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The Bluest Eye
Transcript of The Bluest Eye
Racism and Powerlessness
In the Bluest Eye you can see that beauty is strongly associated with whiteness and white like features.
People that were idolized in the book where mostly white such as Shirley Temple.
Blacks were greatly inspired to be close to the white side back in the 1940's because whites were considered "higher up" on the pole.
The black women in the novel grew up in a society that never looked at them as beautiful or "good-looking".
Pecola is known for her ugliness, that's why she fixates on blue eyes which is a symbol of beauty in society (whites/lighter skin).
Low self-esteem and envy of whiteness are two big reasons why Pecola thinks that the blue eyes will make her beautiful.
In the novel, appearance was big to African Americans. That’s why a lot of the young girls had low self-esteem or little self-respect. Here are two quotes that show how whiteness is wanted more. Pecola internalizes the fact that beauty is not black, she is not the image of beauty and it's because that's what society publicizes.
Adults, older girls, shops, magazines, newspapers, window signs – all the world had agreed that a blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl child treasured. (1.1.39)
It had occurred to Pecola some time ago that if her eyes...were different, that is to say, beautiful, she herself would be different." (1.3.18)
This picture symbolizes Pecola and race. Unlike the narrator, Pecola possesses over whiteness and blue eyes. As she feels how ugly she is, she brings this obsession of having these eyes and starts to believe she has them, and like the mask over her face, now she thinks everyone is jealous of her.
In the aspect of race, one major part that is in the book is how Soaphead Church family only marries "lighter skin" and if they cant find one, they marry family. Which shows how strong white race truly had an affect on black society.
Also, how whites embarrassed Cholly for having sex , yet Cholly didn't get mad at the whites because he is socially inferior to them, he turned it to violence on the women in his family.
Even though this book is based on the 1940s, some things never change. For instance, Hollister, Nc. A small town who is known for it's population of "Light-skinned complexions", incest, and marriage in the family to other light-skins. This town may or may not be an example of internalized oppression.
His mother did not like him to play with niggers. She had explained to him the difference between colored people and niggers. They were easily identifiable. Colored people were neat and quiet; niggers were dirty and loud. (2.5.14)
Another example is how the generation today, it's all about light skin vs dark skin. Who is better, who has more benefits and how much more are they liked.
Pecola idolized Shirley Temple so much and Shirley's appearance.
The narrator receives a doll baby as a present, and it characterized the whole "females play with dolls, and are all about glamor and beauty".
In the time period of the novel, just as we learned in the beginning of feminism, women were brought up to get married and have kids, sell their selves, or work for white people.
Adults, older girls, shops, magazines, newspapers, window signs – 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.' (1.1.38)
Not only does this quote bring up feminism, but also how blacks idealize whites
Innocence is questioned in this novel. Who is given innocence and who has to earn it ? Since we know that this book is surrounded by racism, we know that with whiteness comes innocence. Blacks have to earn it. Or do they ever earn it ? Pecola had innocence, that quickly went away after her father raped her.
While he moves inside her, she will wonder why they didn't put the necessary but private parts of the body in some more convenient place – like the armpit, for example, or the palm of the hand. Someplace one could get to easily, and quickly, without undressing. (2.5.7)
Just like in the quote when the woman is describing the difference between coloreds and niggers, these people who have lighter skin, or work for the whites feel as if they are higher class than those who don't work for the whites or have darker skin. As in the closer you are to whites, the easier you life will be.
She was rich, at least by our standards, as rich as the richest of white girls, swaddled in comfort and care. The quality of her clothes threatened to derange Frieda and me. (2.4.3)
This describes racial oppression
Exploitation in this book is how the three women that the young girls like to engage conversation with are prostitutes, and exploit their selves to get to the top. They exploit their bodies to get whatever they want.
The characters in the novel are not only sexually exploited but emotionally abused as well. Take Pecola for instance. Her body was exploited once her period came on and when her father decided to rape her. Cholly raped her, taking out anger from when he was exploited when losing his virginity.
Pecola was marginalized as a person. She was a girl with low self esteem and someone who was poor and ugly. Even though people say her whole family knew they were ugly, Pecola marginalized herself from every one else as well. To feel like part of society , the only thing she could do was pray for blue eyes, so instead of her feeling like it was everyone else and then Pecola, it would be Pecola and then every one else.
The society is marginalized by the people living in poverty such as Pecola was and then the people living in Lorain. They are separated by basically upper class (whites) and lower class (blacks). That is why the kids admire the women who are from Lorain.
Not only Pecola but Claudia as well were very powerless. They were powerless because they were female. This was in a time that blacks really didn't have any say. What makes it worse is that she is a child, where children spoke when spoken to and that's all. And being a black female in poverty. She came into this world powerless just as most black females did.
Every powerless black female, bounded by the levels of society
The Breedlove family is the ultimate example of violence. Starting with the father. After the father was exploited as he lost his virginity, he placed his hate onto his family and became an abusive alcoholic. It was like a routine for the parents to fight. Then for the father to rape his daughter and trying to burn down the house. Prime example of abuse and violence.
Pecola has plenty of internalized oppression, believing that she is ugly because thats what everyone else thinks she is and going to extreme measures to make herself pretty by believing she has "blue eyes".
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