In Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, both racism and beauty are portrayed in a number of ways. This book illustrates many of the racial concerns which were immense issues in the 1970’s when the book was written, however not as much of issues in today’s current society.
Before you even open the book, both racism and beauty are revealed through the title of the book, The Bluest Eye. When the book was written, blonde hair and blue eyed people were the stereotypical portrayal of paramount flawlessness. Anybody that didn’t fit into this class was considered ugly. Even the dolls, such as Betsy Wetsy or Barbie dolls had the massive, round, deep blue eyes. Claudia, the narrarator, along with the other girls, looked up to these stereotypes of splendor and were also very envious of them. “I destroyed white baby dolls” Claudia said after describing the dolls with big, false blue eyes.
Even the adults admired the blue eyes, as shown when Mrs. Breedlove was working for the Fishers. She took pride to the way she kept their house, received a nickname, and comforted the little white girl, before her own daughter. When Pecola dropped the steaming blueberry pie on the kitchen floor, Mrs. Breedlove hit her daughter to the floor and calmed the young “beautiful” white girl.
Throughout the novel, Pecola was depicted as ugly because she was always miserable. She would always saunter around with a sad, grim look on her face, and rarely talked to anyone. The only time when she was content, however insane, was when she thought she had received her blue eyes towards the conclusion of the novel.
Maureen Peal was portrayed as beautiful because she was different. Maureen was a “high-yellow dream child with long brown hair braided into two lynch ropes that hung down her back. She was rich, at least by our standards, as rich as the richest of white girls, swaddled in comfort and care.” Maureen gave everyone a new light in the dead of winter, by wearing bright colors, and wearing expensive, stunning fur coats.
Toni Morrison especially integrated these themes into the novel to show that the stereotypes about blonde hair, blue eyed people were misleading, to show that all races are beautiful, and also to convey a story. These were the representations of racism and beauty when the book was published in 1970. However, society hasn’t changed very much since. There is a great deal less racism, and most races are publicized to be beautiful, however the media portrays models especially to be lean and anorexic, the stereotype of what everyone in society should look like. All men are supposed to be ripped, hairless and skinny and all women are supposed to be tall, skinny, and have long legs.
Racism and beauty played big roles throughout the novel. Toni Morrison’s intentions in writing this book were to show that racism and beauty are within the mind of the beholder.
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