The Bluest Eye (19, 20)
Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye is a novel set in Lorain, Ohio, shortly after the end of the Great Depression. Perhaps the most prevalent theme in The Bluest Eye is that of whiteness as the all-encompassing standard of beauty. Morrison used childhood experiences of several young black girls to show just how idealized whiteness was in American society.
As Claudia explained, Pecola loved to drink milk out of a cup that had Shirley Temple’s face printed on it. In fact, “Frieda and she had a loving conversation about how cu-ute Shirley Temple was” (19). The audience knew Pecola to be painfully self-conscious about her black skin, which she viewed as a mark of ugliness. Pecola clearly subscribed to the idea that whiteness meant goodness, so it came as no surprise that she believe Shirley Temple was “so cu-ute” and that she cherished a cup with her image. Morrison intentionally capitalized on that point by specifying that the Pecola liked to drink milk from the cup. The reader is made to believe that Pecola embraced the white face and white milk because they made her feel less stereotypically black.
Narrator Claudia MacTeer’s drastically different attitude towards whiteness was conveyed as well. Very early in the novel, Claudia explained that she was physically revolted by Raggedy Anne dolls. She claimed that “Adults, older girls, shops, magazines, newspapers, window signs-- all the world had agreed that a blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl child treasured” (20). What disgusted Claudia so much was the in which the dolls so clearly promoted the glorification of caucasian attributes. In fact, when Claudia received a similar doll as a Christmas gift, she ripped it apart in a fruitless search for the ‘beauty’ of the doll that was perceived by all but her. When Mrs. MacTeer discovered the remnants of the doll, she scolded he daughter for her actions. Mrs. MacTeer’s anger over the destruction of a white doll made...