A Search For Identity (The Bluest Eyes) Essay, Research Paper
A Search For A Self
Finding a self-identity is often a sign of maturing and growing up. This becomes the main issue in Toni Morrison s novel The Bluest Eyes. Pecola Breedlove, Cholly Breedlove, and Pauline Breedlove are such characters that search for their identity through others that has influenced them and by the lifestyles that they have. First, Pecola Breedlove struggles to get accepted into society due to the beauty factor that the norm has. Cholly Breedlove, her father, is a drunk who has problems that he takes out of Pecola sexually and Pauline physically. Pauline is Cholly s wife that is never there for her daughters.
Pacola is a little black girl has a hard time finding herself. Brought up as a poor unwanted girl, she desires the acceptance and love of society. The world has led her to believe that she is ugly and that the epitome of “beautiful” requires blue eyes. Every night before she goes to sleep, she prays that may she wake up with blue eyes. The image of “Shirley Temple beauty” surrounds her. In her mind, if she were to be beautiful, people would finally love and accept her. This idea of beauty has been imprinted on Pecola her whole entire life. Many people have inscribed this notion into her. Her classmates also have an effect on her. They seem to think that because she is not beautiful; she is not worth anything except as the focal point of their mockery. As if it were not bad enough being ridiculed by children her own age, adults also had to mock her. Mr. Yacowbski as a symbol for the rest of society’s norm, treats her as if she were invisible. Geraldine, a colored woman, who refused to tolerate “niggers”, happened to walk in while Pecola was in her house. By having an adult point out to her that she really was a “nasty” little girl, it seems all the more true. At home she was put through the same thing, if not worse because her family members were the ones who were supposed to love her. It was obvious to Pecola that her mother preferred the little white girl of the family that she worked for over her. One day as Pecola was visiting her mother at the home where she is working, Pecola accidentally knocked over a blueberry pie. Obviously burned by the hot pastry, her mother completely ignored Pecola’s feelings of pain and instead tended to the comforting of her white “daughter”. For a little girl, the love of her mother is the most important love she can receive. Without that, how can she think that she is worth anything at all? Finally the rape by her father is the last evidence Pecola needs to believe completely that she is an ugly unlovable girl. While in most cases a father figure is one who little girls look to for guidance and approval, Cholly is the exact opposite. He hurts Pecola in a physical way that in one attempt measures up to the years of hurtful mockery. After this event, Pecola went insane, forever stopping her from finding what she really is.
Cholly Breedlove the father of Pecola is an alcoholic bastard. He was born to an unwed mother that abandoned him three days after his birth; and his father ran away once he was born. This eventually is the main cause why he had acted like he acted towards his family and especially towards Pecola. After his legal guardian, his aunt, dies, Cholly decided that as an inner mission he needs to find his father to find himself. This long search ends in an extremely disappointing – crushing- experience. As Cholly tries to explain his identity to his father, his (father’s) face changes as he begins to understand, avoiding the fact that he is Cholly s biological father. This extremely embarrassing encounter with his father scars him for life. His only image of a father figure is one who brings pain. Another cause of his eventual downfall was the way the community perceived him. They treated him disrespectfully, talked about him behind his back, and made a mockery of his name. After Cholly attempts to burn his own house down, he earns a reputation as being a scoundrel. With that in mind he could go nowhere but down. His finality occurs simultaneously with the rape of Pecola. He had not imagined that he had did this to this very own daughter. His search for himself ended in destruction.
Pauline Breedlove, wife of Cholly, mother of Pecola, is a servant in a white household. The times she was there working for this family without any reminder of her own failures were the only times that she felt truly happy. It was there and only there that she finally felt as if she were part of something successful. In Pauline’s search for her identity and ultimately her happiness, she learned exactly what she would have to sacrifice so that she could be content, as well as the difference between herself and the rest of society. Movies helped her the stark difference between her and other women. As Pauline learned what physical beauty was, she also learned for what it stood. In that time physical beauty was the ideal of Shirley Temple beauty, the equation of blond hair and blue eyes. It signified equality, happiness, worthiness, and overall comfort. If you were a white woman with those qualities living in northern America you were going to be happy. She quickly learned that when she was in the company of her white family, who were equal, happy, and worthy in the eyes of society, it rubbed off on her and she felt as if she was part of all these positive virtues. The more time she spent with her own black family, the more time she realized how ugly, poor, and unworthy they were. In coming upon this realization, Pauline has a decision to make. She could have stuck with her biological family, continued to be unsatisfied but be accepted as an equal, or she could completely give up on her own family and devote all her time, energy, and love on her white charges. However she fails to realize that by committing herself to a servant’s life that’s all she will ever amount to be – a black servant in a white world.
Pecola’s search for identity was defined by her everlasting desire to be loved. Her purpose in life was to be beautiful and as a result of that to be loved. Her family and community made it impossible for her to ever be sanely content. Cholly’s family (or lack thereof) and his community as a boy ultimately influenced the way he was as a man. Their effects on him molded his personality and as a result influenced his identity. Pauline s confusion whether to love her family or the white family that she works for leads her to not caring that much at all. She realizes that whoever she ends up living with will not change who she really is.