Essay, Research Paper: Bluest Eye By Toni Morrison

Literature: Toni Morrison

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The Bluest Eye is a complex book. Substance wise it is a disturbing yet
relatively easy read, but Toni Morrison plays with the narrative structure in a
way so that complexity is added to the hidden depth of the text. From the
beginning to the end of the book, the author takes the reader through a series
of point of views that take turns in narrating the story. But by the end of the
book, the author leaves the reader unclear on who the actual main character of
the book is. Pecola Breedlove, although never the narrator, seems to be the
constant victim and equally the main character of the story. Many readers can
see the book as a story about Claudia MacTeer, who is the main narrator of the
book, but most everything she narrates has a direct tie to Pecola’s life. From
the very start, Claudia describes the home environment in which she lives in.
That home environment is linked to how Pecola comes to live with them and what
affect the two had on each other. Pecola’s presence slightly foreshadows her
future longing for blue eyes by showing the great interest she had in Shirley
Temple, who was known for being a pretty white girl. Claudia then goes into a
series of stories and descriptions of what type of environment Pecola must live
in at her own home. She describes the abandoned store in which the Breedlove
family lives in and the terrible condition of the furniture, which reflects the
type of family the Breedloves are. Whether it was Claudia or another unknown
third person narrator, a specific situation is described in a brutal manner of
exactly what type of environment exists in Pecola’s home. The situation was
where Cholly and Polly fight each other with little hesitation or thought, and
the brief narration ends with how Pecola is affected by such actions.
Claudia’s experiences are even more tied to Pecola’s life through the events
that occurred with Maureen Peal. Claudia begins describing Maureen as her own
enemy but soon enough Maureen is introduced into Pecola’s life along with the
point of view she had upon the ugly child. Maureen was fascinated by Pecola,
which represents one of the many characters who looked down upon her. Along with
the narration of Claudia and the third person, Cholly and Polly have a
significant representation in the story. The springtime is used to represent the
birth of new love and appropriately the origins of Cholly and Polly is the main
story. The chapter describes how the two were in love and describes in depth the
growth of both. Rather than being seen as a story of another character, the
origins of Cholly and Polly can be seen as the explanation of Pecola and her
condition, which heightens the idea of Pecola being the main character. Starting
from birth, Cholly was abandoned, he then abandoned his own life in search of
his father. The cruelty of his father had a big impact on the future of Cholly
and the life he led as an adult. Cholly never had a father figure in his life
and so he never learned to become a father, which became a proponent of
Pecola’s psychological downfall. Polly as a child always played the role of a
housewife. She had great aspirations of one day meeting her prince and living a
wonderful life. She thought she found him in Cholly when he came along and cared
for her lame foot, but as she and Cholly began to have more problems, she began
to take out her anger for Cholly onto her children. Quickly, the Breedlove
household became full of hate and that hate was thrown onto the innocent Pecola.
Throughout the entire book though, different characters laid their hate and
insecurity upon the innocence of Pecola. More than simply specific characters,
by the end of the book, Pecola became the scapegoat of the entire town, “She
be lucky if it don’t live. Bound to be the ugliest thing walking. Can’t help
but be. Ought to be a law: two ugly people doubling up like that to make more
ugly. Be better off in the ground.” (pg.189-90) Pecola continues to stay as
the focus of the story but plays more a character that makes the town feel
better about themselves by looking down upon Pecola. Regardless the negative or
positive light Pecola is seen in, she is the main character to whom the story
belongs. Even though Pecola had no narrative role in the story, she still was
the main character. The author’s use of narrative structure that confuses the
reader of who the main character was purposely done so to effectively portray
Pecola as a character that no one actually knows personally yet can easily hate
or love. Pecola’s experiences would have less meaning coming from Pecola
herself because a total and complete victim as herself would be an unreliable
narrator to relate the actual circumstances of the story. The author also makes
it difficult to determine whom the main character is in order to keep the reader
as an observer and to draw more emotion for Pecola because consistently
throughout the book the reader pities the innocence of Pecola.
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