The Bluest Eye

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Racism in The Bluest Eye “There is really nothing more to say--except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how.” When bad things happen to us, the first thing we ask ourselves is “why”? Most of the time however, the answer to “why” is not readily available to us, and sometimes there is not an answer at all. Racism has been a concept which has existed from the beginning of human civilization. For some reason, the “whites” believed they were superior to everyone who was not white for a very long time. There has always been a misconception that racism exists strictly against blacks from whites. However, Morrison shows the reader every aspect of racism: whites against blacks, light-skinned blacks against dark-skinned blacks and blacks who are well off against poor blacks. The latter two are the most emphasized and the most prevalent in the novel. In July’s People, we see the other side of racism,the opression of whites. There are many answers to the question “why?” in this novel. There is not just one answer to which it all can be narrowed down or traced back. Morrison attempts to show the reader various catalysts which explain (or can explain) HOW racism affected the characters’ lives. Often, there is really not an answer to “why?”, although at times, the reader may come across to one of the many answers to this question. In the beginning of the book, the reader sees how the blonde-blue-eyed white girl (woman) has always been the conceptualized ideal. Morrison does not (and cannot) tell us why this is and has been from the beginning of time. However, she shows the reader how it is and to the extent it affects (and has affected) anyone who does not “fit” the ideal. From the beginning, the reader sees how Claudia despises this “ideal” of beauty, knowing neither she, nor any of her sisters or neighbors could ever live up to. In another episode in the novel, when Pecola is on her way to buy her Mary Janes, the reader is able to realize the extent of the impact this idealization had (and still has) on African-American as well as many other cultures. Morrison makes a point to emphasize the fact that this affected everyone in the novel, whether the character admired or despised this ideal. Mrs. Breedlove “passed on” to Pecola the insecurity she had “acquired” throughout her life. Her insecurity and self-hate had been in her since her childhood but it was made worse by her emulating the movie actresses. The reader first sees Pecola encountered with racism from a white man with Mr. Yacobowski. She goes to the store to buy Mary Janes and “He does not see her, because for him there is nothing to see.” The narrator emphasizes the fact that “their ugliness was unique.” She does not state this because it is her opinion, or anyone else’s for that matter, but because “No one could have convinced them that they were not relentlessly and aggressively ugly.” The narrator states that they (except for Cholly) “wore their ugliness---although it did not belong to them.” This ugliness had everything to do with the fact that they were black, especially for Mrs. Breedlove and Pecola. Mrs. Breedlove wanted to look like a movie star and Pecola wanted blue eyes, both cases were unrealistic and since they could not be the “ideal” beauty, they assumed they were ugly. Rejection is a by-product of racism. Rejection is developed in the metaphors that Morrison uses throughout the novel. The theme of nature recurs in the novel and it parallels Pecola’s rejection. In the beginning of the book, Claudia tells the reader that “there were no marigolds in the fall of 1941.” She does not know why the marigolds did not bloom, but she can explain what and how it happened. At this point, the reader gets an idea that there is going to be a parallel between this fact and someone’s story throughout the book. Maureen Peal is an example of a light-skinned, “pretty,” middle-class girl. Although she is not the “ideal” beauty in society, in the story, to all the people in town, she is close to this ideal. In the description in the novel, she is idealized and in a way 

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