Society Shapes a Person the Most (The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison)
- Category: Books,
- Words: 756 Pages: 3
- Published: 25 June 2021
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In life, the pressures of society to keep an image that is deemed ideal is stressful. This is no different in Toni Morrison’s prose The Bluest Eye. The Bluest Eye follows the story of a young black girl named Pecola, who longs for blue eyes, because she feels she would be treated better by her classmates, teachers, and society as a whole. She has two abusive parents, Cholly, her father, and Mrs. Breedlove, her mother. Cholly rapes Pecola and Pecola ends up having his baby. Along the way, Pecola encounters many different people; one who oppress and disgust her, like her teachers and her classmates, and the ones who welcome her into their lives, like the girls she lives with, Claudia and Frieda. Pecola meets a boy named Louis Junior and goes to his house to see his cat, where she encounters his mother, Geraldine. Geraldine is disgusted by Pecola and believes she is dirty. Geraldine is used to characterize the destructiveness of internalizing society’s racism, and displays that there are negative effects of conforming to society.
For one, Geraldine exemplifies the negative persona of black women who internalize racism, as she believes that white people are superior to black people. One example of this is the description Morrison gives to Geraldine and woman like her, and their views of “Funk” or passion, human nature, and emotions: “Wherever it erupts, this Funk, they wipe it away; where it crusts, they dissolve it; where it drips, flowers, or clings, they find a way to fight it until it dies” (83). Funk is something that these women like Geraldine do not want, as they believe that the funkiness is what makes them black. This demonstrates Geraldine’s internalized racism because she believes that being more orderly makes a person superior, because they are acting like what a white person would do. Furthermore, this shows that the effects of internalized racism leads to unnaturalness, and restraint for one’s passion, as Geraldine does not want to do anything that will make her seem emotional and the stereotypical African American in her society. Moreover, Geraldine teaches her son that “colored people were neat and quiet; n***ers were dirty and loud” (87). Geraldine believes that when an black person is dirty and loud, it makes them inferior to one that acts like a white. Geraldine’s internalized racism displays society’s belief that race is the main factor when determining one’s character even though one cannot control their skin color. It is clear that Geraldine functions as a character that demonstrates internalized racism and the effects on how one views themselves in society.
In addition, Geraldine’s character illustrates the negative effects of conforming to society. For instance, Geraldine does not have any intimacy with her husband, because she is too focused on her image, as “she stiffens when she feels one of her paper curlers coming undone from the activity of love” (84). Because she cares more about her cleanliness, she lacks passion and is almost reluctant to share love with her husband. Sexual intercourse is a form of physical love that two adults share, but with Geraldine, she represents how conforming to society can limit one’s character and joy during an act of love. Another example of this is when Morrison describes Geraldine’s actions as a mother, and she does not “talk to him, coo to him, or indulge him in kissing bouts, but she saw that every other desire was fulfilled” (86). Because of Geraldine’s strict belief of her role in society as a mother and wife, but she does not show any affection towards her baby, and lacks true care towards him. Conforming to society causes Geraldine to lose herself and her passions, because she does not act on her true beliefs and only bears children to meet society’s standards of a woman. Morrison uses Geraldine to display the negative effects of conforming to society, as Geraldine loses joy, passion for life, and herself, by trying to stay in societal norms.
Throughout life, there are always strong influences that are the basis of many people’s decisions. The strongest influence is societal norms. This is applicable in the novel The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Morrison paints the picture of the life of Pecola, and her desire for blue eyes as a young black girl. Pecola meets Geraldine in her life of finding herself, and Geraldine characterizes an important example of a certain type of woman in society that is highly influenced by it. Geraldine’s character functions as a result of a woman who internalizes racism and the belief of being more superior if she acts white, and she displays the negative effects like losing one’s passion to society’s expectations. Though Geraldine’s actions illustrate the superiority one can feel from internalized racism and her negative effects on life, Morrison uses her to demonstrate that becoming what society wants can cause one to leave behind their true self.