Beauty; such a simple word holds incredibly complex meaning. What exactly is beauty? Is it established in ones appearance? Who decides the definition? There are infinite responses to these questions. Toni Morrisons The Bluest Eye has given me an entire new outlook on this issue. Morrisons 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 sightsif 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 Temples 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 wants to be equally as pleasing to look at because she wants to be happy and live a good life. It hurt me to see this distorted view of beauty Pecola has. It is further heart-wrenching that her parents have never given her affection or adoration.
Pecola does not know what it feels like to be loved. Her parents barely accept her let alone love her. Much of Pecolas self-hatred stems from her cowardly parents. Through this, Pecola hangs onto her wish for blue eyes. She believes her family will be proud of her if she is beautiful. She thinks it will help her family to behave nicer and more respectably in front of her. If she looked different, beautiful, maybe Cholly would be different, and Mrs. Breedlove too. Maybe theyd say, Why, look at pretty-eyed Pecola. We mustnt do bad things in front of those pretty eyes (Morrison, 46). In this way she will be shielded from grief. Pecola is constantly punished, beaten, and even raped in her own household. If she is granted blue eyes she assumes those horrible acts will be erased from her life. All the while, she does not know what she has done wrong to deserve such torment and feelings of worthlessness. Pecolas only hope is that having blue eyes will stop this persecution.
Bullying tends to be a part of every childs early years. However, what many of us do not realize is the extent to which others are mistreated simply due to the color of their skin. Pecola feels that by receiving blue eyes she will look more like her peers. Blue eyes are her window to popularity and adequacy. She longs to gain respect, not only of other children, but also adults in her town.
To be beautiful is to be perfect. This obviously false statement rings true to many children adjusting their views of the world. Beauty is not a single achievable goal. This is why it is impossible to ever attain ultimate beauty. Beauty is a makeup of countless things. No one human, animal, plant, or object can contain full beauty. It is a very difficult concept for many to grasp. Pecola battles a continuous struggle with her confidence. Morrison precisely portrays the measures people are willing to go, the sacrifices they are willing to make, all for happiness. Beauty does not equal happiness. This is the dangerous misperception many people over time have held. The Bluest Eye has given me an incredible view point. I felt I could nearly taste the pains Pecola endured.