Toni Morrison: the Bluest Eye

Toni Morrison: The Bluest Eye

4.) Compare Pecola’s character to Claudia’s. Which of these two characters is better able to reject white, middle-class America’s definition of beauty? Support your answer with examples from the text.

The novel The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison portrays the tragedy that results when blacks succumb to the standards exposed to them by the white society who belittles them. In this case, it is the idea of whiteness as the standard of beauty.   She shows this through two little black girls in the 1940s, Pecola Breedlove and Claudia MacTeer, who both live in the same society. What makes them different from each other is the way they feel and respond to the black community who loathes itself for its blackness and therefore, ugliness.

Pecola, the protagonist, is brought up in a family of abuse and violence. Her father, Cholly, is an alcoholic father, and her mother, Pauline, is also convinced white beauty brings happiness. Having witnessed countless vicious fights of her parents, Pecola wants to disappear. Outside her family life, she experiences humiliation which is one of the major causes of her emotional paralysis. Pecola lived life with teachers who “never tried to glance at her” (p.34), and classmates who intimidate her. Furthermore, Pecola is demonized by the grocery seller, Mr. Yacobowski when she buys Mary Jane candy. The white, blued-eyed man furthermore confirms her ugliness when he looks right through her described as “the glazed separateness”, (p.36) and reluctantly touches her palm for the pennies. Consequently, this systematic and continuous way of demonizing and hatred of white people towards her black skin amplifies the contempt she has for herself. For this reason, she finds the only way to receive love and approval from others is to be white and beautiful. Pecola undertakes a blind pursuit of beauty as she takes every chance to drink milk out of her Shirley Temple cup thinking milk will make her whiter, and to be...