How does Toni Morrison show that “black is beautiful” in his book?
The Bluest Eye
One of the core ideas of the novel – the notion of beauty and its intrinsic characteristics – explores the dramatic effects that the conventional beauty standards may have upon the identity of an average African-American girl. Therefore, the writer manages to show three main ways “black beauty” can be expressed and admired.
Firstly, we need to focus on the obvious expression of beauty in terms of appearance. In fact, most of the characters are so emotionally impaired that they can hardly notice their own unique traits. However, deep inside, Pecola seems to realize that her appearance is not an objective reason for such global discrimination. Looking into her mirror, she aims to discover what makes her so ugly and, obviously, there are no other factors rather than prejudices and faulty standards. Naturally, she cannot possess different ideals of feminity if the whole world and even her mother make her believe she should respect hierarchy among people and promote inferiority and self-hatred (Sugiharti, 1999). However, the crucial moment comes when Claudia longs to ruin stereotypes and foresees the “black beauty” of Pecola’s unborn baby, as described by the author, having “two clean black eyes, the flared nose, kissing-thick lips, and the living, breathing silk of black skin. No synthetic yellow bangs suspended over marble-blue eyes, no pinched nose and bowline mouth” (Morrison, 2007, p. 190).
Secondly, the author proves that beauty is not just something you can see or have. On the contrary, it is what you are capable of. The girl who everyone considers to be unlovable struggles so hard that her persistence deserves admiration. Unfortunately, only Claudia sensed the real danger in following any standards at all and substituting values with mere compliance to norms. Therefore, although very insecure, her compassion and efforts to change Pecola’s future can be considered to be the first steps towards establishing fair ideals.
Last but not least, beauty is portrayed as inner power since despite being despised by people of a different race for no sensible reason other than her origin Pecola still wants to win their affection and approval. Indeed, she remains grateful for every single good gesture and cherishes all the joys of life that others take for granted: a pleasant conversation, kind treatment and support. Certainly, the girl’s world is absolutely devoid of sympathy and love, and, yet, she does not long for revenge, just for appreciation (Bring, 2005).
Taking everything into consideration, the most important messages the writer tries to convey are: to be your own self in order to be respected as well as to realize that beauty is a universal notion and it has millions of manifestations that can be appreciated only by the ones who are capable of love and understanding.
Bring, M. (2005). Racism within African American communities in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Paradise. Retieved from http://www.google.com.ua/url?url=http://epubl.ltu.se/1402-1773/2005/036/LTU-CUPP-05036-SE.pdf&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&sa=U&ved=0ahUKEwi4jZLswbrJAhWqvnIKHS3MC6sQFggZMAE&sig2=4nkqjnmo06HkXk7JeT9r1A&usg=AFQjCNHcQKkQSgDc93NOyjHRvzLwnakAkA
Morrison, T. (2007). The Bluest Eye. New York: Vintage Books.
Sugiharti, E. (1999). Racialised beauty: Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. Retrieved from http://ehlt.flinders.edu.au/projects/counterpoints/Proceedings2001/A14.htm
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