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Morrison's Bluest Eye Essay: Migration

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The Bluest Eye:  Migration       


Morrison depicts a large part of African American culture when she places the characters in an urban area. The change of environment from the north to the south plays a key role in the loss of communal ties. African Americans are extremely affected given that they are displaced and are attempting to conform to northern cultural standards. The emphasis in the north is on material wealth and beauty, whereas the south is more family oriented.

The migration may have displaced many people, however it does provide job opportunities as well as economic gain. Pauline and Cholly were migrants from small rural towns. Upon getting married, Cholly suggested a move "`way up north. . .where steel mills were begging for workers" (92). The surge of industrial workers created a strong working class, allowing African Americans to purchase homes. The open job market made owning property attainable for many African Americans. New wages and job opportunities enhanced the quality of living for the new residents. Purchasing power took on significance in the African American home, and love is replaced with material items.

Love is replaced with gift giving, and the gifts must conform to white ideals. Claudia experiences this phenomenon at Christmas when she receives a "big blue eyed baby doll" (19). Claudia reflects on how she felt about the doll when stating, "I had only one desire: to dismember it. To see what it was made of to discover the dearness, to find the beauty" (20). In Susan Willis' critical essay "I Shop Therefore I Am" she discusses the reasoning behind Claudia's anger towards the doll. Upon receiving the doll, Claudia's main purpose is to discover the rootedness of white domination. The onl...


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...ass citizens in white America, given that they were brought over as slaves.

The enslavement of African Americans by whites severed any cultural ties and dehumanized the slaves. Masters convinced African Americans that they were incapable of culture in order to create a paternal relationship. The loss of identity forced the slaves to act as their masters deemed appropriate. African Americans' migration to the north parralled this concept-they must conform to the standards of white culture that they are trained to obey. Identifying with their own culture in a new environment is difficult, because conformity is essential to fit into white society. The migration from the south to the north changed African American values from community to commodity, destroying cultural ties.

Works Cited:

Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1993.


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