Toni Morrison Character Analysis

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However, not all characters in the novel aspire to this “white ideal” of beauty. The contrast between Claudia and Pecola is the opposition of two points of view within the same gender, race and social economic position. Although Toni Morrison wrote the novel in the 1970,’s, the action takes place during the 1940’s with flashbacks to the childhood of many of the characters, portraying a time of change for the United States and the Black community in particular. As mentioned in the paper A time of Great Possibility “Between 1905 and the 1940, the development of African American teachers’ organizations, teacher training and the resulting increased quality of instruction in the classroom, had the effect of expanding the possibilities for African…show more content…
From an ethnic point of view the standard of beauty is related to White race and it prevents African-Americans to recognize beauty in their own race, thus making them invisible. The message is not only aesthetic, it implies the superiority of one race over the other, Black means invisibility and White is power. Therefore, most of the people in the novel identify with this ideal in order to “be” noticed, to become someone. African-American women turn to the movies for role models to follow, the young girls with Shirley Temple who although being white, dances with “Bojangles” a black man. Their mothers also copy white movie stars hairstyle and makeup and turn to them seeking a role model of beauty and happy life. For example Pauline Breedlove’s experience at the movies “The onliest time I be happy seem like was when I was in the picture show.” (123) She explains that after the lights were cut off and “everything be black. Then the screen would light up, and I’d move right on in them pictures.” (123) making an analogy with the darkness of her life and how the movie transports her to an idyllic White world where “ White men taking such good care of they women, and they all dressed up in big clean houses with the bathtubs right in the same room with the toilet.” (123) The perfect life she finds at the Fisher’s house. This perception of beauty and happiness is transferred to her daughter. Pauline describes…show more content…
Although in The Bluest Eye Morrison examines the concept of beauty and identity in African-Americans of the 1940’s presenting the lives of two young girls as contrasting characters using symbolic elements, the novel remains up to date. Through the realistic description of the different households, Morrison goes beyond the socioeconomic status and uses this “houses” to depict the emotional situations and values of the characters that inhabit them; these descriptions also mark the differences between the two characters. Pecola Breedlove’s house is miserable and decrepit just like the Breedlove family. Mrs Breedlove prefers the house and the family she works for her over her own. In contrast, Claudia MacTeer’s house may have structural problems, with drafts and humidity, but according to Claudia’s recall, her mothers takes care of the house and of them, it is filled with love symbolizing her family 's unity. The theme of identity related to the white standard ideal of beauty is presented in the novel as the reason for African-Americans, to symbolically lose their minds, like Pecola, trying to conform to that standard. Shirley Temple represents this white ideal, which Pecola longs to achieve and Claudia despises. This society discriminates people because of the colour of their skin and makes them invisible, eventually the only way to be someone and achieve happiness is that safe place of
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