Introduction to Literature
November 6th, 2012
Sisterhood in The Bluest Eye
I’m writing about love or it’s absence.
The loneliest woman in the world is a woman without close woman-friend.
From the quotations above, I’d like to choose two words, “love” and “woman-friend”, to reveal the focus of Toni Morrison’s novel, The Bluest Eye, that is, the representation of sisterhood.
In The Bluest Eye, personally, sisterly love is represented as a “voice” to speak what is unspeakable. In other words, a sister gives words to another sister who is the ultimate “other” and who is silenced and damned by her unspeakable experience in the white patriarchal world.
Pecola, the heroine in The Bluest Eye suffers what Philomela does, for she is raped by her own father. Moreover, she suffers from emotional rape from her mother.
Pecola’s father Cholly Breedlove has a traumatic childhood when he is abandoned by his parents and his is forced to perform sexually for two white hunters. Then, Cholly regards his black identity as inferior and stigmatized because of the disgraceful exposure of himself as weak. When Cholly becomes an adult, even a father, he still negates himself and transfer his own shame to his daughter. Cholly even becomes the perpetrator of rape on his own daughter. In fact, such sexual violation is common in the African-American world; because of the grave oppression from the White, the Black male transfers it to the Black female, even if she is closed to him. As a black male in a society that values only whiteness, Cholly believes that he is useless and powerless, so Pecola, his daughter, becomes the only person he can dominate to assert himself. By committing such violent incest, Cholly thinks he has gained power in his otherwise dismal world but he does not realize that he has violated the sacred values of family life and even destroyed his own daughter’s childhood. What’s worse, such a kind of sexual violence turns out to be an kind of unspeakable as Toni Morrison says: “Because when I began to write, it was an unmentionable. It is so dangerous, it is so awful, so wicked, that I think in connection with vulnerable black women it was never talked about” (Chloe Wofford 75). When the incest is committed, denial, avoidance and distancing are common responses. Pecola’s suffering from physical rape is so shameful that it turns out to be a patriarchal taboo which remains unspeakable.
However, Pecola’s tongue is not cut off and she indeed is able to speak and tells Mrs.Breedlove what has happened. Unfortunately, Pecola’s mother is unwilling to listen to her and refuse to believe what Pecola confides to her. Instead of giving Pecola comfort and helping her fight against Cholly, Pauline Breedlove denies the rape and even blames Pecola for being raped. Pauline abuses Pecola as the patriarch has abused her. Thus. when Cholly, rapes again, Pecola keeps the story and remains silent.
Obviously, Pecola’s mother, who would come to her rescue. One is able to help the other on the condition that he believes in himself and loves the one who needs help. However. Pauline not only negates her own self but also emotionally abandons her own daughter. Pauline has a sense of defectiveness because of her deformed foot; that is, Pauline is victimized by the white norms of beauty. Unable to love her own self, Pauline can not love her daughter. And Pecola does not enjoy maternal love since she was born. Her mother thinks she is ugly: “She looked so different from what I thought. Reckin I talked to it so much I conjured up a mind’s eye view of it”, but “I knowed she was ugly. Head full of pretty hair, but Lord she was ugly”( Bluest Eye 99-100). In Pauline’s “mind’s eye of view” of the unborn child, it must look like the white in the movies she has watched, thus, Pauline is greatly dismayed and biased to Pecola. Moreover, Mrs. Breedlove doesn’t care about her...