Beauty in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye

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Beauty; such a simple word holds incredibly complex meaning. What exactly is beauty? Is it established in one’s appearance? Who decides the definition? There are infinite responses to these questions. Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye has given me an entire new outlook on this issue. Morrison’s words force the reader to see through the eyes of African Americans, particularly a young girl. Eleven year-old Pecola Breedlove is driven to the brink of insanity due to her unattainable desire to possess admirable beauty. She wholeheartedly believes if she is beautiful physically then she will be happy. She also believes if she is beautiful she will no longer feel pain, from unloving family members or peers. As the novel progressed, I felt as though I could truly understand the humiliation, suffering, and heartache Pecola and other African Americans, of the time, experienced. Pecola desperately wants to be beautiful. She has a dangerously poor self-image and is thus obsessed with the desire to obtain blue eyes. “It occurred to Pecola some time ago that if her eyes, those eyes that held the pictures, and knew the sights—if those eyes of hers were different, that is to say, beautiful, she herself would be different” (Morrison, 46). Pecola fervently prays for the impossible. She attributes the only solution to improve her life with the physical change of her eye color. Pecola has developed this perception of beauty from the idolized objects in her life. In one instance, she is given a cup with a picture of Shirley Temple on it to drink out of. “She was a long time with the milk, and gazed fondly at the silhouette of Shirley Temple’s dimpled face” (Morrison, 19). Shirley Temple is an icon; she is an example of a pretty young girl in society. Pecola observes that blonde-haired, blue-eyed children are the most attractive, and in turn happiest. She desperately

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