The Bluest Eye Essay Research Paper Racism

The Bluest Eye Essay, Research Paper Racism in The Bluest Eye “There is really nothing more to say–except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take

The Bluest Eye Essay, Research Paper

Racism in The Bluest Eye

“There is really nothing more to say–except why.

But since why is difficult to handle, one must take

refuge in how.”

When bad things happen to us, the first thing we

ask ourselves is “why”? Most of the time however, the

answer to “why” is not readily available to us, and

sometimes there is not an answer at all. Racism has

been a concept which has existed from the beginning of

human civilization. For some reason, the “whites”

believed they were superior to everyone who was not

white for a very long time. There has always been a

misconception that racism exists strictly against blacks

from whites. However, Morrison shows the reader every

aspect of racism: whites against blacks, light-skinned

blacks against dark-skinned blacks and blacks who are

well off against poor blacks. The latter two are the

most emphasized and the most prevalent in the novel. In

July’s People, we see the other side of racism,the

opression of whites.

There are many answers to the question “why?” in

this novel. There is not just one answer to which it

all can be narrowed down or traced back. Morrison

attempts to show the reader various catalysts which

explain (or can explain) HOW racism affected the

characters’ lives. Often, there is really not an answer

to “why?”, although at times, the reader may come across

to one of the many answers to this question.

In the beginning of the book, the reader sees how

the blonde-blue-eyed white girl (woman) has always been

the conceptualized ideal. Morrison does not (and

cannot) tell us why this is and has been from the

beginning of time. However, she shows the reader how it

is and to the extent it affects (and has affected)

anyone who does not “fit” the ideal. From the

beginning, the reader sees how Claudia despises this

“ideal” of beauty, knowing neither she, nor any of her

sisters or neighbors could ever live up to. In another

episode in the novel, when Pecola is on her way to buy

her Mary Janes, the reader is able to realize the extent

of the impact this idealization had (and still has) on

African-American as well as many other cultures.

Morrison makes a point to emphasize the fact that this

affected everyone in the novel, whether the character

admired or despised this ideal. Mrs. Breedlove “passed

on” to Pecola the insecurity she had “acquired”

throughout her life. Her insecurity and self-hate had

been in her since her childhood but it was made worse by

her emulating the movie actresses.

The reader first sees Pecola encountered with

racism from a white man with Mr. Yacobowski. She goes to

the store to buy Mary Janes and “He does not see her,

because for him there is nothing to see.” The narrator

emphasizes the fact that “their ugliness was unique.”

She does not state this because it is her opinion, or

anyone else’s for that matter, but because “No one could

have convinced them that they were not relentlessly and

aggressively ugly.” The narrator states that they

(except for Cholly) “wore their ugliness—although it

did not belong to them.” This ugliness had everything

to do with the fact that they were black, especially for

Mrs. Breedlove and Pecola. Mrs. Breedlove wanted to

look like a movie star and Pecola wanted blue eyes, both

cases were unrealistic and since they could not be the

“ideal” beauty, they assumed they were ugly.

Rejection is a by-product of racism. Rejection is

developed in the metaphors that Morrison uses throughout

the novel. The theme of nature recurs in the novel and

it parallels Pecola’s rejection. In the beginning of

the book, Claudia tells the reader that “there were no

marigolds in the fall of 1941.” She does not know why

the marigolds did not bloom, but she can explain what

and how it happened. At this point, the reader gets an

idea that there is going to be a parallel between this

fact and someone’s story throughout the book.

Maureen Peal is an example of a light-skinned,

“pretty,” middle-class girl. Although she is not the

“ideal” beauty in society, in the story, to all the

people in town, she is close to this ideal. In the

description in the novel, she is idealized and in a way

“worshipped” by everyone who knows her. She becomes

everyone’s favorite in the school. Her clothes are

described perfectly and they are flawless, as Maureen

herself (according to the narrator). Claudia says that

Maureen is not their enemy, their enemy is what makes

Maureen cute and the rest of them ugly, that “thing”

that makes her cute.

Although racism is not the main catalyst to

everything bad that happens throughout the novel (it is

more deep-rooted issues in society), plays a key role in

the development of the characters as individuals, as

well as society as a whole. Morrison excels in

describing racism as one of the many issues which can

ruin a person’s self-identity and confidence. Although

she, like anyone else, cannot explain and does not have

an answer as to “why” racism exists, she describes in

detail how it (along with other related factors) can

bring about an individual’s self-distruction.


Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye.