Toni Morrison`S The Bluest Eye Essay, Research Paper
Black Beauty and The Ugly Duckling
Some people will argue with you that there is always an ugly duckling somewhere in a family. I see it different, I see these people as unique. In Toni Morrison’s book, The Bluest Eye there is the issue of being beautiful and ugly. In this essay I will discuss how Toni Morrison book The Bluest Eye initiates that during 1941 white was beautiful and black was ugly in the surrounding of two families.
The issue of beauty versus ugliness is portraying through out this book. I found nine different segments of beauty in Toni Morris’s book The Bluest Eye. The first part of beauty that’s reflected in Morrison’s book, is when Claudia is constantly faced with the society’s views of beauty. The societies ideal beauty is being white. Claudia one year for Christmas gets a “blue-eyed, blond-haired, pink skinned doll”(21), and rather than adoring this doll, she destroys and dismembers it because of her anger. Claudia feels she can not measure up to the beauty of white children, because her mom makes the comment “‘Here,’ ‘this [doll] is beautiful’”(21), and this makes Claudia feel ugly. The Breedloves are a poor and ugly family. At least that is how they think the world views them. Morrison stated very clearly that “their ugliness was unique”(38). Their beliefs that they are ugly come from white Americans portraying that whites are the representations of what is beautiful. The white people “wondered why they were so ugly[.]” However, ” [they] looked closely and could not find the source[.]” After a while of always hearing that they the Breedlove family was ugly, they finally said, “you are right” (39).
Pecola at one point wishes that she had blue eyes. Pecola states that if she had blue eyes that maybe Cholly and Mrs. Breedlove would say “why, look at pretty-eyed Pecola. We mustn’t do bad things in front of those pretty eyes” (46). Pecola thought if only her eyes were blue, then her problems according to white American standards would go away, and therefore she would be beautiful and her life would be beautiful.
For one year, Pecola prays that her eyes will turn blue. Being a black little girl in a society that idolizes blonde-haired blue-eyed beauty, Pecola thinks she is ugly. Pecola stares into the mirror trying to find exactly were the ugliness comes from. She sympathizes for the dandelions because she knows what it is like to disliked. Pecola states that “they are ugly[,] [because] they are weeds” (50). She finds beauty in the weeds, because she thinks that people see her as a weed. A new little girl, named Maureen Peal, comes to Claudia and Frieda’s school. Maureen is popular for her looks, which people see as beautiful. She has lighter skin and eyes than most of the other children, and everyone adores her because of this. She is looked upon as beautiful because her characteristics are somewhat more “white” than other black people’s. This causes many to be jealous of her. However, Claudia and Frieda are not jealous. They see through the standards placed on beauty, and if Maureen is what is beautiful, this means that they are not beautiful according to society.
When the girls are walking home from getting ice cream after school, they pass a movie theater with a picture of Betty Grable on the building. Maureen and Pecola both say that they love Betty Grable, an icon for white American beauty with her blonde hair and blue eyes. However, showing her dislike for such standards beauty, Claudia says that she prefers ” Hedy Lamarr,”(69) who has dark hair.
In her younger years, Pauline Breedlove occupied herself by going to the movies. It was here that she got her first glimpse into what idealized beauty was. She saw the Hollywood blonde-haired, blue-eyed bombshells as being true representations of beauty. In addition, anything that strayed from these looks, including her own, was seen as not pretty. American society placed their standards of beauty onto the world, and because of this, many people began to realize how far away they were from these American standards of beauty.
Pecola goes to visit Soaphead Church with the hope that he will be able to fulfill her wish to have blue eyes. She thinks that with blue eyes, all of her problems will disappear and the world will love her because she will be beautiful. The world, seen through blue eyes, will also appear beautiful to Pecola. “Soaphead thought it was at once the fantastic and most logical petition he had ever received. Here was an ugly girl asking for beauty. A surge of love and understanding swept through him, but was quickly replaced with anger”(174).
At the end of Morrison’s novel, Claudia prays that Pecola’s baby will survive. She needs the baby to live to counteract society’s standards set on beauty, which say that blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girls are all that is pretty. Claudia hopes that with this new black baby people will change and see blackness as something that can be admired and something that is beautiful.