Racism In In Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye

600 words - 2 pages

Both Toni Morrison's novel about an African American family in Ohio during the 1930s and 1940s, The Bluest Eye and Louise Erdrich;s novel about the Anishinabe tribe in the 1920s in North Dakota, Tracks are, in part, about seeing.  Both novels examine the effects of a kind of seeing that is refracted through the lens of racism by subjects of racism themselves.  Erdrich's Pauline Puyat and Morrison's Pecola Breedlove are crazy from their dealings with racism and themselves suffer from an internalized racism that is upheld and maintained by social and cultural structures within which they live.  Pauline and Pecola become the embodiment of world sickness, of social pathologies as they become increasingly alienated from their bodies.

Pecola, driven to want blue eyes by her observations that is is those with blue who receive and thus "deserve" love, eventually loses her mind after she experiences repeated violence at home, at school, and on the street.  These violences are all rooted in racism.  Pecola begins to believe the lie of racism: that to be black is to be "ugly," undeserving, and unloved.  It is Shirley Temple and the Mary Jane on the wrapper of the candy by that name who are the models of lovable girls in Pecola's world.

Pauline Puyat, a mixed blood Chippewa Indian, sees herself through the eyes of whites and thus learns to hate herself, desperately attempting to claim only her "half white."  She has a vision of Jesus who "tells" her that "despite (her) deceptive features, (she) was not one speck of Indian but wholly white.  He himself had dark hair although His eyes were blue as bottleglass, so I believed" (137).  Alienated from her culture, she joins a convent and, in addition to working much mischief within the Anishinabe community, she adopts an acetic way of life that becomes increasingly self-mutating. ...

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