Review: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Topics: Black people, White people, Race Pages: 8 (1430 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Misdirection of Anger "Anger is better [than shame]. There is a sense of

being in anger. A reality of presence. An awareness of worth."(50) This is how

many of the blacks in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye felt. They faked love when

they felt powerless to hate, and destroyed what love they did have with anger.

The Bluest Eye shows the way that the blacks were compelled to place their

anger on their own families and on their own blackness instead of on the white

people who were the cause of their misery. In this manner, they kept their anger

circulating among themselves, in effect oppressing themselves, at the same time

they were being oppressed by the white people. Pecola Breedlove was a young

black girl, growing up in Lorain, Ohio in the early 1940's. Her life was one of the

most difficult in the novel, for she was almost totally alone. She suffered the

most because she had to withstand having others' anger dumped on her,

internalized this hate, and was unable to get angry herself. Over the course of

the novel, this anger destroys her from the inside. When Geraldine yells at her

to get out of her house, Pecola's eyes were fixed on the "pretty" lady and her

"pretty" house. Pecola does not stand up to Maureen Peal when she made fun of

her for seeing her dad naked but instead lets Freida and Claudia fight for her.

Instead of getting mad at Mr. Yacobowski for looking down on her, she directed

her anger toward the dandelions that she once thought were beautiful. The

dandelions also represent her view of her blackness, once she may have

thought that she was beautiful, but like the dandelions, she now follows the

majorities' view. However, "the anger will not hold"(50), and the feelings soon

gave way to shame. Pecola was the sad product of having others' anger placed

on her: "All of our waste we dumped on her and she absorbed. And all of our

beauty, which was hers first and which she gave to us"(205). The other black

people felt beautiful next to her ugliness, wholesome next to her uncleanness,

her poverty made them generous, her weakness made them strong, and her pain

made them happier. In effect, they were oppressing her the same way the whites

were oppressing them. When Pecola's father, Cholly Breedlove, was caught as

a teenager in a field with Darlene by two white men, "never did he once consider

directing his hatred toward the hunters"(150), rather her directed his hatred

towards the girl because hating the white men would "consume" him. He was

powerless against the white men and was unable to protect Darlene from them

as well. This caused his to hate her for being in the situation with him and for

realizing how powerless her really was. Cholly also felt that any misery his

daughter suffered was his fault, and looking in to Pecola's loving eyes angered

him because her wondered, "What could her do for her - ever? What give her?

What say to her?"(161) Cholly's failures led him to hate those that he failed, like

Darlene, and most of all his family. His self loathing and pain, all misdirected at

himself, his family, and blacks in general, all contributed to his ultimate failure,

his rape of his daughter. Pecola's mother, Polly Breedlove, also wrongly placed

her anger on her family. As a result of having a crippled foot, Polly had always

had a feeling of unworthiness and separateness. With her own children, she felt

emotionless, only able to express rage, "sometimes I'd catch myself hollering at

them and beating them, but I couldn't seem to stop"(124). She stopped taking

care of her own children and her own home and took care of a white family and

their home. She found praise, acceptance, power, and ultimately whiteness with

the Fisher family, and it is for these reasons that she stayed with them. "The

creditors and service people who humiliated her when she went to them on her

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