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    Quest For Personal Identity In Toni Morrisons The Essay

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    Bluest Eye

    Post World War I, many new opportunities were given to the growing and

    expanding group of African Americans living in the North. Almost 500,00

    African Americans moved to the northern states between 1910 and 1920. This

    was the beginning of a continuing migration northward. More than 1,500,000

    blacks went north in the 1930’s and 2,500,00 in the 1940’s. Life in the

    North was very hard for African Americans.

    Race riots, limited housing

    resulting in slum housing, and restricted job opportunities were only a few

    of the many hardships that the African American people had to face at this

    time. Families often had to separate, social agencies were overcrowded with

    people that all needed help, crime rates increased and many other resulting

    problems ensued. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison takes place during this

    time period. A main theme in this novel is the “quest for individual

    identity and the influences of the family and community in that quest”

    (Trescott). This theme is present throughout the novel and evident in many

    of the characters. Pecola Breedlove, Cholly Breedlove, and Pauline

    Breedlove and are all embodiments of this quest for identity, as well as

    symbols of the quest of many of the Black northern newcomers of that time.

    The Breedlove family is a group of people under the same roof, a family by

    name only. Cholly (the father) is a constantly drunk and abusive man. His

    abusive manner is apparent towards his wife Pauline physically and towards

    his daughter Pecola sexually. Pauline is a “mammy” to a white family and

    continues to favor them over her biological family. Pecola is a little black

    girl with low self esteem. The world has led her to believe that she is ugly

    and that the epitome of “beautiful” requires blue eyes.

    Therefore every

    night she prays that she will wake up with blue eyes.

    Brought up as a poor unwanted girl, Pecola Breedlove desires the acceptance

    and love of society. The image of “Shirley Temple beauty” surrounds her. In

    her mind, if she was to be beautiful, people would finally love and accept

    her. The idea that blue eyes are a necessity for beauty has been imprinted on

    Pecola her whole life. “If I looked different, beautiful, maybe Cholly

    would be different, and Mrs.

    Breedlove too. Maybe they would say, ‘Why look

    at pretty eyed Pecola. We mustn’t do bad things in front of those pretty

    blue eyes’; (Morrison 46). Many people have helped imprint this ideal of

    beauty on her. Mr. Yacowbski as a symbol for the rest of society’s norm,

    treats her as if she were invisible.

    “He does not see her, because for him

    there is nothing to see. How can a fifty-two-year-old white immigrant

    storekeeper… see a little black girl?” (Morrison 48). Her classmates also

    have an effect on her.

    They seem to think that because she is not beautiful,

    she is not worth anything except as the focal point of their mockery. “Black

    e mo. Black e mo. Yadaddsleepsnekked. Black e mo black e mo ya dadd sleeps

    nekked. Black e mo.

    ..” (Morrison 65). Shouted by her classmates on such a

    regular basis, this scorn seemed not to penetrate anymore. As if it were not

    bad enough being ridiculed by children her own age, adults also had to mock

    her. Geraldine, a colored woman, who refused to tolerate “niggers”, happened

    to walk in while Pecola was in her house.

    “‘Get out,’ she said her voice

    quiet. ‘You nasty little black bitch. Get out of my house'” (Morrison 92). By

    having an adult point out to her that she really was a “nasty” little girl,

    it seems all the more true. Pecola was never able to get away from this kind

    of ridicule.

    At home she was put through the same thing, if not worse because her family

    members were the ones who were supposed to love her.

    Her mother was not able

    conceal her obvious affection towards a white girl over her. One day as

    Pecola was visiting her mother at the home where she is working, Pecola

    accidentally knocked over a blueberry pie. Obviously burned by the hot

    pastry, her mother completely ignored Pecola’s feelings of pain and instead

    tended to the comforting of her white ;daughter;. ;’Crazy foo…

    my floor,

    mess …look what you…

    get on out…crazy…

    crazy…my floor , my floor…


    Her words were hotter and darker than the smoking berries. The little white

    girl in pink started to cry. Mrs. Breedlove turned to her. ‘Hush, baby, hush.

    Don’t cry .

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    Quest For Personal Identity In Toni Morrisons The Essay. (2019, Feb 16). Retrieved from

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