Cultural Confrontation In Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye

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Toni Morrison’s creative rigour, her intellectual and critical depth and her prophetic vision of the role of literature in interpreting the African American experience in the United States are unsurpassed. With her androgynous literary voice she narrates the dark truths about black life. The anthropologist in her formatted her creative writings in a progressive sequence depicting the complexity of black life in multicolors. Black people are aggressive, innovative and creative, said Morrison in one of her interviews. Carrying the same legacy she is explorative and sometimes even radical in her characterization and thus, emerged her atypical women characters. They are not just reflecting the plight and protest but standing didactic in one-way…show more content…
Morrison is one among them, yet stands unique in her treatment. Though the confrontation is between white civilization and black culture, Morrison never made a white man the villain in her works. She simply ignored them like a post-colonial writer from Africa and Asia. She focused her attention not on the white characters forcing direct authority, but on the black characters’ troubled psyche and its effect on their behaviour within the context of oppression. In her first novel, The Bluest Eye, we find a scene where a black mother, Pauline, slaps her own black child to pacify a white child. That narration continues in her next novel Sula. Even though there are no white characters in Sula, Morrison made Sula adopt the vagaries of white life and she comes back to Bottom like a typhoon. Her arrival coincides with the death of robins and her presence creates a whirlpool of problems to serene Nel and her family. Elizabeth Janeway(p 127 thesis) aptly says that ‘Morrison’s stunning insight reveals the disrupted emotions produced by living in a world where white standards and goals are presented to blacks as uniquely important and at the same time, impossible for them to…show more content…
Nel follows a culturally defined path and becomes a wife, mother, good woman of church, much like her mother Helene, who is an impressive woman in Madallion as wife of a seaman. Helene is a pretty daughter of a Creole whore in New Orleans. She is protected from the shadows of red shutters by her grandmother who counsels her ‘to be constantly on guard for any sign of her mother’s wild blood.’ Acting from this fear Helene stifles the assertive development of her daughter’s self. Under her orderliness Nel becomes obedient, polite and conventional. But returning from her grandmother’s funeral, Nel witnesses her mother cringing before a white railway conductor, under the disgusted, scorn filled impotent eyes of a group of black soldiers. Haunted by this experience she becomes restless and sleepless and suddenly discovers her ‘self,’- “ I’m me, I’m not their daughter. I’m not Nel. I’m me. Me.”(p 28) Unable to sustain this self definition alone, she needs a friend to complement her and that friend is none other than much less conventional

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