The Hunger for Beauty
“If happiness is anticipation with certainty, we were happy.” (pg 16) Morrison’s purpose of including Shirley Temple in the novel is to paint a picture of the ideal girl; a figure of conformity. She represented everything that Pecola thought she should be: blue eyes, blonde hair- a simply adorable little girl; and everything Maureen Peal felt she was: wealthy, light skinned, and what people liked to see. The Bluest Eye illuminates true dependence on absolute beauty; the yearn of conforming to an ultimate standard of it. The usage of Shirley Temple exemplifies this desired beauty and in extension exemplifies desired happiness through beauty. A theme in this novel is obsession over beauty. Pecola wants blue eyes because she craves the love and attention that the Shirley Temples and the Maureen Peals of the world receive. She desires blue eyes as a protective coat around her body. That way, she would be different on the outside, and people would treat her different, just like they treat Shirley Temple. Pecola believes that if she were beautiful, bad things would not happen to her. People would always want to be around her, just like when Pecola constantly drank all that milk just so she could use the Shirley Temple glass. People would not be angry at the sight of her. Instead, they would develop twinkles in their eyes and have a “loving conversation about how cu-ute” (19) she was. Teachers would not despise and ignore her; she would be able to be the gem of her ugly family. “Here was an ugly little girl asking for beauty.” (174) To Pecola, hoping and praying for these blue eyes would somehow allow her to acquire them, thus gaining love for herself and respect, love, and understanding from others. She would become easier to look at, easier to be around, and easier to love. Jerome Bump writes:
Of course, in this family the contamination is not equal. Here as well as in the outside world Pecóla becomes the scapegoat: ‘"If she...
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Coles, Robert. "The Bluest Eye." New Oxford Review. New Oxford Review, May 1996. Web. 22 Nov. 2011. .
Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. New York: Knopf, 1993. Print.
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