One of the factors that influence the development of the personality is surrounding, along with inborn abilities and inheritance. In the novel “The Bluest Eye” Toni Morrison describes it very genuine. She shows how the surroundings may determine person’s present and future, its self-esteem and the perception of this world.
The most important part of surroundings is the family. The family has always influence, negative or positive and it does not matter if the parents spend much time with children or not they influence them all the way. Toni Morrison pays much attention to the family relations in this book taking the Breedlove family as the scene where all the stories and tragedies happen. The main conflict is rendered through Pecola and in her story the family relations play the dominate role. She is shaped by her family attitude to her and sees the world through the perspective of her family.
The relations between Pecola and her mother and their significance are described very well in this novel. It is very important for a girl how her parents accept her because it forms her attitude to herself. Depending on the family perception a girl may attain self-confidence or complexes.
The story of Pecola is very sad because she is abandoned by the society and by her family. Her mother Pauline Breedlove experienced the personal tragedy but she could not transform it into positive experience. First, she was discouraged by moving of the family from the South to Ohio, and lost her native nice people. Second, her husband became drunkard and abused her physically, so her family life broke apart and she found no better way than to escape from her real family and to find happiness in the white family. She hated her own family and took care of the Fisher family and there she found love and approval. She even called the white girl her white daughter and she really loved her, it was the escape from her cruel surrounding with the abusing husband and poor black kids. Her family was like the representative of the worst evil in this world, she accepted them as the reason of her unhappiness, I think.
It must be extremely hard to grow up in such situation where the mother who must be the source of care and love hates her family, it is a real tragedy, maybe, the worst in the life because while you face tragedies as an adult you can somehow overcome them, but when you face such tragedy as a child then life seems to have no way out because a child is born into this problem and he cannot even imagine that there can be some other way of life.
That is why the story of Pecola is especially tragic and touching. She is a nice girl with a good heart but her surroundings made her abandoned, depressed and in the end insane. It is especially sad because it is hard to find a guilty one in this story. That is where the genius of Morrison’s realism manifests itself. I cannot call Pauline Breedlove guilty because she is a victim of her surrounding as well as Pecola though as adult she could take another way and make good out of her personal bad but she did not have enough wisdom and strength to do it. So she just poured all her dissatisfaction and unhappiness on her family.
I think, one more thing that made the relations between Pecola and her mother was the behavior of Cholly, Pecola’s father. He was oppressed by his situation and he gave in. But with his anger and protest could not change the things in the better way. To my mind, the fact that he abused his daughter sexually destroyed not only his relations with Pauline but also relations between Pecola and her mother. It is difficult for the mother to have her daughter abused by the father, and the complex of negative feelings appears that are hard to define. I think it broke the inner world of Pecola and destroyed completely her relations with her mother.
The main problem of the story is that Pecola thinks she is ugly and wants to get blue eyes that would make her beautiful. She hates her skin because it makes her uglier and she finds the standard of beauty in white girls, particularly in the blue eyes. It is so touching as she longs not just for blue but for the bluest eyes and even prays every night to wake up next morning with blue eyes. It is funny and extremely sad at the same time. I think, this idea was also influenced by her mother, though subtle and not evident. Her mother hated her children and considered them ugly. And she loved her white daughter as she calls her, even more than her real daughter. In the episode where Pecola spills the hot cobbler and almost burns herself her mother is focused only on the white girl and worries if nothing happened to her. It can make any child insane. Though she hides her depression it turns out in envy and desire to become beautiful so that everybody will love her and everything will change.
It is really touching how she believes that if she becomes beautiful the situation will change and the things will go better for everyone: for her father and mother, for her approval at school. And it is extremely sad that she puts the whole guilt on her appearance. For her the world picture is presented through opposition beauty – ugliness. Everything beautiful is good and worthy in itself and everything ugly represents the evil. It is also sad that she cannot notice inner beauty, that she has such a stereotype that the black cannot be beautiful.
This stereotype is also produces by her mother who gets her ideas from nice movies where all the good heroes are white and beautiful, and thus she influences the Pecola’s understanding of beauty.
To my mind, the tragedy of blue eyes has in its roots the attitude of the mother. Being rejected by her mother Pecola has no more home in this world and that is why she creates her own world of fantasy, with her dreams of beauty, with communicating with the invisible friend. She believes she got blue eyes by the promise of Sophead Church and goes insane. This is her way of defense from cruelty of this world, this is her escape and her peace.
Through the tragedy of mother – daughter relations in “The bluest eye” Toni Morrison shows the main tragedies of the life: desire for approval and love, destructive power of rejection, the importance of relations. The conclusion can be next: we always influence each other willingly or unwillingly, and the greatest influence happens in the family life. This forms our life and self-esteem. Thus everyone is responsible for the people he is surrounded with. And these reciprocal relations form our attitudes and the world around us.
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