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    The Subject of Projected Reification in The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

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    Projected reification is when an individual puts onto others a sort of hate that they have for themselves. One cannot constantly live hating themselves; to overcome that, they allow it to radiate around them. This is generally demonstrated as the creation of stereotypes. Projected reification follows a gradual course, starting with self-reification, and if severe enough, ending with rage and violence. The Bluest Eye provides the best example of such a process with the actions and thoughts of both Geraldine and her son, Junior.

    Geraldine is described as one of the more well-off African American girls. She grew up in a higher end neighborhood, with nice things and an easier life than the less privileges girls. Her, and others like her, were seen as sweet and innocent, always modest and prepared. Since she was a girl, she was told to always get rid of the “Funk” which was associated with the others, never to belong in her world.

    The process of her projected reification is explained in a few short pages, but covers the entirety of her life. She detaches herself from her husband, wanting to be in her own moments, alone, and dreading the ones in which she isn’t, especially the times when they make love. Geraldine thinks of other things and wanting it to end quickly. When she has a child, the same sorts of events occur. She only tends to the child’s physical needs, leaving out the emotional ones. The only time she allows herself to feel anything is with her cat. She treats it with much more affection than her husband or child.

    Eventually her boy, Junior, understands this, and proceeds to take out his rage for his mother, onto the cat. He pulls numerous stunts to injure or discomfort the cat, but it seems to be more counterproductive, for whenever the cat is abused, Geraldine is right there to give it more attention, comfort it and bring it back to health. This projected hate increases to a near death of the cat. However, Junior has other means of projecting his anger.

    Geraldine had instilled in him the difference between black people (them) and niggers (the lesser of them). She only allowed him to play with the white kids, which limited Junior’s playing. He longed to play with the rowdy boys, to roll around in dirt and embrace his boyhood. With that avenue cut off, he sought to picking on girls, enjoying the way they ran away in fear, but still lonely. One day he executed a plan, which brought one little black girl into his house. When his mother had found out that she was the supposed cause of her cat’s death, she responded with a nasty remark and told her to get out of her home. This demonstrated Geraldine’s hatred, still for the little girls in torn dresses, with ratty hair and unclean faces.

    Although there are exceedingly more examples of projected reification, and its process, within The Bluest Eye, the dynamics of and between Geraldine and her son, Junior, are the most prominent. Geraldine projects her indifference of the lower half of her culture onto her family, and her hate onto those who live it. Junior projects his hate of his mother onto the cat and those he is forbid to play with, limiting his childhood development.

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    The Subject of Projected Reification in The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. (2022, Dec 20). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/the-subject-of-projected-reification-in-the-bluest-eye-by-toni-morrison/

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