The Bluest Eye


Misdirection of Anger "Anger is better [than shame]. There is a sense of
being in anger. A reality of presence. An awareness of worth."(50) This is how
many of the blacks in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye felt. They faked love when
they felt powerless to hate, and destroyed what love they did have with anger.
The Bluest Eye shows the way that the blacks were compelled to place their
anger on their own families and on their own blackness instead of on the white
people who were the cause of their misery. In this manner, they kept their anger
circulating among themselves, in effect oppressing themselves, at the same time
they were being oppressed by the white people. Pecola Breedlove was a young
black girl, growing up in Lorain, Ohio in the early 1940's. Her life was one of the
most difficult in the novel, for she was almost totally alone. She suffered the
most because she had to withstand having others' anger dumped on her,
internalized this hate, and was unable to get angry herself. Over the course of
the novel, this anger destroys her from the inside. When Geraldine yells at her
to get out of her house, Pecola's eyes were fixed on the "pretty" lady and her
"pretty" house. Pecola does not stand up to Maureen Peal when she made fun of
her for seeing her dad naked but instead lets Freida and Claudia fight for her.
Instead of getting mad at Mr. Yacobowski for looking down on her, she directed
her anger toward the dandelions that she once thought were beautiful. The
dandelions also represent her view of her blackness, once she may have
thought that she was beautiful, but like the dandelions, she now follows the
majorities' view. However, "the anger will not hold"(50), and the feelings soon
gave way to shame. Pecola was the sad product of having others' anger placed
on her: "All of our waste we dumped on her and she absorbed. And all of our
beauty, which was hers first and which she gave to us"(205). The other black
people felt beautiful next to her ugliness, wholesome next to her uncleanness,
her poverty made them generous, her weakness made them strong, and her pain
made them happier. In effect, they were oppressing her the same way the whites
were oppressing them. When Pecola's father, Cholly Breedlove, was caught as
a teenager in a field with Darlene by two white men, "never did he once consider
directing his hatred toward the hunters"(150), rather her directed his hatred
towards the girl because hating the white men would "consume" him. He was
powerless against the white men and was unable to protect Darlene from them
as well. This caused his to hate her for being in the situation with him and for
realizing how powerless her really was. Cholly also felt that any misery his
daughter suffered was his fault, and looking in to Pecola's loving eyes angered
him because her wondered, "What could her do for her - ever? What give her?
What say to her?"(161) Cholly's failures led him to hate those that he failed, like
Darlene, and most of all his family. His self loathing and pain, all misdirected at
himself, his family, and blacks in general, all contributed to his ultimate failure,
his rape of his daughter. Pecola's mother, Polly Breedlove, also wrongly placed
her anger on her family. As a result of having a crippled foot, Polly had always
had a feeling of unworthiness and separateness. With her own children, she felt
emotionless, only able to express rage, "sometimes I'd catch myself hollering at
them and beating them, but I couldn't seem to stop"(124). She stopped taking
care of her own children and her own home and took care of a white family and
their home. She found praise, acceptance, power, and ultimately whiteness with
the Fisher family, and it is for these reasons that she stayed with them. "The
creditors and service people who humiliated her when she went to them on her
own behalf respected her, were even intimidated by her, when she spook for the
Fishers."(128) She had been deprived of such feeling from her family when
growing up and in turn deprived her own family of these same feelings. Polly
"held Cholly as a mode on sin and failure, she bore him like a crown of thorns,
and her children like a cross"(126). Pecola's friend Claudia McTeer is angry at
the beauty of whiteness and attempts to dismember white dolls to find where
their beauty lies. There is a sarcastic tone in her voice when she spoke of
having to be "worthy" to play