MORRISON, TONI. "THE BLUEST EYE".
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Critical review of novel on evils of racism & capitalism from black perspective.... More...
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Critical review of novel on evils of racism & capitalism from black perspective.
In her novel The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison explores the themes of racism and capitalism, specifically from the perspective of the black experience in the United States. In general, the view of the characters in the novel is that the world is run by and for white people, especially white people with power and property, and that black people, particularly poor black people, are hurt in many ways by this racist, capitalist system. One of the most destructive results of this racist, capitalist system is that black people come to feel so negatively about themselves and their race that they long to be white. The character of Pecola portrays this self-hatred and its destructive effects. Morrison clearly believes every aspect of racism to be
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. . By creating characters we come to care about deeply, Morrison showsus how every part of a poor black's existence is damaged by socioeconomicconditions. Morrison focuses on poor, black female characters forthe most part, which means characters who suffer on the third level ofsexism. Did you forget about the children? Yes. New York: Washington Square, 1972.----------------------- 3 In general, the view of the characters inthe novel is that the world is run by and for white people, especiallywhite people with power and property, and that black people, particularlypoor black people, are hurt in many ways by this racist, capitalist system. You forgot, Lord. It is created by society through its culture and advertising, its institutions and the ideas and beliefs and values which it pounds into its citizens every day and night. You looked at them and wondered why they were so ugly. . We felt comfortable in our skins, enjoyed the news that our senses released to us, admired our dirt, cultivated our scars, and could not comprehend this unworthiness (62). But she actually desiressomething far more real, something which the black culture takes forgranted and the white culture would consider quaint at best: "I want to siton the low stool in Big Mama's kitchen with my lap full of lilacs andlisten to Big Papa play his violin for me alone" (21). It;s too late. It was as though some mysterious, all-knowing master had given each one a cloak of ugliness to wear, and they had each accepted it without question (34). . Morrison is certainly not saying that the solution to the problem ofracism is to have blacks me more like whites. In the lattersense, capitalism is racism in an economic form. older girls, shops, magazines, newspapers, window signs---all the world had agreed that a blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl child treasured (2 ). . Morrison clearly believes every aspect of racism to be destructive tothe victim of racism, but she does not argue that everything aboutcapitalism is destructive. Certain seeds it will not nurture, certain fruit it will not bear, and when the land kills of its own volition, we acquiesce and say the victim had no right to live. . The poverty whichcapitalism forces on the weak and poor and propertyless in society is apoverty which eats away at the mind and heart and soul, and this isespecially true of poor blacks, who suffer double discrimination incapitalist society. You let them go wanting, sit on road shoulders, crying next to their dead mothers. (18). The narrator reflects on the natural, self-loving state of children before they have been corrupted by white, capitalist society to think negatively about themselves: What was the secret? . Morrison makes clear that this sense of inferiority is not natural at all. It is assumed that she wants what the society at largecherishes---the images of the white world. What is destructive is the difficulty faced byblacks who want to share in any meaningful way in that capitalist system: Being a minority in both caste and class, we moved about . Here again we findMorrison emphasizing the damage that racism and capitalism cause the poorblack person to do to himself or herself: Although their poverty was traditional and stultifying, it was not unique. For the black female narrator of thenovel, It had begun with Christmas and the gift of dolls. Adults. . What did we lack? . The big, the special, the loving gift was always a big, blue-eyed Baby Doll. The message of the book is not hopeful. . This is not a novel which points out the wrongs of capitalism andracism and then comes up with a happy ending, a silver thread in the darkcloud of injustice. . We are wrong, of course, but it doesn't matter. . . In Soaphead Church's letter to God, there is a calm anger expressedwith regard to how it seems God has abandoned victims of racism andcapitalism: You said, "Suffer little children to come unto me, and harm them not." Did you forget? The paragraph on Pauline's rotting tooth (92-93) shows howpoverty infects parts of life that people who are not poor never thinkabout---having a cavity filled before it eats the tooth away. Morrison ties the destructive effects of racism and capitalismtogether in numerous ways. One of the most destructive results of this racist, capitalist systemis that black people come to feel so negatively about themselves and theirrace that they long to be white. Knowing that there was such a thing as outdoors bred in us a hunger for property, for ownership. But their ugliness was unique. . Guileless and without vanity, we were still in love with ourselves then. . And on a moregrand and horrifying scale, we see the self-hatred of racism eat away atthe mind and soul of Pecola's father until he rapes his own daughter. . To the contrary, the authorwrites that "A little black girl yearns for the blue eyes of a little whitegirl, and the horror at the heart of her yearning is exceeded only by theevil of fulfillment" (158). The firm possession of a yard, a porch, a grape arbor. What makes capitalism evil to Morrison is that, one, the rewards ofthe system are denied most blacks because the "game" is unfair from thebeginning, the rules favoring whites and disfavoring blacks, and, two,blacks who are excluded from capitalism's rewards feel so badly aboutthemselves that they come to hate who and what they are. Rented blacks cast furtive glances at these owned yards. However, the narrator cherishes the rewards of her own culture, pooras it may be, and hates the blue-eyed, blonde-haired dolls so much that shedestroys them. . Then you realized that it came from conviction, their conviction. Every day in hundreds and thousands of ways poor blacks everywhere have pounded into them the idea that they are inferior because they are poor and because they are black. In such familiarcultural reality the girl finds "security" and "warmth," while the imagesof the white world bring nothing but hatred and misery. Again and again, however, Morrison is intent on showing that self-hatred is the most evil result of racism and capitalism. Racism creates hatred not only of self but of "the other," which, inthis case, is the white person. Our peripheral existence . . I've seen them charred, lame, halt. was something we had learned to deal with. BibliographyMorrison, Toni. For example, she writes that the Breedloves"lived [in a storefront] because they were poor and black, and they stayedthere because they believed they were ugly" (34). The white-run, capitalist society is built and perpetuated on the idea of selling images of what it means to be happy and successful, and those images have to do with being white and wealthy. You forgot. . . . In her novel The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison explores the themes ofracism and capitalism, specifically from the perspective of the blackexperience in the United States. Why was it important? At least on the edge of my town, among the garbage and the sunflowers of my town, it's much, much, much too late (16 ). But the final message is that for many poor, for many blacks, formany other victims of capitalism and racism, it is simply too late: This soil is bad for certain kinds of flowers. on the hem of life, struggling to consolidate our weaknesses and hang on, or to creep singly up into the major folds of the garment. The character of Pecola portrays this self-hatred and its destructive effects. . You forgot how and when to be God (143). It would seemthat Morrison's message is a thoroughly pessimistic one. The Bluest Eye. And so what?
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