The Bluest Eye 1

The characters introduced in the “Autumn” section of Toni Morrison’s the Bluest Eye all deal with poverty in different ways. At times the bonds between a family help people get through the rough economic times and at other times, the rough times work to break the bonds of a family until each individual breaks down themselves. Claudia’s family in the first section completely differs in comparison to the Breedloves, in part due to this difference.

The Shirley Temple Claudia hates, with the Bojangles she loves.

First, I must make clear the fact that the poor socioeconomic standing of Claudia definitely has an adverse effect on her. At her young age in the beginning of the novel, she cannot quite comprehend why she has been placed in the life she is in. Her curiosity is made most obvious when she used all her might to “break off the tiny fingers, bend the flat feet, loosen the hair, twist the head around…” (The bluest eye 21) and completely dismember her christmas gift doll. As she states, the act itself was not the frightening thing; what was frightening was “the indifference with which [she] could have axed”(the bluest eye 22) an actual white girl. Claudia simply wants to know why things are the way they are. How does the white girl receive adoration? Why does she not live the same way? Why is she seen as repulsive and uninteresting? Despite her acknowledgment that her life is of the lower class, she finds happiness in her family.

Her mother is depicted as a strict, but at the same time, filled with love and laughter. Her discipline is reasonable, and her harshness fades away into the sound of peasant singing. Claudia leaves us no doubt that her family brings her happiness and importance as she wanted to ‘sit on a low stool in Big Mama’s kitchen with [her] lap full of lilacs and listen to Big Papa play his violin for [her]”(The Bluest Eye 22) for Christmas. Her new friend Pecola, however, was not raised under the same room for the earlier part of her life.

Pecola lived in a family where violence was the norm. The book makes me infer that Cholly’s horrible, drunken way of dealing with his situation led to the dysfunctional family that is the Breedloves. While the Sammy and Mrs. Breedlove hold anger, I feel that such anger is only a product of Cholly’s failures. The violence of Pecola’s home and the rejection of the outside world caused her an unbearable amount of pain. Her eyes were scarred with the sigh of her torn family-to the point where she desperately wished herself far away from her home, sadly realizing that “she could never get her eyes to disappear.” (The Bluest Eye 45) We can assume the broken marital relationship of Pecola’s parents builds her “deep feelings of abandonment, of the ultimate alientation, of being an orphan in the world.” (Anthology 252) In fact, Pecola finds herself a true orphan in Claudia’s home, but more importantly, her emotional state is no doubt fractured by her even more fractured family.

Morrison’s ability to create such a convincing cast of characters is extremely rare. It is almost impossible not sympathize with the situations of the young girls in the novel. She, “prevents the reader from escaping and denying the reality of life in such a family.”(Anthology 354) More than just filling the reader with sympathy for Claudia, Morrison also uses the story to prove the importance of family in all our lives and in every situation.

Published in: on April 1, 2010 at 5:02 am  Leave a Comment