Beauty in "The Bluest Eye"

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THE BLUEST EYE
The Bluest Eye is a brilliantly written novel revealing the fictional trauma of an eleven-year-old black girl named Pecola Breedlove. This story takes place in the town of Lorain, Ohio during the 1940’s. It is told from the perspective of a young girl named Claudia MacTeer. She and her sister, Frieda, become witness to the terrible plights Pecola is unintentionally put through. Pecola chooses to hide from her disabling life behind her clouded dream of possessing the ever so cherished “bluest of eyes”. The Breedlove’s constant bickering and ever growing poverty contributes to the emotional downfall of this little girl. Pecola’s misery is obtained through the touch of her father’s hand and the voice of her community’s struggle with racial separation, anger, and ignorance. Her innocence is harshly ripped from her grasp as her father rapes her limp existence. The community’s anger with it’s own insecurities is taken out on this poor, ugly, black, non-ideal, young girl. She shields herself from this sorrow behind her obsessive plea for blue eyes. But her eyes do not replace the pain of carrying her fleeing father’s baby. Nor do they protect her from the shady eyes of her neighbours. Though this book discuses negative and disturbing situations, it teaches a very positive lesson. The theme of The Bluest Eye is that of depending on outside influences to become aware of one’s own beauty and to fabricate one’s own self image can be extremely damaging. Topic Tracking: Beauty

Beauty 1: Claudia is constantly faced with white ideals of beauty. For Christmas one year, she receives a blue-eyed, blonde-haired, pink-skinned doll. Rather than adore the doll, she destroys and dismembers it as a result of her anger. Claudia feels she can never measure up to the beauty of white children, the beauty that all the world reveres. Beauty 2: The Breedloves are poor and ugly. At least that is how they think the world views them. Their beliefs that they are ugly come from white American media always portraying whites as representations of what is beautiful. Because of this, they do not strive for more, for they think that they do not deserve to have more. Beauty 3: Pecola wishes that she had blue eyes. She thinks that if her eyes were blue, and therefore beautiful according to white American standards, then her problems would go away and her life would be beautiful. Then maybe, her classmates and teachers would not despise her and think she was so ugly. She so hates herself that she stares at herself in the mirror trying to figure out where her ugliness comes from. Beauty 4: For one year Pecola prays that her eyes will turn blue. She has many problems in her life, starting with family issues, and she thinks that if she had blue eyes, her problems might go away. And even more than that, if she had blue eyes, people would see her as beautiful, and then she would be able to see herself as beautiful too. Being a black little girl in a society that idolizes blonde-haired blue-eyed beauty, Pecola thinks she is ugly. Pecola sympathizes for the dandelions because she knows what it is like to be devalued. She finds beauty in the weeds, for she thinks that people see her as a weed. Beauty 5: A new little girl, named Maureen Peal, comes to Claudia and Frieda's school. Maureen is revered for her looks, which people deem 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). Beauty 6: 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...
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