Literature Review of the Novel "The Bluest Eye": Theme of Societal Perceptions of Beauty and Innocence


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The novel The Bluest Eye, takes place shortly after the great depression ended. During this time, whiteness was the epitome of beauty; from the porcelain skin to the oceanic blue eyes. This absurd standard of refinement created destructive insecurities and self-loathing in those who fell short of the expectations of society, especially in the young impressionable minds of children. In The Bluest Eye, Morrison utilizes the afflictions and tribulations of youth the emphasize that societal perceptions of beauty and innocence is a stimulant for oppression, low self-esteem, and antipathy for oneself.

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Throughout The Bluest Eye, external beauty affects the self-esteem of almost every character because media outlets define it based on the biased white culture of the era. In The Bluest Eye Morrison states, ‘Adults, 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’, which sheds light on the epitome of beauty that the media creates. Claudia tries to reject the racially biased social norm of what is beautiful while others worship the . Morrison uses the racial tensions in American society in the 40s to illustrate the pressure that the blacks feel to meet the unobtainable societal standards of beauty. Pecola was born into an impoverished family and is immersed in the radical ideals of racial beauty.

Within her very home, she is treated atrociously. Her family’s own insecurities manifest themselves through physical and emotional abuse. This causes her to associate being loved and her self-worth with external appearances. ‘It had occurred to Pecola that if her eyes were different, that is to say, beautiful, she herself would be different’. Pecola thinks that her physical appearance is the reason that she is treated so horrendously. Pecola defines beauty as one who has blue eyes and only then can she transcend from her ugliness to live in a world where everything is easier, including the abusive behavior her parents exhibit. Since she doesn’t have blue eyes, she concludes that she deserves the hardship she endures from her community.

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