Violent Women in The Bluest Eye and Beloved
The black female characters within Toni Morrison’s novels are often scarred by their surrounding, oppressive environments. Whether they are racially exploited, sexually violated, or emotionally abused, these women make choices that cannot be easily understood in order to coexist with these scars. Specifically, many of Morrison’s female characters turn to violence. She resists the temptation to portray only positive or idealistic characters, but rather represents black women as realistic and varied. The complex characters in The Bluest Eye and Beloved reveal feminist issues concerning black women through violence.
The Bluest Eye explores the destructive consequences of the standard of beauty when adopted by a poor, black community. Nine-year-old Claudia begins to realize a need for rebellion when she discovers her invisibility in popular culture. Her hatred of white dolls starts with Shirley Temple, who danced with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, a famous black tap dancer. “I couldn’t join in their adoration because I hated Shirley. Not because she was cute, but because she danced with Bojangles, who was my friend, my uncle, my daddy, and who ought to have been soft-shoeing it and chuckling with me” (Morrison 20). This explanation proves that Claudia feels something has been stolen from her and given to Shirley Temple instead. The performance pairing of the adult black male and the small white girl highlights the absence of the small black girl performer – the performer who looked like Claudia (Harding and Martin 84). Claudia’s feelings of black invisibility become even more evident when she receives white baby dolls as gifts. She dismembers them, and by doing so, she denies her obsessive worship of white attributes and rejects them for her own blackness, forcing others to see her and not a reflection of whiteness.
The outward violence of Claudia is similar to the internal violence another black girl in The Bluest Eye,...
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