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Early childhood experiences often behave as the critical factors which determine how well a person will turn out. Given that point, childhood memories filled with anger and sorrow naturally impact the development of one’s life negatively. Toni Morrison, growing up during the era of ongoing racist oppression in the United States, had experienced the prejudice and discriminations because of her dark complexion. Through her own personal encounters, Morrison reflects the severity of the effects of adversities such as bad parenting and humiliation caused by racism on young children in her novel The Bluest Eye. The memories and the effects of tragedies often impair one’s ability to give and receive proper love, then leave behind a vicious cycle of distorted love which shadows over those close to them. Knowing this well, Morrison intentionally depicts the character Cholly, who commits many disturbing crimes in the novel, as more of a victim than a criminal and as a sympathetic character through her literary manipulations.
Morrison not only reveals but also puts an emphasis on the traumatic incidents that occurred in Cholly’s past in order to create a room for justifications to Cholly’s otherwise unforgivable deeds. Provided Morrison’s detailed description of Cholly’s early years which goes, “When Cholly was four days old, his mother wrapped him in two blankets and one newspaper and placed him on a junk heap by the railroad” (Morrison, 132) the readers are able to encounter the depressing grey shadow of Cholly’s life from its beginning and begin to feel bad about his situation. The introduction of Cholly Breedlove’s stormy start to life serves to intensify the severity of his early situations as well as leading the minds of the readers closer to the direction of sympathy rather than rational justice for the man who commits many crimes. In an article titled “Childhood Trauma Leaves Lasting Marks on the Brain,” Martin Teicher who is a researcher at Harvard Medical School states “Early childhood maltreatment acts as a stressor. It can result in a cascade of physiological changes to the brainâ€¦ that childhood abuse leads to the emergence of psychiatric disorders.” Morrison herself probably felt sympathetic toward the character Cholly. As a result, the novel also continues to show more instances of Cholly being the victim of the wrongful deeds of the more superior beings. When Cholly has sex for the first time with a girl named Darlene, he gets caught in the act by two white men who humiliate them by forcing them to continue as they stood there watching and harassing disrespectfully. Morrison gives a two-page long description of the incident that occurred during the sexual intercourse of Darlene and Cholly. The description of the incident starts off happily and peaceful, as Cholly and Darlene start cuddling, then shifts its gear toward the building up of anger and hatred of Cholly as the white men humiliate him. Morrison then ends the long description of the incident with, “Cholly, moving faster, looked at Darlene. He hated her. He almost wished he could do it – hard, long, and painfully, he hated her so much” (Morrison, 148) With the use of very vivid language, the author carefully desires some degree of understanding of Cholly’s later commitment of sexual crime to his own daughter. It is now clear that the author intends to sympathize and also somewhat justify the inhumane deeds done by Cholly to the people around him. Morrison wanted to prove that the origin of evil does not lie within a human being himself but results from the damages of past adversities. Besides emphasizing the dark past of Cholly which probably is responsible for his wrong behaviors to a major extent, the author uses the opposite approach to her approach discussed this paragraph, to continue supporting Cholly as the victim as well.
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On the other hand, Morrison takes a few measures to deemphasize and mitigate the horrific deeds of Cholly Breedlove to generate sympathy for him and provide reasons for his actions. Throughout the plot, Cholly finds himself engaging in various acts of crime such as beating his wife, raping his own daughter Pecola, burning his own house down, and murdering three white men. The intended use of precise and off-hand depictions of incidents satisfies the author’s purpose of turning certain terrible wrongdoings to be less terrible, and even acceptable. Many of the horrific acts committed by Cholly seemed to be rather hidden and only shortly implied in an insignificant manner. For instance, Cholly’s second rape of his own daughter Pecola was only slightly revealed in Pecola’s unimportant dialogue with her invisible friend. Thus, Morrison’s effort to hide certain parts of the plot to shift the focus onto the other parts of the plot, contributes to the sympathetic reactions of her readers.
Moreover, Morrison’s choice of diction also reveals her hidden effort to not blame everything on Cholly, but to be more understanding of the origins of Cholly’s brutal behaviors. It is easy to find evidences of such claim as Morrison writes, “He, at any rate, was the one who loved her enough to touch her, envelop her, give something of himself to her. But his touch was fatal, and the something he gave her filled the matrix of her agony with death” (Morrison, 206). The choice of the word “love” from Morrison apparently establishes the justification for Cholly’s committing of rape of his own daughter. Such choice of diction also implies that Cholly had to do what he did, out of his will to love his own daughter. Cholly’s horrific wrongdoing which snatched away the innocence of his own daughter is shadowed and covered by the author’s use of loving and passionate words. One must understand, however, that this distorted meaning of love does not reflect the kind of love which Pecola desires. Just because Cholly twisted mind stained by his dark past somewhat felt the need to rape Pecola as a way of showing love does not mean Pecola wishes to be molested by her own father. Nevertheless, Morrison uses the necessary choice of vocabularies in the text for the purpose of understanding, rather than blaming Cholly for his past and the followed behaviors.
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