The Bluest Eye

The Bluest Eye By Toni Morrison Compare and contrast Claudia and Pecola in terms of their ability to fight injustice. How does this ability affect them later in the novel? It is not hard to notice the contrast between Claudia’s method to fight injustice and Pecola’s method. Claudia is a fighter and incredibly brave. She will not let the community that she lives in destroy her life. Therefore, she speaks up when she considers that something is unfair and wrong. Unlike Claudia, Pecola is used to not getting any love or attention from her parents. She does not know how to get anyone to love her, which is stated in the novel on page 23.

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Pecola is also very aware of the fact that people sees her as ugly and that her suffering makes the community feel somewhat lucky. That is the reason she starts living in her own fantasy world. Claudia is giving a white baby doll as a Christmas gift, even though she does not want it. She analyzes the doll while asking herself where the beauty is located. She cannot understand what her community sees in people like Shirley Temple, nor the doll. For that reason, she decides to destroy it, and one can tell that her action portrays some jealousy. In contrast of Claudia, Pecola does not have the emotional strength to defend herself.

She gets harassed by both kids and adults and she just puts up with it. She somehow feels defeated without a fight because of her low self-esteem. She slowly starts to create another world in her mind. “Pecola edged around the circle crying. She had dropped her notebook, and covered her eyes with her hands. ” (50) Pecola Breedlove does not have the self-esteem to contest the injustices she faces from whites. In an effort to be accepted by whites, and furthermore by her family, Pecola longs to conform to Western ideals of beauty presented by whites, especially white, blue-eyed movie stars like Shirley Temple.

Pecola believes that by habitually praying for blue eyes whites would perceive her as beautiful; she too would feel attractive; her parents would discontinue their fighting; Sammy would stop running away and she would have a happy life, like Jane. Pecola? s constant desire for blue eyes is an indication that images of white perfection and beauty are important to her because she feels that it she possesses one symbol of whiteness she will never again be subjected to the harsh realities of discrimination. The Bluest Eye is not one story, but multiple, sometimes contradictory, interlocking stories.

Characters tell stories to make sense of their lives, and these stories have tremendous power for both good and evil. Claudia’s stories, in particular, stand out for their affirmative power. First and foremost, she tells Pecola’s story, and though she questions the accuracy and meaning of her version, to some degree her attention and care redeem the ugliness of Pecola’s life. Furthermore, when the adults describe Pecola’s pregnancy and hope that the baby dies, Claudia and Frieda attempt to rewrite this story as a hopeful one, casting themselves as saviors.

Finally, Claudia resists the premise of white superiority, writing her own story about the beauty of blackness. Stories by other characters are often destructive to themselves and others. The story Pauline Breedlove tells herself about her own ugliness reinforces her self-hatred, and the story she tells herself about her own martyrdom reinforces her cruelty toward her family. Soaphead Church’s personal narratives about his good intentions and his special relationship with God are pure hypocrisy. Stories are as likely to distort the truth as they are to reveal it.

While Morrison apparently believes that stories can be redeeming, she is no blind optimist and refuses to let us rest comfortably in any one version of what happens. Pecola is the protagonist of The Bluest Eye, but despite this central role she is passive and remains a mysterious character. Morrison explains in her novel’s afterword that she purposely tells Pecola’s story from other points of view to keep Pecola’s dignity and, to some extent, her mystery intact. She wishes to prevent us from labeling Pecola or prematurely believing that we understand her.

Pecola is a fragile and delicate child when the novel begins, and by the novel’s close, she has been almost completely destroyed by violence. At the beginning of the novel, two desires form the basis of her emotional life: first, she wants to learn how to get people to love her; second, when forced to witness her parents’ brutal fights, she simply wants to disappear. Neither wish is granted, and Pecola is forced further and further into her fantasy world, which is her only defense against the pain of her existence.

She believes that being granted the blue eyes that she wishes for would change both how others see her and what she is forced to see. At the novel’s end, she delusively believes that her wish has been granted, but only at the cost of her sanity. Pecola’s fate is a fate worse than death because she is not allowed any release from her world—she simply moves to “the edge of town, where you can see her even now. ” [pic][pic][pic] Pecola is also a symbol of the black community’s self-hatred and belief in its own ugliness.

Others in the community, including her mother, father, and Geraldine, act out their own self-hatred by expressing hatred toward her. At the end of the novel, we are told that Pecola has been a scapegoat for the entire community. Her ugliness has made them feel beautiful, her suffering has made them feel comparatively lucky, and her silence has given them the opportunity for speaking. But because she continues to live after she has lost her mind, Pecola’s aimless wandering at the edge of town haunts the community, reminding them of the ugliness and hatred that they have tried to repress.

She becomes a reminder of human cruelty and an emblem of human suffering. Claudia MacTeer Claudia narrates parts of The Bluest Eye, sometimes from a child’s perspective and sometimes from the perspective of an adult looking back. Like Pecola, Claudia suffers from racist beauty standards and material insecurity, but she has a loving and stable family, which makes all the difference for her. Whereas Pecola is passive when she is abused, Claudia is a fighter. When Claudia is given a white doll she does not want, she dissects and destroys it.

When she finds a group of boys harassing Pecola, she attacks them. When she learns that Pecola is pregnant, she and her sister come up with a plan to save Pecola’s baby from the community’s rejection. Claudia explains that she is brave because she has not yet learned her limitations—most important, she has not learned the self-hatred that plagues so many adults in the community. Claudia is a valuable guide to the events that unfold in Lorain because her life is stable enough to permit her to see clearly.

Her vision is not blurred by the pain that eventually drives Pecola into madness. Her presence in the novel reminds us that most black families are not like Pecola’s; most black families pull together in the face of hardship instead of fall apart. Claudia’s perspective is also valuable because it melds the child’s and the adult’s points of view. Her childish viewpoint makes her uniquely qualified to register what Pecola experiences, but her adult viewpoint can correct the childish one when it is incomplete. She is a messenger of suffering but also of hope.


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