The Bluest Eye

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Throughout Toni Morrison’s controversial debut The Bluest Eye, several characters are entangled with the extremes of human cruelty and desire. A once innocent Pecola arguably receives the most appalling treatment, as not only is she exposed to unrelenting racism and severe domestic abuse, she is also raped and impregnated by her own father, Cholly. By all accounts, Cholly should be detestable and unworthy of any kind of sympathy. However, over the course of the novel, as Cholly’s character and life are slowly brought into the light and out of the self-hatred veil, the reader comes to partially understand why Cholly did what he did and what really drives him. By painting this severely flawed yet completely human picture of Cholly, Morrison draws comparison with how Pecola was treated by both of her undesirable parents. According to literary educator Allen Alexander, even though Cholly was cripplingly flawed and often despicable, he was a more “genuine” person to Pecola than Pauline was (301). Alexander went on to claim that while Cholly raped Pecola physically, Pauline and Soaphead Church both raped her mental wellbeing (301). Alexander is saying that the awful way Pecola was treated in a routine matter had an effect just as great if not greater than Cholly’s terrible assault. The abuse that Pecola lived through was the trigger that shattered her mind. In The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison uses the characters of Cholly Breedlove and Frieda McTeer to juxtapose sexual violence and mental maltreatment in order to highlight the terrible effects of mental abuse.
Two of the major instances of sexual abuse present in the novel involved both Mr. Henry with Frieda and Cholly with Pecola. The incident with Mr. Henry, while very serious...

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...lect, can have a momentous impact on an individual, like it did with both Cholly and Junior. She did not dismiss the notion that sexual abuse is and can be extremely damaging, but she did want to point out how abuse that wears away at one’s mind can be worse in certain situations. Morrison did not offer answers to this issue of abuse to one’s mind, but rather she wanted to make people think about how they perceive these two forms of mistreatment. Morrison wanted to raise awareness on why psychological harm should be viewed as just as damaging as some of the other disparaging treatments towards children.

Works Cited

Alexander, Allen. “The Image of God in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye.” African American
Review 32.2 (1998): 293-303. JSTOR. Web. 11 April 2012.
Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. 1970. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Print.

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