One of the most prominent themes found in Toni Morrison’s acutely tragic novel The Bluest Eye is the transferal or redirection of emotions in an effort on the part of the characters to make pain bearable. The most obvious manifestation of that is the existence of race hatred for one’s own race that pervades the story; nearly every character that the narrator spends time with feels at some point a self-loathing as a result of the racism present in 1941 American society. The characters, particularly the adults, have become bitter and hate themselves because of the powerlessness they feel in the situation. They transfer the anger and hatred onto themselves, or at times the others around them, because they must let their emotions out in some way in order to make the pain manageable. Morrison conveys this message even more profoundly with smaller, isolated incidents that illustrate how people redirect and transfer their emotions, and one of the most beautiful and memorable of theses moments is the scene in which Pecola buys candy at a food store.
The scene opens with Pecola walking down the street observing familiar inanimate objects, notably the sidewalk and dandelions growing at the bottom of a telephone pole. She wonders why adults dislike dandelions and “call them weeds” when she views them simply as flowers that are pretty (pg 47). Here Morrison is obviously drawing a parallel between the arbitrary label of an “ugly weed” versus a “flower” and the irrationality of racism. The aversion to dandelions is a social construction in the same way that racial differences are. This analogy also echoes the references to the ugliness of black people as opposed to whites that appear in so many plac...
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... Toni Morrison uses the dandelion scene to show an emotional transformation process that both reflects the larger themes of the book and mimics on a miniature level the outcome of the story. The themes of the waning innocence of the children’s perception of their race, the irrationality of racial beauty or ugliness, and the use of anger as a defensive tool are all chronicled in Pecola’s relationship with the dandelions and her shifting emotional channels. The parallel with the ending of the book when Pecola goes mad from a lack of an effective emotional outlet for her strife provides the opportunity both for foreshadowing the outcome and for reinforcing the power of the previously stated themes. This scene is one of the most powerful of The Bluest Eye, and Toni Morrison is successful in using it as an embodiment of both the plot and the moral messages of the novel.
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