In today's society many people are always looking for acceptance from others. Some people believe that if one has the right appearance, style or personality, people will like someone. Whether it is rich or poor, many try to find ways to be accepted. In Toni Morrison's novel The Bluest Eye, Pecola Breedlove believes to be accepted in society means to have light skin and to be beautiful means to be measured according to the beauty myth of having blonde hair and blue eyes. Pecola Breedlove thinks that if her eyes are blue, she would not be ugly, rejected, and despised by her community. Furthermore, Pecola thinks that blue eyes will make all of her problems go away and she would be accepted.
The Bluest Eye was published in 1970. Most of the novel is narrated by a young black girl, Claudia MacTeer, who is part of a poor but loving family in Lorrain, Ohio, in the 1940's. However, the primary focus of the novel is on an eleven year old girl name Pecola Breedlove, another young black girl who lives in a very different circumstance from Claudia and her sister, Frieda. Pecola is the most affected by race, hatred, and her own idea of ugliness. Near the start of the book, Morrison write about the Breedlove's home, a bleak storefront, "They live there because they were poor and black, and they stayed because they believed they were ugly"(Morrison 38). Pecola believed at a young age that she was ugly and white skin, blue eyes, and blonde hair is beautiful, that is why she yearns for blue eyes throughout the book. Pecola's mother Pauline is cruel to her family because they are a constant reminder that her life can never measure up to the idea world of the white family for which she works as a maid. Not only is Pecola's mother distant, but her father is also unreliable for comfort and support. Cholly Breedlove drinks excessively and later rapes Pecola. She bears his child, who dies shortly after birth. After visiting Soaphead Church, a "Spiritualist" who claims he can make Pecola eyes blue, Pecola believes that she has bluest eyes in the world and now everyone will love her. In the end, Pecola descends into insanity.
The novel is opens with the idea happy white family. A house consisting of a mom: dad, son, daughter, and a pet. The family seems playful and cheerful, and they have money. This message is repeated over and over many times and then reducing with no punctuation and fragments. Like the life of Pecola, she is repeatedly praying for blue eyes, "Each night, without fail, she prayed for blue eyes. Fervently, for a year she had prayed" (Morrison 46). In the novel, whiteness is the standard beauty. They associated white with innocence and purity. Morrison's story turns on this idea that African Americans too often disdain the outward signs of the racial heritage, what she calls their "funkiness" and hold white racial characteristics to be the beauty ideal (Bloom 1).
Suffering the most from the beauty standard is Pecola. She is convinced by her family, classmates, and her neighbors that she is ugly (LRC 2011). One incident occurs after school, "A group of boys was circling and holding at bay a victim, Pecola Breedlove" (Morrison 65). Pecola becomes a scapegoat for ugliness in these boys' eyes, when the narrator states, "They dance a macabre ballet around the victim, whom, for their own sake, they were prepared to sacrifice to the flaming pit" (Morrison 55). Many of the children treat Pecola this way because she is African-American and poor. Pecola accept what society says about her and her family "You are ugly people". They took the ugliness in their hands, threw it as a mantle over them, and went about the world with it" (39). Most of the African-American community in this story believes the traditional values of beauty because they are too corrupted by the values of the white culture to believe otherwise.
Pecola believes that white skin and blue eyes will make all of the cruel things in her live will be replaced with good things. "Why, look at pretty-eyed Pecola. We mustn't do bad things in front of those pretty eyes" (Morrison 46). She stared long hours in the mirror trying to figure out what was making her so ugly: the ugliness that made people treats her so wrong. She hopelessly longs to posses blue eyes so she will be beautiful and lovable. The constant criticism and dysfunctional family life leads her to imagines ways in which whiteness might be magically achieved (Bloom 1). For example, she was fond of the Shirley Temple cup and took every opportunity to drink milk out of it just see sweet Shirley's face. With the image that Pecola sees of Shirley Temple, Pecola believes that having blue eyes will make her life like Shirley's, and that Pecola will be beautiful and all of her problems will disappear.
Pecola and her mother Pauline do not have a normal mother daughter relationship. Pauline treats her with the same rejection and contempt that her society does. One example of rejection is when Pecola accidently knocks over a hot pot of cobbler at her mother's housemaid job. As a result, Pecola is badly burned by the juice. Pauline is scolded and sent away. Instead of caring for her daughter's wounds, Pauline embraces the Fisher's child. "Hush. Don't worry none" (Morrison 109). Not ever knowing what a mother's love feels like, Pecola believes that acquiring blue eyes will lessen her loneliness and cause others to see her in an entirely new and more appreciative light (COLC).
The blame for Pecola's treatment can be traced back to a community that values lighter skin over dark skin. Pecola's family was also to blame. Pauline and Cholly are victimized for their 'ugliness'. When Pecola is born they take their feelings of self-hatred out on her. Hated from birth by her mother, "I knowed she was ugly. Head full of pretty hair, but Lord she was ugly" (Morrison 126), Pecola is also despised for being a part of the Breedlove family by others in the community. Pecola could not have escaped the cruelty of society because of her parents who have no sense of family love and unity (Mbalia).
Pecola's father, Cholly Breedlove, is an abusive drunkard who is suffering from the consequences of a tragic childhood, based on his blackness. He rapes Pecola in an act of drunkenness, because he feels it is the only way he can show his love for his daughter.When Pecola gets pregnant she loses the baby. After numerous traumatic encounters, it is this last experience that eventually drives Pecola to insanity. Throughout the book, Pecola is fascinated by a picture of child actress Shirley Temple on a cup she drinks from in Claudia's house."She was a long time with the milk, and gazed fondly at the silhouette of Shirley Temple's dimpled face (Morrison 19). She relates Shirley Temple's gold blonde hair and blue eyes to her success and believes blue eyes would offer her an escape from her tragic life. As Pecola descends into insanity (LRC), she believes that she has finally received blue eyes.
Pecola can never feel beautiful because she didn't feel loved. However, she had the wrong image of beauty. She believed that by having blue eyes and blonde hair, she would be more beautiful (Morrison 46). This thought was embedded in her mind by the society around her that was obsessed with whiteness. Because she is constantly trying to conform to society's idea of beauty, she is incapable of seeing the beauty within herself. As a result, she can never feel loved or satisfied.
In Conclusion, in today's society many people are longing for acceptance. Some are changing the way they look. In Toni Morrison The Bluest Eye, Pecola Breedlove wants to be accepted in her society. She thinks that acceptance means to posses blue eyes and light skin. Pecola also thinks that if she have all of these characteristics, all of her problems would disappear and she would be beautiful and all of her family, classmates and her whole community would say she is beautiful. Then she would not be ugly, rejected, and depised.