Contrasting Images: How Comparing Two Ideas Helps Emphasize Theme in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye In The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison uses the classic Dick and Jane primers to contrast the unusual relationships that are established within the novel between family members or loved ones. The primers are helpful in doing so because they represent what is considered to be the ideal version of the perfect family, and therefore emphasize the dysfunctional relationships that exist within the Breedlove family. This introduces the novel’s main point that although the characters in the novel may blame their unhappiness on their race, it is their lack of successful, loving relationships with others that are keeping them from being truly happy. Morrison is using these ideas to prompt readers to question how the lack of having supportive relationships affects the members of the Breedlove family. In this essay I will argue that the contrast between the Dick and Jane primer and the Breedlove family can be used to show the unhappiness of the Breedloves. This can be seen by evaluating the relationships formed within the Breedlove family, between Pecola Breedlove and animals, and between Cholly Breedlove and his sexual partners.
On the first page of the novel, before Morrison introduces the main characters of The Bluest Eye, she repeats a Dick and Jane children’s primer three times. The first time with perfect punctuation, then with no punctuation, then finally with no punctuation and no spaces between words. The article “Transgression as Poesis in The Bluest Eye” by Shelley Wong suggests that the first time the primer is stated it is used to represent the ideal “American family typified in the novel by the white Fisher family… The second version is then associated with the family of…Claudia MacTeer, a family admitting of some disorder… The final run-on version is said to depict the utter breakdown of order among the Breedloves” (472). This idea is significant because it...
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