org/contemporary/tonimorrison/wills. htm>.
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