Significance of the Title of The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Naturally finding a self-identity is often a sign of maturing and growing up. We find it as the main issue in Toni Morrison’s novelThe Bluest Eyes. There are several characters in this novel, such as; Pecola Breedlove, Cholly Breedlove, and Pauline Breedlove who search for their identity through others that has influenced them and by the lifestyles those they have. Pecola Breedlove struggles to get accepted into society due to the beauty factor that the norm has. Her father is a drunk; he raped Pecola and Pauline physically.
Pacola is a little black girl who has a hard time finding herself. She is brought up as a poor unwanted girl; she desires the approval and love of society. The world has led her to believe that she is ugly and that the epitome of “beautiful” requires blue eyes. Every night before she goes to sleep, she prays that may she wake up with blue eyes.
Morrison ‘intentionally kept Pecola from any first person narration of the story’. By Pecola, the author has tried to show a little girl as a total and complete victim of whatever was around her. Morrison uses Claudia’s ‘youthful innocence’ to show how ‘the other characters, especially Pecola, admire the “ideal” of beauty presented by white.
The Bluest Eye is rather like a puzzle, where it is possible to piece together certain events that lead to Pecola’s rape. Pecola choices to magic when God fails to provide her with the blue eyes she has prayed for. Her belief in her blue eyes is no more a sign of insanity than ‘the community women’s belief that Jimmy has died from eating a peach cobbler.’
Religion is also linked with sex in The Bluest Eye, and his ‘confusion of lovemaking with “Communion and the Holy Grail”’ which causes him to lose his wife. Beauty in The Bluest Eye is also associated with religion because ‘Each night Pecola prayed for blue eyes’ and the disappearance of her ugly self. From birth Pecola has felt ugly because even her mother knew that she was ugly. Pecola can generate no self-identity, certainly no positive identity, since she has never experienced her mother’s loving observation.
Pecola believes that if she was beautiful, her beauty would stop her parents from fighting. Pecola’s perception of her beauty only changes when her mental attitude changes – when she thinks that she has blue eyes, she thinks that she is beautiful. With her blue eyes, Pecola feels that Pauline Breedlove looks away from her, but in reality Pecola reminds Mrs. Breedlove of the rape that she was unwilling to believe in.
In The Bluest Eye, Pecola is the most obvious example of neglect and loneliness but her father, Cholly Breedlove was abandoned ‘in a junk heap by his mother’ and ‘rejected for a crap game by his father’. Although her parents do not physically abandon her, they provide her with no emotional support. Pecola is also completely isolated at school, where her classmates tease her because of her darker shade of skin.
The most obvious characters who indulge in sexual excess are the three prostitutes, China, Poland and Miss Marie aside from the rape. Although they make their living from men they hate them ‘without shame, apology or discrimination. They have plenty of sex, their encounters are not pleasant. Their prostitution allows the women to enjoy ‘sexual autonomy [and] economic independence.’ Pecola admires their independence because it allows them to ignore society’s criticism of them.
Morrison emphasizes that blacks can be prejudiced as well as whites, in particular light skinned blacks, such as Geraldine, are racist towards those with darker skin.