Racism in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye Essay

Racism is a central theme in Toni Morrison’s novel, The Bluest Eye. Throughout the story, characters such as Pecola and Cholly are subjected to racist attitudes and behaviors, which ultimately contribute to their feelings of alienation and disillusionment.

These experiences serve as a painful reminder of the deeply entrenched racism that continues to exist in society today. Despite efforts towards equality and racial harmony, there remains a long history of discrimination and oppression against people of color worldwide. As we continue to grapple with these issues, it is crucial that we work towards creating an inclusive and just society where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

The novels of Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye and Tracks are both concerned with seeing. Both works examine the effects of a form of perception that is refracted through the prism of racism by people subjected to racism.

Morrison’s novel is about the destructive power of white beauty standards internalized by black people. Erdrich’s novel is about the destructive power of white conceptions of Native Americans internalized by Native Americans.

In The Bluest Eye, Morrison shows how racism can cause black people to believe that they are ugly. The protagonist, Pecola Breedlove, is a young black girl who desperately wants to have blue eyes because she has been taught to believe that blue eyes are beautiful and that black people are ugly. Pecola’s self-hatred leads her to commit an unthinkable act.

In Tracks, Erdrich shows how racism can cause Native Americans to believe that they are savages. The protagonist, Nanapush, is a member of the Anishinabe tribe who was forced to attend a white-run boarding school. At the school, he was taught that Native Americans are savages and that their culture is worthless. Nanapush’s self-hatred leads him to commit an unthinkable act.

While both novels are about racism, they are also about different kinds of racism. The Bluest Eye is about colorism, or the discrimination against black people based on the color of their skin. Tracks is about ethnocentrism, or the belief that one’s own culture is superior to all others.

Colorism is a form of racism that is often perpetuated by black people themselves. In The Bluest Eye, Morrison shows how black people can be complicit in their own oppression by internalizing and repeating the dominant views of white people. The effects of colorism are visible not only in the way that black people see themselves, but also in the way that they treat each other.

Meanwhile, ethnocentrism is a form of racism that is perpetuated by whites towards minorities. In Tracks, Erdrich shows how Native Americans can be complicit in their own oppression by accepting and perpetuating white notions about themselves. Through these representations, both Toni Morrison and Louise Erdrich highlight the complex dynamics around race and racism. Their novels offer important lessons about how we can work to dismantle oppressive systems like racism once and for all.

In this chapter, Pauline Puyat and Pecola Breedlove are both crazy as a result of their experiences with racism. They endure an internalized racism that is bolstered and maintained by social and cultural structures in which they live. Pauline and Pecola grow into the physical representations of worldwide sickness and social abnormalities, growing increasingly alienated from their bodies.

In Erdrich’s Love Medicine, Pauline is an old woman who recalls her life on a North Dakota reservation. She tells us that when she was younger, she had wanted blue eyes and prayed for them nightly. Morrison’s Pecola Breedlove also wants blue eyes and prays for them.

When asked why she wanted blue eyes, Pecola responds, “So that I will be beautiful and people will love me.” (Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1970. Print.) Both girls suffer from low self-esteem and have been taught to despise themselves because they do not meet White standards of beauty.

Racism is one of the main themes in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. Both Pauline Puyat in Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine and Pecola Breedlove in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye struggle with racism and internalized racism, which manifest in their own mental illnesses.

Pauline suffers from a schizophrenic episode that leaves her feeling disembodied, while Pecola experiences social alienation and becomes unable to recognize herself as a person worthy of love or respect. Through these characters, Morrison and Erdrich highlight the damaging effects of racism on individuals and society as a whole.

Pecola’s mind unravels after she is repeatedly subjected to domestic, school, and street violence. All of these abuses are motivated by racism. Pecola starts to believe the racist lie that black individuals are “ugly,” undeserving, and unloved. It is Shirley Temple and the Mary Jane on the wrapper of the candy by that name who serve as models for Pecola’s adorable females in her world.

By the end of the novel, her desire for blue eyes has driven her to believe that she herself is Mary Jane–a lovable, blue-eyed doll. Racism not only causes Pecola to lose her mind, but it destroys her entire family. Her father, Cholly, is unable to function in society because of the racist way he was treated as a child. He rapes Pecola and then abandons her. Pecola’s mother Pauline is also a victim of racism.

She internalizes the messages of white supremacy and begins to believe that she is inferior to whites. This leads her to be abusive to Pecola and treat her own daughter with contempt. Racism also plays a role in the tragic ending to Pecola’s story. When she finally attempts suicide, it is not simply because she cannot handle her past and current circumstances–but because of a racist assumption made by a passerby that Pecola couldn’t possibly be white.

In Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye, racism is at the root of many forms of violence and oppression in the lives of African-Americans in the early 20th century. By recognizing these patterns of racism and understanding their harmful effects on individuals and communities, we can work toward dismantling them and creating more inclusive societies.

To assuage her guilt, Marjorie struggles to make peace with the past and reclaims a sense of self-esteem by writing an oral history. She adopts a critical approach to life and begins altering herself into an acetic lifestyle, alienated from her own culture. She joins a convent and, in addition to wreaking havoc within the Anishinabe community, adopts an acidic way of living that becomes more self-mutating.

Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye explores the internalized racism that is at the root of Pauline’s self-hatred. Morrison shows how whites use their power to control blacks through a number of different devices. The white characters in the novel are constantly telling the black characters what they should do and how they should behave. They tell them what is proper and what is not, what is clean and what is dirty. 

In addition, they use their power to dictate what is considered beautiful and what is not. They do this by dictating standards of beauty through the media, which only shows images of white people as being beautiful.  Blacks internalize these messages and begin to believe that they are ugly and inferior to whites.

This internalized racism is seen most clearly in the character of Pauline Puyat, whose life is completely dominated by her hatred of herself as a mixed-race person. Through her own belief that she is “not one speck of Indian but wholly white,” she comes to reject all aspects of her culture and instead embraces a rigidly Catholic way of life that only serves to feed her self-loathing.

While The Bluest Eye powerfully explores the devastating effects of racism on black individuals, it also offers hope for change through communities coming together in solidarity against oppression. Through this community, Morrison shows how blacks can come together to support each other and reclaim their identity and dignity in the face of a racist society.

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