Self-Hate in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye Essay

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At a time when blue-eyed, pale skin Shirley Temple is idolized by white and black alike,
eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove desperately seeks out beauty for herself. In order to attain
beauty in her culture, Pecola must do the impossible: find white beauty. Toni Morrison shows
the disastrous effects that colorism and racism can have on a whole culture and how African-
Americans will tear each other apart in order to fit into the graces of white society. The desire to
be considered beautiful in the white world is so compelling, that the characters in The Bluest Eye
loathe their own skin color and feel shame for their culture. These feelings of self-loathing and
contempt pass on from the adults to their children, creating a continuous cycle of negativity and

“Here was an ugly little black girl asking for beauty…A little black girl who wanted to
rise up out of the pit of her blackness and see the world with blue eyes” (Morrison, 174). By
petitioning for white beauty, Pecola Breedlove is desperately attempting to pull herself out of the
pit of blackness. Because Pecola has dark-skin and authentic African-American features, black
and white society has conditioned her to believe that she is ugly. Pecola.s physical features
ensure her to be a victim of classical racism; classical racism being the notion that the “physical
ugliness of blackness is a sign of a deeper ugliness and depravity” (Taylor, 16). This notion
allows the mistreatment of dark-skinned people because their blackness is a link to a “dark past”
and to uncivilized ways. Pecola does not epitomize white society.s standards of beauty because
she does not have light skin and trademark blue eyes; therefore, she must be ugly and ba...

... middle of paper ...

...Melus: 19.4 (1994): 109-127. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO.
Web. 24 March 2014.

Lobodziec, Agnieszka. “Theological Models of Black Middle-Class Performance in Toni
Morrison.s Novels.” Black Theology: An International Journal 8.1 (2010): 32-52. Academic
Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 24 March 2014.

McKittrick, Katherine. “Black and „Cause I.m Black I.m Blue.: transverse racial geographies in
Toni Morrison.s The Bluest Eye.” Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist
Geography 7.2 (2000): 125. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 24 March 2014.

Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. New York: Penguin, 1970. Print.

Taylor, Paul C. “Malcom.s Conk and Danto.s Colors; or Four Logical Petitions Concerning
Race, Beauty, and Aesthetics.” Journal of Aesthetics & Art Criticism 57.1 (2000): 16-20.
Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 23 March 2014.

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