Reflections of Toni Morrison’s novel, The Bluest Eye, from the outset forces one to be swallowed up in diverse pools of abuse, neglect and violence from beginning to end. The novel is a sad revelation of sexual abuse, lack of love and acceptance. More importantly, the poor depiction of role models, support of family, community and values, all of which play a major role in the cause and effect of self-esteem and self-acceptance.
Unbeknownst to the reader, Morrison has immediately exposed you to the dysfunctional chaos of the protagonist. As Joseph Aaron Freidman cites, “Morrison begins the novel with reference to the “Dick and Jane” reading primer. As the story progresses, Morrison repeats the passage from the primer without punctuation, then without spacing between the words. What this shows is that while the words remain the same in the passage, there are missing elements, creating a dysfunction of sorts.” Debra T. Werrlein, further points out, “Toni Morrison challenges` America’s complacent belief in its benevolent self-image through representations of children who experience race, class and gender oppressions.” Pecola is not the most beautiful girl you will meet, unfortunately, the entire family is not that pleasant to look upon. Her family is the definition and pure manifestation of dysfunction. Her brother Sammy believes he is ugly due to the darkness of his skin complexion. As an escape from the physical abuse demonstrated regularly by his parents he is rarely home Pecola’s parent’s The Breedloves often fight. Polly, Pecola’s mother, also known as Pauline is born with a foot handicap which contributes to her low self-esteem. She shows Pecola little to no affection. Cholly, her father, is an alcoholic, rapes and impregnates her.
Pecola is obsessed with getting herself a pair of blue eyes. “Each night, without fail, she prayed for blue eyes” (46). She believes this will change her life and make her beautiful. She loves and adores Shirley Temple. One of Pecola’s favorite things to eat is Mary Jane candy. “To Pecola she eats the candy and its sweetness is good. To eat the candy is to somehow eat the eyes, eat Mary Jane. Love Mary Jane. Be Mary Jane.”(50). Pencola is bought to the MacTeers after her father burns the house down. She is given what Mrs. MacTeers regard as the bare necessities; food, clothing and shelter; that was all she had the strength to provide for her own two daughters. Pecola sent Mrs. Macteer into a rage on one occasion because she drank all the milk, three quarts to be exact, just so that she could drink from a Shirley Temple cup that was in the home. I believe drinking the “white” milk from that particular cup was symbolic of her trying to ingest “white beauty.”
Pecola displays so much displeasure in her appearance. It is such a shame that a child is shunned not only by her family but society as well. She is despised by her teachers and ostracized pretty much by the community. The shame of rape and abuse inflicted on her by her father is appalling to say the least. How else could this child feel when she does not have the trust and support of her own mother. She really did not have any type of a support system except for Claudia and Frieda MacTeer. Pauline’s personal demons and low self-esteem were indicative of why she could not overcome her own insecurities, which contributes to the lack of love and attention resulting in the abuse of Pecola.
As you read through the novel, not only are we dealing with sexual abuse and violence of the protagonist, we get a sneak peek into the life of her father Cholly The abuse Pecola suffered at his hand is a direct result of the abuse inflicted upon him as a child. Cholly’s low self-esteem and lack of love as a child was clearly an antecedent to Pecola’s abuse. Cautiously sympathizing with Cholly, one should do not confuse emotions on the matter, however; be it