Morrison’s evaluative standards to interpret black life, Morrison

Morrison’sfather was a welder in a shipyard and her family was poor, especially duringthe Great Depression.

So the life of the Mcteer family in the novel is justlike her own childhood. As Michael Awkward linked the Mcteer family with NikkiGiovanni’s poem, “Nikki Rosa” 16as an example to express Claudia’s rejection of white evaluative standards tointerpret black life, Morrison herself recalls her childhood as a happy memory.She recalls the scene of her parents on their way home, hand in hand aftertheir farm work, or her mother going to bed with her father following hiscustom of taking a nap because he was doing three jobs during day and night. 17 And it is clear that she knowswhat will happen if she does not have such family ties.

So this chapteranalyzes how Morrison depicts the influence of the parental unit on eachcharacter in the novel.Whenchildren get cold, Mrs. McTeer directs a volley of curses at them, or shemisinterpret her daughters’ attendance on Pecola when she had her firstmenstruation as doing nasty things, and hit them with a stick. Mrs. McTeer isfar from the perfect or ideal mother. However, she lives honestly according toher beliefs based on her own value standards, so that her children do not feeluneasy concerning their lives or are distrustful.

Even though they aresometimes scolded due to false accusations, they maintained their innocencebecause they trust in their mother’s love. Claudia recollects the days when,”Love, thick and dark as Alaga syrup, eased up into that cracked window. Icould smell it – taste it – sweet, musty, with an edge of wintergreen in its base– everywhere in that house. So when I think of autumn, I think of somebody withhands who does not want me to die.” (p.12)Asa woman and as a mother, Mrs. Breedlove (Pauline) is depicted as a perfectcontrast to Mrs.

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Mcteer. The reason why she dwells upon her self-usefulness isthat she has been abandoned three times in her life. She has not been broughtup in circumstances like Geraldine (mulatto) who was always under parentalcontrol. However she was brought up with a feeling of being branded as worthlessin her family. She was born as the ninth child among eleven children, and maybeit was a natural consequence that she does not have the chance to gain theattention of her family very much. When she seriously hurt her foot in anaccident in her infancy, she was not treated properly, so that her foot nevercompletely healed, and she can not work normally. It may be fortune inmisfortune that there was no one in her life who mocks her way of walking, buteveryone’s handling her with kid gloves makes her feel marginalized andworthless. Since she does not want to think that the reason for herworthlessness is her personality, she presumes that the real cause stems fromher injured foot.

When she got married to Cholly and got pregnant, she regainedsomething of herself through her maternity and she believed she could havesomething real to love and devote herself to. However, she fails in the end.Morrisonalso gives an example of the influence of parents on their children in mulattofamilies. The reason for Soaphead Church’s being a “misanthrope” (p.164) andhaving cleanliness fetishism stems from his father’s control. His fatherrejected his innate nature. Since he has never been loved or accepted by hisfather, this caused his split personality. He has no confidence in himself.

Atthe same time the fetishism indicates his denial of his own roots, so itthrusts him into self- denial. As a consequence, even though he can get goodscores at school at first, he can not adjust to studying or to his job when itcomes to the point when he must really specialize. However, he once had thechance to regain his humanity when he fell in love with an energetic lady,Velma, who gave him the maternal love he needed. Meanwhile he was eager to berescued by her from his unnatural mental life. He was unable to discard hisfetishism enough for Velma to be able to accept him. He is bowed down byloneliness and grief, but his father tries to build him up by forcing him toget a much higher academic status while criticizing Velma’s genealogy.

Hishumanistic mental balance was complexly upset, and he completely lost theenergy to discover what to do by himself. At last, he is abandoned by his fatherwho was responsible for his indecisiveness and disabilities. The only thingleft for him to do was to just keep on living by playing whatever role otherpeople required of him.Ibelieve, Cholly will be the strongest example in showing the impact of parentalneglect. In The Bluest Eye, Morrison vividly depicts the antagonismbetween blacks, whites and mulattos.

However, we would do well not toregard Cholly as a representative of the black man’s stereotype. The situationof parents not knowing how to face child rearing perhaps stems not a littlefrom slavery. In the era of slavery, families are sold separately, or forced topropagate themselves regardless of their will like domestic animals. For a longtime, black people had been deprived of the choice to live according to theirown free will or fully develop their family ties.

They were often deprived ofthe knowledge of where their parents or relatives were. Regarding thisbackground, Cholly can be seen as a representative of this genealogy. In thisnovel, he seems to embody what it is like for a person to be abandoned by one’sparents, and it is a universal issue rather than a difficulty found only amongblack people. His father ran away from his mother before his birth, and he wasdiscarded on a rubbish heap within a few days of his birth by his mother.Cholly is the only one in this novel who was really deserted at birth. However,it is obvious and significant that his youth is depicted in a much morehumanistic light in comparison with Pauline, Pecola, Geraldine, and SoapheadChurch.

It is because he was brought up with love and care by his great-aunt.Even though he was not satisfied with her old appearance and unsophisticatedmanners, he loved and thanked her. He was a loveable boy with healthy emotionsand consideration for others. The reason why he really loved his grand-aunt,old Blue Jack, or temporarily his wife Pauline, his son Sammy, and his daughterPecola was that he was not raised like Geraldine who was forced to deny herroots, or like Pauline who was always treated like an absentee, or likeSoaphead Church who was physically disciplined to be a member of the elite as adescendant of nobility. He was raised with real love and care. However, hisgreat-aunt’s love was too different from both in aspects of age and sex toserve as a father figure. So he does not know how to handle his wife orchildren even though he loves them.

