The Search for Blue Eyes
Racialised Beauty in The Bluest Eye
Though there have been many steps towards equality in today’s society, America, as a whole, will not reach it until races could be equal in everything. But America is still a race dominated culture, and mostly a white dominated culture. In this culture, society looks up to a racialised beauty, where beauty is defined in the terms of white beauty, or the physical features most white people have. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison tells the story of Pecola Breedlove, who wants to be beautiful, and searches for blue eyes because she and most of the characters in the book, view her as ugly. Through Pecola’s journey for her own set of blue eyes, we learn about the main black characters and their quest for something more, and how they respond to the dominating white culture and society.
Pauline Breedlove, who is Pecola’s mother, learned about beauty and why she was not beautiful through movies and through her experiences as a black woman. She escaped to the movies as a young woman, watching the white feminine stars on the screen, where “[a]long with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another – physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion” (95). Because of her viewing white femininity as the thing to strive for, she tries to conform, as do the rest of the black women, to the white ideal, despite their blackness and it leads to an internalized self-hatred. Pauline begins to see herself through the eyes of her opposite, a white woman. Pauline and other black women at the time, by trying to comform to white beauty has destructive qualities then on their communities, in the novel and during this time period. One of the cornerstones of our modern society is the value of human beings along racial lines; the most prominent that people would see during that time period is that blackness is despised and so are the features that go along with it.
There are black women in society at the time who had repressed their own heritage, their own race so they could fit in, like the character Geraldine. She had been well educated and adapted to the white society. She had tried to repress the black characteristics she had found in herself, that were not acceptable in white society. She strived “to get rid of the funkiness” (64). Geraldine wanted to fit in so badly, she would not let her son play with black boys, and did not show him much attention, such as the way white women did not show their children much attention because they had the help for that. One of the most useful lessons she believes to teach her son is the difference between black people and colored people: “Colored people were neat and quiet; niggers were dirty and loud” (67). She rejects all things that reminds her she is black, such as when she finds Pecola in her house, who embodies all the negative aspects of being black: She looked at Pecola. Saw the dirty torn dress, the plaits sticking out on her head, hair matted where the plaits had come undone, the muddy shoes with the wad of gum peeping out from between the cheap soles, the soiled socks, one of which had been walked down into the heel on the shoe. … She had seen this little girl all of her life. Hanging out of windows over saloons in Mobile, crawling over the porches of shotgun houses on the edges of town, sitting in bus stations holding paper bags and crying to mothers who kept saying ‘Shet up!’ (71, 72).
Geraldine is used by Morrison to illustrate the people who in the time period help keep others of their race down in a way that they could not come back from without a major societal change. They were allowing the stereotype to be fueled because they comfortable where they were; much like the women’s rights movement, these black women who were comfortable where they were would not help the others. Another character that...
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