Bluest Eye Toni Morrison, the 1993 Nobel Term Paper

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¶ … Bluest Eye

Toni Morrison, the 1993 Nobel Laureate, has always been a champion of African-American rights and like some other famous black writers in the field of literature; she too based her writings on personal experiences and observations. In most of her novels, the writer has tried to highlight the plight of black Americans in the days of her childhood when racial segregation and discrimination were intense and devastating. In 'The Bluest eye', which was her first novel, the writer has addressed many important issues, some of which are still valid today. Apart from racial discrimination and hatred, the writer has delved deeper into other subjects too including meaning of beauty and the role of black community in its inferior status.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Bluest Eye Toni Morrison, the 1993 Nobel Assignment

The Bluest eye' was Toni Morrison's first novel and with that she firmly established her name in the field of literature and went on to win the most coveted prize in 1993 for her contribution to her chosen area of creative expression. Though we can admire Morrison for her writing skills, her strong and absorbing story lines and her ability to tell the stories in rhythmic manner still most literary critics are of the view that author is too obsessed with plight and suffering of her community and this makes her books often very distressing and disturbing. We need to understand how far this criticism is valid. It is true that the bluest eye would leave readers with a sense of deep sorrow and pain and in some cases can have a negative influence on the mind. But is that exactly something to be made a target of criticism? Probably not. Morrison's pre-occupation with the subject of racial discrimination and hatred has more to do with her own traumatic life experiences than anything else. It is indeed awe-inspiring that she could present the stories so well because writers are judged by the intensity of emotions they are stir in their reader's hearts. Therefore judging the novel according to this criterion makes it one of the best pieces of literature. But there are certainly some elements in the novel which readers would find upsetting especially the constant self-hatred that Pecola feels because of the color of her skin.

The book is essentially about colonization's impact on a child's psyche. Morrison was of one of those black writers who believed that the best way to fight discrimination and segregation was through psychological training. In the bluest eye for example, she focuses on the reactions of many black Americans to the white culture and concludes that black are oppressed not only because of intense racism but because of the perceptions regarding white skin color that perceived within the black community.

The novel revolves around the story of a young child Pecola who belonged to the Breedlove family while the narrator is Claudia MacTeer, a young girl from MacTeer family who observes life around her and presents it as she views it. It is important not to read this book as merely a story of victimization, but essentially as the one where man's dependence on the world is beautifully highlighted. Morrison appears to believe that it is important for every man to be able to attract attention, to know that the world does acknowledge his presence and that he is also an important being. This is what Pecola wants too but she knows that because of the color of her skin, she is constantly ignored by people around her and wonders how the world would have been if she was born with blue eyes. Let us understand the importance of blue eyes here; the author is using the color of eye as a symbol for a sense of self-worth and recognition. Pecola's desire to have blue eyes in other words represents her intense need for recognition, love, and a sense of self-esteem.

Each night Pecola prayed for blue eyes. In her eleven years, no one had ever noticed Pecola. But with blue eyes, she thought, everything would be different. She would be so pretty that her parents would stop fighting. Her father would stop drinking. Her brother would stop running away. If only she could be beautiful. If only people would look at her." (Backcover)

The author has also focused on the feelings of Claudia, the narrator and her importance lies in the fact that it is through her eyes that we are able to get a glimpse of black person's views and thoughts when trapped in a world where white reign supreme. It is strange that this young girl is capable of adult rationalizing and analysis at times but this small error can be ignored if we focus on the world that she exposes us to. She is starkly different from Pecola, because instead of imitating the white or possessing desire t be like them, she shows anger and resentment when mistreated and it is solely directed at the other party and not herself. Unlike Pecola, she doesn't suffer from self-hatred and doesn't consider herself ugly.

Rosemary Villanucci, our next-door friend who lives above her father's cafe, sits in a 1939 Buick eating bread and butter. She rolls down the window to tell my sister Frieda and me that we can't come in. 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. When she comes out of the car we will beat her up, make red marks on her white skin, and she will cry and ask us do we want her to pull her pants down. We will say no. We don't know what we should feel or do if she does, but whenever she asks us, we know she is offering us something precious and that our own pride must be asserted by refusing to accept." (9-10)

The one thing apart from self-hatred that readers and critics would find quite unsettling is the sheer unproductively of Pecola's life. Either it is our social conditioning or psychological yearning that makes us seek some positive coming out of years of pain and sorrow. We want to believe that things do happen for the good and that a man is relieved of his suffering ultimately. But this is not what happens in this novel as Pecola goes from one bad experience to another only to finally lose her mental balance and thus lose all hope of becoming a lovable person.

Though Pecola is the central character, she has been used to exaggerate the inhuman treatment that was meted out to some black women because of their perceived ugliness. It is ironic and paradoxical that some of the other members of the same community would love to ignore Pecola, because her skin was even darker than theirs. This way the writer has tried to highlight the inner need to be considered important by the society is so intense that people with marginal advantage would view those beneath them condescendingly. This is what happens what Claudia and Frieda; the two young girls from the MacTeer family would encounter Pecola. They loved to enjoy few moments of superiority in their restricted sphere when they compared themselves with Pecola and found themselves to better than the 11-year-old. This is evident from the last few passages in which Claudia is forced to review her fragile sense of self-worth and finds that she too was partly responsible for Pecola's tragic end as instead of providing support to her, she always took advantage of her guilt and shame, "We were so beautiful when we stood astride her ugliness. Her simplicity decorated us; her guilt sanctified us, her pain made us glow with health.... And she let us, and thereby deserved our contempt." (p. 205)

Notice the last few words of the lines above, Morrison wants her readers to understand that everyone possesses an innate power to stop others from mistreating him and those who fail to utilize that power are the ones who ultimately fall victim to scorn and indignation. As mentioned above, Morrison held blacks partly responsible for their circumstances and the treatment that was meted out to them.

It was their contempt for their own blackness that gave the first insult its teeth. They seemed to have taken all of their smoothly cultivated ignorance, their exquisitely learned self-hatred, their elaborately designed hopelessness and sucked it all up into a fiery cone of scorn that had burned for ages in the hollows of their minds - cooled - and spilled over lips of outrage, consuming whatever was in its path." (Pg. 65)

This novel also seeks to address the rather controversial subject of beauty. The writer wants us to examine different aspects of beauty and find out for ourselves what exactly is it. Does blue eyes and white skin make a person beautiful or should beauty be something entirely different, something that has nothing to do with a person's appearance. It is disturbing to see… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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