Ownership, class structures, and consumerism go hand in hand. Morrison illustrates this throughout the novel and in the characters' identities. Many of the characters identify themselves based on material possessions: the simple ownership of a car, the use of consumer products, and property ownership. Although African Americans may take these things for granted now, in the early 1900's this would be considered a major accomplishment.
There is an apparent contradiction of class status among the characters illustrating how beauty determines social stratification. Morrison places each person in the class hierarchy based on how close they are to the white standard of beauty. The Fishers, the white family Pauline is employed by, are at the top of the class stratification. The only upper middle class family is white and they are the ultimate model of the blonde and blue eyed standard.
Rosemary, whom the girls also have a tinge of jealousy for, is on the same class level as Frieda and Claudia, except that her Italian features classify her as white. Rosemary's phenotype is white yet she is also a minority. In the opening scene of the novel she is "sitting in a 1939 Buick eating bread and butter." Claudia and Frieda are characterized as envious:
We stare at her, wanting her bread, but more
than that wanting to poke the arrogance out
of her eyes and smash the pride of ownership
that curls her chewing mouth. (12)
Morrison opens the novel with a feeling of envy, because she is depicting how consumerism and ownership evoke competition. Each character wants to be superior to the others. Rosemary views herself as better than the African American girls because bla...
... middle of paper ...
... Bluest Eye (New York: Washington Press, 1970).
Susan Willis, "I Shop Therefore I Am: Is There a Place for Afro-American Culture in Commodity Culture?" in Changing Our Own Words: Essays on Criticsm, Theory and Writing by Black Women, ed. Charyl A. Wall (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1989): 173-95.
Elizabeth House, "Artist and the Art of Living: Order and Disorder in Toni Morrison's Fiction," Modern Fiction Studies 34(1998):27-44.
Bessie W. Jones, "An Interiew with Toni Morrison," in The World of Toni Morrision, ed. Bessie Jones and Audrey Vinson (Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall Hunt, 1985).
Robert Stepto, " `Intimate Things in a Place': A Conversation with Toni Morrison," in Chant of Saints: A Gathering of Afro-American Literature, Art, and Scholarship, ed. Michael S. Harper and Robert B. Stepto (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1979).
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- “The Bluest Eye” is taking place around 1940 in Lorain, Ohio. During the year of 1940, discrimination, especially toward African Americans, was still a serious problem. People believe that whiteness is the standard of beauty. The main character, Pecola, who was a nine-years-old African-American, was influenced by how people view beauty. Pecola suffered and felt that she is inferior to others. Pecola believed that having a pair of blue eyes would made people think she is pretty, and would be the key resolving all the problems.... [tags: The Bluest Eye]
645 words (1.8 pages)
- The Bluest Eye and the Contemporary American Novel There are an infinite number of possible ways to study the development of the American novel. In doing so you invariably have to read a good number of books by American authors. The problem is you can't just walk into the bookstore and pick a few writers, read their novels, and think you understand the way the American novel came about. You have to follow certain guidelines, and read from different time periods to further your understanding.... [tags: Bluest Eye Essays]
495 words (1.4 pages)
- The Clear Message of The Bluest Eye The Bluest Eye fits into our study of the American novel because it tells the story of a group of Americans, men and women and children who are descendants of slaves, and live in a society where, even though many people deny it, the color of your skin determines who you are and what privileges you are entitled to. I think that Morrison does a wonderful job of telling a story that is real, that makes the reader feel something, and that makes the reader relate, regardless of your skin color.... [tags: Bluest Eye Essays]
430 words (1.2 pages)
- The Bluest Eye There are many themes that seem to run throughout this story. Each theme and conflict seems to always involve the character of Pecola Breedlove. There is the theme of finding an identity. There is also the theme of Pecola as a victim. Of all the characters in the story we can definitely sympathize with Pecola because of the many harsh circumstances she has had to go through in her lifetime. Perhaps her rape was the most tragic and dramatic experience Pecola had experiences, but nonetheless she continued her life.... [tags: Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye]
1195 words (3.4 pages)
- The Bluest Eye abd the development of the American Novel In The Bluest Eye, Morrison describes the absurd and racist standard by which the characters are judged. And through the actions taken by each character, that absurd standard becomes more defined, the conflict more poignant. In this particular work, it is the American ideal of beauty that makes Pecola resign her self-image as ugly and it is Pecola's reaction to this standard, her futile wish to become beautiful, that drives her into madness and thus completely exposes the absurd and wrongful nature of this standard.... [tags: Bluest Eye Essays]
409 words (1.2 pages)
- Toni Morisson's The Bluest Eye Toni Morisson's novel The Bluest Eye is about the life of the Breedlove family who reside in Lorain, Ohio, in the late 1930s (where Morrison herself was born). This family consists of the mother Pauline, the father Cholly, the son Sammy, and the daughter Pecola. The novel's focal point is the daughter, an eleven-year-old Black girl who is trying to conquer a bout with self-hatred. Everyday she encounters racism, not just from the White people, but mostly from her own race.... [tags: Toni Morisson Bluest Eye Essays]
921 words (2.6 pages)
- Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye 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.... [tags: Toni Morrison Bluest Eye Essays]
1449 words (4.1 pages)
- Enlightened by Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye Over the course of our study of the American novel, we have experienced a kaleidoscope of components that help define it. We traveled back in time to learn what kinds of novels were being written and how they were being written. We were introduced to the likes of Harold Frederic's Theron Ware, Henry James's Dr. Sloper and Catherine, and Nathaniel Hawthorne's Blithedale Romance. We saw, through these novels and characters, how literature of the past affects literature of today.... [tags: Bluest Eye Essays]
506 words (1.4 pages)
- Both Toni Morrison's novel about an African American family in Ohio during the 1930s and 1940s, The Bluest Eye and Louise Erdrich;s novel about the Anishinabe tribe in the 1920s in North Dakota, Tracks are, in part, about seeing. Both novels examine the effects of a kind of seeing that is refracted through the lens of racism by subjects of racism themselves. Erdrich's Pauline Puyat and Morrison's Pecola Breedlove are crazy from their dealings with racism and themselves suffer from an internalized racism that is upheld and maintained by social and cultural structures within which they live.... [tags: Bluest Eye Essays]
599 words (1.7 pages)
- Abuse in The Bluest Eye The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, is about an eleven year old girl, Pecola, who is abused by almost everyone in her life. Every day she encounters racism, not just from the white people, but also from the African American people. In her eyes, her skin is too dark, and the color of her skin makes her inferior to everyone else. The color of her skin makes her think that she is ugly. She feels that she can overcome this if she can get blue eyes. Pecola thinks that if she can be like the blue eyed Shirley Temple, everyone will love her.... [tags: Bluest Eye Essays]
840 words (2.4 pages)