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The Bluest Eye - Learning to Hate
Many American's today are not satisfied with their physical appearance. They do not feel that they are as beautiful as the women on television or in magazines. The media is brainwashing American females that if they are not slim and have blonde hair and blue eyes, they are not beautiful. This causes women not only to hate the ideal females, but also hate themselves. In Toni Morrison's novel The Bluest Eye two of her main characters, Claudia and Pecola show hatred toward others, and themselves because they are not as beautiful as the supreme females.
Claudia's hatred starts at the beginning of the novel when she and her sister are staring at Rosemary Villanucci. Rosemary has what Claudia and Frieda want. They want the things that white people have. "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."(Morrison, p.9) Claudia and Frieda hate Rosemary because she has all of the things that Claudia and Frieda will never have or be, particularly Rosemary's white skin. This forces a feeling of self-hatred for being black upon the girls.
You can see Claudia's hatred again when she receives a white baby doll for Christmas. Instead of adoring and cradling the new gift, as most other children would have done, she mutilated and destroyed the doll. "Adults, older girls, shops, magazines, newspapers, window sign - all the world had agreed that a blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl child treasured. `Here,' they said, 'this is beautiful, and if you are on this day `worthy' you may have it.'" (Morrison p. 20-21) She hated the doll's blonde hair and blue eyes staring back at her, reminding her of how different she looked from the doll. She knew that she was wrong for destroying the doll, but she could not refrain herself from doing it. The doll, symbolized the perfect girl, and she knew she was very far from looking like her. In Emily Prager's essay "Our Barbies, Ourselves", she "reveals the damaging effect of a doll that establishes such an impossible standard of physical perfection for little girls.
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Pecola showed her hatred in a different way. Instead of hating people that were beautiful like Claudia did, she hated herself for not being the ideal woman. Sammy her brother, often ran away from the house because of their parents' fighting. Pecola wondered why he never took her with him. The idea that blue eyes are a necessity for beauty had been imprinted on Pecola her whole life. "If she looked different, beautiful, maybe Cholly would be different, and Mrs. Breedlove too. Maybe they'd say, `Why, look at pretty-eyed Pecola. We mustn't do bad things in front of those pretty eyes'" (Morrison p.46). She thought that maybe if she were prettier, and if she had blue eyes, then things would be different and her problems would all go away. She dreamed of being good-looking and having blue eyes, hoping that this will gain her society's respect and not force her to live her life in shame. If she was pretty, she believed that she will be loved, especially by her own family. She would see herself as beautiful, instead of the ugly little girl she is disgusted with. "Long hours she sat looking in the mirror, trying to discover the secret of the ugliness, the ugliness that made her ignored or despised at school, by teachers and classmates alike." (Morrison, p. 45)
Pecola idolized gorgeous white girls and hoped someday to become like them. One person she really wanted to be like was Shirley Temple because of her blonde hair and blue eyes. When Pecola moves in with Claudia, she finds a Shirley Temple mug. She begins to drink milk out of it at every opportunity she gets, hoping that it will make her beautiful and make her look like the girl she sees in front of her, even if it meant drinking three quarts of milk in a day. Also, the fact that she is drinking milk shows how Pecola hopes that it will change her looks, because the milk is white, and her skin is black. Another person she envied was Maureen Peal. Maureen is a girl who is in the same grade as Pecola, but the two girls are treated very differently. While Pecola is rejected by society, Maureen is adored. She has lighter skin than most blacks, has green eyes, and wears her hair in thick braids. She wears nice clothes and new green socks with a white stripe. She seems to be perfect in comparison to Pecola. Pecola wears old clothes and shabby brown socks, belongs to a poor family, is ugly and has dark brown eyes, and is most definitely not adored by anyone. Maureen became a symbol of beauty to Pecola, comparable to Shirley Temple.
In this book Toni Morrison speaks to both whites and blacks. She is trying to show how a racist social system wears down the minds and souls of people. She is also showing how dominate images of good-looking white people with blonde hair, blue eyes and wonderful lives show young children that to be white means to be successful and happy. This causes many young black children to look around at their own lives of poverty and learn to hate their black heritage like Pecola did. Not only black children are affected, but many people from all ethnicities are facing these problems. Because they are not beautiful, they are trying every way to become better looking then they are. Some people are getting many plastic surgeries done, while others go to the extreme of starving themselves to become thin. People need realize that the inner beauty is what counts rather then the outer beauty. Ultimately, this novel reveals the insecurities about beauty found in everyone; not just young black girls like Pecola.