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Morrison's Bluest Eye Essay: Conformity

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The Bluest Eye:  Conformity        

The basic theme of the novel, The Bluest Eye revolves around African Americans' conformity to white standards. Although beauty is the larger theme of the novel, Morrison scrutinizes the dominant white culture's influence on class levels. Morrison sets the foundation of the novel on issues of beauty in an attempt to make African Americans aware that they do not have to conform to white standards on any level.

Morrison's main character, Pecola Breedlove, unquestioningly accepts the ideology that white features correlate with beauty. Yet Morrison wrote this novel at the height of the "Black Is Beautiful" era during which African Americans were being reconditioned to believe that their looks are synonymous with beauty.

The novel is a retrospective story told by Claudia, one of Pecola's childhood friends. Claudia's account allows the reader to sympathize with Pecola's self-hatred. As an adult, Claudia best articulates how Pecola's victimization is caused by her environment. Telling the story almost three decades later, during the sixties, Claudia reflects on the pain of wanting to be something you can never become. According to an interview entitled "Toni Morrison's Black Magic" in Newsweek, Morrison states that Pecola's character was formed based on the fact that "Black is beautiful was in the air. . . .So I wrote about a child who was ugly-Pecola is the perfect defeated victim-only she was beautiful" (Strouse 56). Morrison's depiction of a victimized Pecola addresses how the dominance of white consumer society can effect the psyche of a young African American girl.

Morrison writes the novel as a coming of age story about three elementary s...


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...n life, being exposed to nicer lifestyles made them want more for themselves.

The Breedloves all believe they would have attained a higher level of success, if they were born beautiful. Morrison implies that they believe success correlates with beauty. She states "As long as she [Pecola] looked the way she did, as long as she was ugly, she would have to stay with those people" (39). Do white standards of beauty put beautiful people in a higher class status? According to Morrison, the Breedloves attribute their storefront residence to the fact that "they were poor and black, and they stayed there because they believed they were ugly" (34). The Breedloves' mentality is instilled in them by their surroundings. Moving from the south to the north, African Americans' moral values changed from valuing the community and family to fetishizing material possessions.

 


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