Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye provides social commentary on a lesser known portion of black society in America. The protagonist Pecola is a young black girl who desperately wants to feel beautiful and gain the “bluest eyes” as the title references. The book seeks to define beauty and love in this twisted perverse society, dragging the reader through Morrison’s emotional manipulations. Her father Cholly Breedlove steals the reader’s emotional attention from Pecola as he enters the story. In fact, Toni Morrison’s depiction of Cholly wrongfully evokes sympathy from the reader.
The sympathy for Cholly evoked in The Bluest Eye from the reader is not deserved. By definition, sympathy means feeling pity or sorrow for the distress of another, or compassion. The skillfulness of the author manipulates the reader into feeling a certain way towards particular characters. Sympathy for characters – Cholly being no exception – derives from an author’s ability to use words and the construction of the story to lead a reader into a certain emotional direction. The reader is the prime reason the author constructs a story. Because all authors are completely aware that an audience exists for their stories, authors are, in turn, completely aware that their words can manipulate their readers. It is this awareness that allows all sentence structures and idea portrayal to be the product of an author’s manipulation. Because there exists an audience, there exists someone to persuade or influence. Thus, an author, like Morrison, builds a textual relationship between the characters in her story and that of the reader digesting her story. Morrison, like all authors, understands that the reader searches for a...
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...ror of Pecola’s first sexual experience: her father rapes her), and a difficult marriage situation (caused by his own drunkenness). The “bads” certainly outweigh the “goods” in his situation. Thus, the reader ought not to feel sympathy for Cholly. But, Morrison presents information about Cholly in such a way that mandates sympathy from her reader. This depiction of Cholly as a man of freedom and the victim of awful happenings is wrong because it evokes sympathy for a man who does not deserve it. He deserves the reader’s hate, but Morrison prevents Cholly covered with a blanket of undeserved, inescapable sympathy. Morrison creates undeserved sympathy from the reader using language and her depiction of Cholly acting within the bounds of his character. This ultimately generates a reader who becomes soft on crime and led by emotions manipulated by the authority of text.
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