His first experience in having hispersonality attacked was when he was having his first sexual experience watchedby two white men pointing a gun at his back. To fight against white men whohave guns would mean instant death, so in order to protect his life andself-esteem, he transferred his failure and impotence to hatred toward thewitness, his first girl friend. However, he does not lose his controlcompletely then, and he decides to visit his father who he believes willunderstand his situation and feelings. The hope that his father will understandhim narrowly sustained his personality even though he knows that his fatherleft his mother before his birth. He is completely deprived of his self-controlwhen he is rebuffed by his father when he visits him, and the father ignoredhim. And this leaves him “dangerously free.”(p.

159) Just following his mood togo, he kills people, behaves gently or violently to women, or sometimes allowshimself to be henpecked by them. He has nothing to love, to be proud of, or tobe afraid of, even the death of people around him or his own death is nothingto him. If a person has something or someone to love, protect, or to be afraidof, even though it may be a trifle, that person’s behavior has limits in someways, but Cholly has nothing at all. Morrison depicts this process carefullyand vividly in great detail and proves that Cholly was far from an unnaturalman. Cholly’s longing and respect for his father is obvious in such descriptionsas: “Cholly had always thought of his father was a giant of a man,” “he wasstaring at a balding spot in his father’s head, which he suddenly wanted tostroke.” “He couldn’t say, ‘I’m your boy.’ That soundeddisrespectful.”(pp.

155-156) And that the fatal shock which destroys hispersonality resulting from his rejection by his father is embodied by thedepiction of his incontinence. In The Bluest Eye all the main charactersexcept the McTeer family are suppressed or marginalized by their parents insome ways, but Cholly is the only one who completely negated his existence. Itis very suggestive and ironic that his family name is Breedlove, even though hedoes not know how to breed children or how to breed love. Occasionally he feelslove for his wife and children, but the feeling of love for someone or need toprotect someone reminds him of his first failure and impotence toward the whitecentered society. He himself is aware of his responsibility for his daughter’smiserable life, and that triggers his frustration against his powerlessness. Itis tragic that Pecola really wanted to be loved by her father howeveroutrageous a man he is.

Pecolagrows up always watching her parents’ all-out battles, and she was too youngand powerless to understand, or join in or stop them. Her parents are up totheir ears in troubles, and have no capacity to think about their children. Soshe never had a full understanding of her value as their child or even itsexistence. So when she sees the battles between her parents, while her brother,Sammy eggs them on and joins in or sometimes just abandons them, Pecola is in adilemma of overwhelming desire that one would kill the other, or she herselfcould die, and prays to God, “Please make me disappear.

” (p.45) On the other hand,her real wish is to get someone’s attention and be loved by someone. Contraryto her wish, people paid attention to her only when they bully her, teasing herabout her appearance. So she assumes all her misery stems from her ugliness,and triesto figure out the reason for her ugliness by looking into a mirror forhours.

Every night, without fail, she prayed for blue eyes. This attitude is inperfect contrast to Claudia’s reaction to the blue-eyed Baby Doll. She wasalways desperate to find out how she can be loved by someone, and does not haveany concept of her own opinions, her value standards, or her justice. So whenClaudia asks Pecola if she would like some crackers she answers, “I don’t care”(p.19) and when Claudia asks Pecola where she wants to go or what she wants todo, she answers, “I don’t care. Anything you want.” (p.26) However, when shehad her first menstruation she asks Claudia and Frieda, “Is it true that I canhave a baby now? How do you do that? I mean, how do you get somebody to loveyou?” (p.

32) This question is the fixed expression of Pecola, and she asks thesame question to the three prostitutes who live in her neighborhood, “How comethey all love you?” (p.53) Pecola drinks three quarts of milk just because shewants to see Shirley Temple’s face on the cup wishing that she could be likeShirley. Pecola goes to Yacobowski’s Fresh Veg.

Meat and Sundries Store to buyMary Jane candies. For her, eating candies means eating blue eyes; througheating Mary Jane, she loves Mary Jane, and is becoming Mary Jane. Anothermeaning of Mary Jane is marijuana. Maybe this name symbolizes Pecola’s illusionthat she can only see while eating this candy.Itis obvious that the origin of the tragedy in The Bluest Eye stems fromthe white- centered system from the slavery period.

However, the story does notproject an image that all backs are unhappy because of whites. The title, andPecola’s wish to have blue eyes, represents not only her yearning for beauty,but her urgent prayer to be accepted and loved by someone. And this is theunvoiced wish of all the characters in the novel. Almost all the charactersexcept the McTeer family members are neglected by their parents or are forcedto have feelings of self denial.

And the parental unit affects the building upof their self-concept in both good ways and bad ways. The Bluest Eye isa novel which deals with racial issues and at the same time it is a tragedycaused by the chain reactions of self-loathing stemming from parentalinfluences. This idea makes this novel not merely a black novel but a universalnovel. Then how do people sustain their self esteem while having feelings ofself-loathing stemming from parental influences? The next chapter focuses onthis. They expel their self-loathing out in the form of anger toward someonewho acts as a mirror to reflect their alter ego.

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