The Concepts Of Race In The Bluest Eye English Literature Essay


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"A little black girl yearns for the blue eyes of a little white girl, and the horror at the heart of her yearning is exceeded only by the evil of fulfillment." [1] This conclusion is given at the end of Toni Morison's novel The Bluest Eye. It clearly illustrates how the society in the book is affected by the concepts of race and interpellation. The idea of what beauty is, especially in relationship to racial characteristics, is the book's main theme. In the analysis of the perception of black bodies in the book, a clear statement can be made: in The Bluest Eye, the concepts of race are interpellated by society: black bodies are seen as ugly, while whiteness is seen as beauty.

First of all, the book starts with a short story of Dick and Jane. It is an extract from a popular child's reading book which presents a happy family. All the family members are white, there a no fights and life is good. It resembles the ideology of a perfect white family. The situation is in strong contrast with Pecola's existence, the main character of the book. Pecola is black and there are a lot of fights between her mother and father. Pecola's situation is the antagonism of the white ideology. Although the short story about Dick and Jane transforms into a welter of words in the beginning, the main societal concept of the book is immediately made clear. As long as you are white, you are beautiful. Also, all the chapters' titles are made up from the Dick and Jane story in the beginning. It constantly reminds the reader of the ideal situation, being white, versus the situation of the main characters: being black.

A second example in which the concepts of race and interpellation occur is when Claudia is given a doll. She receives a white baby doll of to play with. Everyone constantly tells her how lovely it is. There are no black dolls, because black is seen as ugly. Although Claudia destroys the dolls, the reader is pointed out how obsessed society is with whiteness. White dolls are given to young girls to manipulate their concept of beauty: you are only beautiful if you are white. This white superiority above blacks keeps recurring. Black girls are taught to hate themselves because they are black and not white. This also happens between mother and daughters; mothers disgust their daughters for being black. This in particular occurs in the Breedlove family. Mrs. Breedlove spurns the ugliness of her daughter.

A third way in which perception of black bodies takes place is when Maureen appears at school. Maureen is lighter skinned than the other children and therefore the closest-to-white person at school. She instantly receives favoritism of all the other children. This resembles how insults to corporeal appearance in the book are given in racial expressions. Blacks are inferior to white people and the more black you are, the more ugly you are. A clear interpellation of the concepts of race takes place: all the black children wished they would be white.

A fourth motif is the way in which Pecola wants to be loved by her community. Pecola thinks that beauty is connected with being loved. She thereby believes that if she had blue eyes, everything would be good, since whiteness is beautiful, and all terrible things in life would be replaced with warmth and love. A seemingly confirmation of Pecola's perception that blue eyes will cure her ugliness is demonstrated when Maureen helps Pecola out at school. Pecola is bullied by some boys at school. When Maureen comes to help her, she stares at the boys with her light eyes. The boys stop bullying Pecola and behave in a more reputable manner. This makes Pecola believe that blue eyes will help solve her ugliness. Next to that, Pecola specifically prefers blue eyes above lighter skin, because she believes that it will help her to see the world in a better way. Pecola is a constant witness of her black ugliness, people view her as dirty. If she would have blue eyes, she would see herself in a new world where she would be beautiful. Her desire for new eyes resembles a connection between how a person is seen and what he or she sees. [2] 

In conclusion, it can be claimed that the perception of black bodies in The Bluest Eye is very negative. Blacks are inferior to the beautiful whites and therefore ugly. The concept of race and interpellation clearly resembles the perception of black bodies. With Pecola's desperate and physically unattainable goal to get blue eyes, the book shows us that we cannot achieve beauty unless we achieve our own idea of beauty, not just what others have led us to believe is beautiful. [3] With The Bluest Eye, Morrison tries to open the eyes of her reader to racism and show them the fictional mirror of beautifulness. She succeeds to do so in a convincing way, at least, my eyes are opened now.

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