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Themes and Symbols of Toni Morrisons, Bluest Eye

By , Greenville, SC
In Toni Morrison’s, The Bluest Eye, theme, symbols and characterization contribute to the formation of the novel. The novel further shows the way white beauty can easily be degrading to young black girls and women. The novel is ironic due to the seasons and showing an opposite expectation of them. In addition, The Bluest Eye depicts on how family life and childhood can have a great effect on a person’s life.
The theme of beauty plays a great part in the development of the characters and the novel. Throughout the novel, the reader views Pecola worshiping the beautiful white icons of the 1940’s. Pecola also goes as far as drinking three quarts of milk just so she can use the cup with Shirley Temple’s picture on it. Pecolas mother, Pauline also seems to worship the white icons. Pauline visits the movies dues to loneliness and buys into the fantasy world she views in movies. She even wears her hair like the white actress, Jean Harlow. By the end of the story, like the title of the novel The Bluest Eye, Pecola comes to believe that she actually has blue eyes and her delusion shows how white society can affect a young black girl. The theme of sex is also portrayed greatly in the novel. Most of the major male characters of this novel have a sexual desire for young girls, including Cholly Breedlove, Mr.Henry, and Soaphead Church. The girls in the novel are victims. The young girls of the book do not experience their youth as any other young girl would. They are raped and sexually violated. We had dropped our seeds in our own little plot of black dirt just as Pecola’s father had dropped his seeds in his own plot of black dirt.

Blue eyes symbolize the cultural beauty of America and white society. Pecola believes that having blue eyes will change the way others view her and giving her something viewed as beautiful to society. She thinks that having blue eyes will also change the way she views the world, giving her a carefree world of a white child. “It had occurred to Pecola some time ago that if her eyes, those eyes that held the pictures, and knew the sights—if those eyes of hers were different, that is to say, beautiful, she herself would be different.”

The color blue can also be viewed as a color of sadness. Even though Pecola strived to have blue eyes, the reader could see her as having the saddest eyes of anyone in the novel. The use of the symbol of seasons is used to show that the events happening in the novel do not correspond to events that viewed in the actual season. Spring is seen as a time of rebirth, but in Pecolas case, her own father rapes her in a drunken state and insanity. In addition, Claudia associates spring as being whipped for the first time with a switch, rather than a strap. In the summer, the presence of gleeful children is not seen, but instead an isolated, insane Pecola with an imaginary friend who she believes is jealous of her. In autumn, the season of harvesting, unfortunately Pecolas baby dies.

In the novel, family life brightens the personalities of the characters. Soaphead church family background and past can be seen as a reason for his sexual interest in young girls. His strict father also adds to his obsession with cleanliness. Cholly Breedlove was abandoned by his father, leaving him knowing how to nurture and care for his own family. He also raped his own daughter, adding to the family’s downfall. Therefore, Pecolas tough family life leaves her not knowing how to react to the realities of American beauty.

The names of the characters are strange and ironic. The family name Breedlove is ironic due to there being little sign of love amongst the family members. In addition, the characters actions make it easier to get to know them. Claudia displays her faithfulness to Pecola by punching her in the face for teasing her. Frieda shows the same qualities by hitting Woodrow Cain, defending Pecola. Miss Maries displays lack for societal expectations of female puerilities by laughing and cursing loudly. Cholly displays his disgust for women and family by hitting his wife, attempting to burn down their house, and raping his own daughter. Pauline frustration from family transfers to the upkeep of the Fisher home, distracting her from her own home.

As a reader of the actual novel or a reader of this exact essay, just by reading either, this book is seen as being very sad and kind of depressing, but its just simply stating the realities of how life was over sixty years ago. Children being treated horribly, women are emotionally and physically abused, and ones beauty being treasured by another. “Love is never any better than the lover. Wicked people love wickedly, violent people love violently, weak people love weakly, stupid people love stupidly, but the love of a free man is never safe. There is no gift for the beloved. The lover alone possesses his gift of love. The loved one is shorn, neutralized, frozen in the glare of the lover’s inward eye.” To conclude, Toni Morrison’s, The Bluest Eye, theme, symbols and characterization contribute to the formation of the novel.



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