“The Bluest Eye: The Need for Racial Approbation.” In Toni Morrison's Developing Class Consciousness, pp. Selinsgrove, Mass.: Susquehanna University Press, 1991. In the following essay, Mbalia traces the narrative development of racism as the primary focus of The Bluest Eye in order to account for the novel's structural limitations.
In The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison's emphasis is on racism.
Specifically, she investigates the effects of the beauty standards of the dominant culture on the self-image of the African female adolescent.
The role of class, the primary form of exploitation experienced by African people that will become the focus of later works, is only relevant insofar as it exacerbates that self-image.
Here she would find her colors on the "silver screen".
She had a longing for these colors which was going to affect her life and the lives of her family until it destroys them, especially Pecola.From Pecola (162-163), ‘And all of our beauty, which was hers first and which she gave to us.All of us – all who knew her – felt so wholesome after we cleaned ourselves on her.Racism is a social construct; it can be learned and thus, internalised; it is part of an encompassing power dynamics that defied definition by any singular entity.Rather, racism is the collective impact of actions by numerous people, effects that reinforce and reverberate with one another such that racism perpetuates.It is cruelly ironic that various people around Pecola show contempt at her despite her being the source of their self-worth; this idea of scapegoating by different people is a central theme in The Bluest Eye.Through multiple narrators – each from a different social class – Morrison represents how pervasive scapegoating/racism is.Instead of reducing racism to mere stereotypes, through Morrison’s use of multiple narratives, we find out more about various aspects of racism – inter- and intra-racial racism, discrimination of whites against blacks, of fairer blacks against darker blacks and of male blacks against female blacks.This somewhat orderly hierarchy of discrimination shares the trait of one deriving a sense of superiority by the inferiority of another; one’s self-worth comes not from self-awareness but from the knowledge that one is better off than another.This omnipresent and multi-faceted nature of racism is particularly poignant in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye.The essay shall explicate one reason behind racism – the human nature to derive self-worth from putting someone else down – through analysing the use of multiple narrators; in other words, an attempt to handle not only the hows, but also the whys of racism.