Side is also white-centered, but Morrison deals with this

Side
by side with the invisibility of blacks in the framework of a white-centered
country, the strongly fixed value system has another great impact in The
Bluest Eye. Of course, the value system is also white-centered, but
Morrison deals with this issue using not the whole country but inside the black
community as the background. It is natural because the trigger for writing this
story was her experience in her elementary school days, when she was astonished
by her friend’s implicit desire caused by the white-centered value system even
though the friend herself was also black. She seems to have no intention to
just blame white people as the accused, and she rather leads her reader to
detect the responsibility of her fellow community members. She had the main
narrator of the story, Claudia, say, “it was the fault of the earth, the land,
of our town.”(p.206) The country America has a hierarchy, and Morrison tells us
the black community is also a hierarchical society. So this chapter focuses on
how the white-centered value system erodes the black community, and how each
character reacts to it under the categories of mulattos and blacks.

1.     
Black
characters:

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The
appearance of the McTeer’s house is old, cold, and green. In order to heat
their stove, they often go to the railroad tracks and pick up pieces of coal.
There are cracks in the windows of their house which they stuff with rags. Even
though Claudia is only 8-years-old, she knows that they belong to a minority in
both caste and class, and experience a “peripheral existence” (p.17) and she
has already learned how to deal with the situation. In these ways, the McTeer
family’s social class or economic background is not so very different from the
Breedlove family. Then what is the difference between the McTeer family and the
Breedlove family?

Claudia
and Frieda Mcteer have impulsive natures, they assert their beliefs rather than
fawning upon others’ fixed ideas. Claudia felt discomfort when she was given a
blue-eyed Baby Doll because if she tried to take the role as a mother of the
doll, it was so hard, sharp, and cold to hug or sleep with. However, she knew
that all the other people believed that the doll was exactly what she wanted.
So she was bewildered, frustrated, and tried to “examine it to see what it was
that all the world say was lovable.” (p.21)            She
broke the doll apart to discover why everyone says, “pretty” to the doll or
white girls but not to her.  When Claudia
and Frieda see that Pecola is bullied by nasty boys, they fight against the
boys without fear in a hand-to-hand battle, and then when they see Maureen
harass Pecola, they join forces against her. Even though they are astonished by
Maureen’s devastating confidence in her own predominance, their self-esteem
does not waver. They believe in their value standards, and their own worth, so
they try to analyze and fight against the absurd value standards of beauty and
justice. They do not like Saturdays because they feel miserable when they have
to take a bath. They were still in love with themselves at that time. “We felt
comfortable in our skins, admired our dirt, and could not understand this unworthiness.
Jealousy we understood and thought natural — a desire to have what somebody
else had; but envy was a strange, new feeling for us.” (p.74). This metaphor,
that they “admired their dirt,” is in perfect opposition to the cleanness
fetishism of Geraldine and Soaphead Church (both of them are mulattos).

The
appearance of the Breedloves’ house, which was an abandoned store, produced an
irritating and melancholic atmosphere, out of harmony with the neighborhood.
Their poverty was unremarkable among other black families, but their ugliness
was extreme. “It was as though some mysterious all-knowing master had given
each one a cloak of ugliness to wear, and they had each accepted it without
question,” (p.39) “Dealing with it each according to his way. Mrs. Breedlove
handled hers as an actor does a prop: for support of a role she frequently
imagined was hers — martyrdom. Sammy used his as a weapon to cause others
pain. Pecola hid behind hers.” (p.39)

Mrs.
Breedlove (Pauline) is a representative of ordinary black woman of those days,
but in comparison with Mrs.   McTeer, she
is the type who does not have a positive image of her own original identity,
and also failed to identify herself with sophisticated black people, or real
white people. This is symbolized by her handicapped foot, chipped teeth, and
the ill-suited urban-like make up and clothing, and, moreover, the reality that
she herself is not really interested in urban fashions. She just wants to feel
a sense of belonging to somewhere. She avoids facing reality in a constructive
manner, but sustains herself by a warped satisfaction of worth as a person. She
presumes she is not worthless but she is under an ordeal, and must withstand
the misfortune to reflect her devotion for God. However, her faith is warped so
she often needs to create artificial ordeals. When she first met with her
husband, Cholly, he was the first person to accept her total personality, and
even he frankly treated her handicapped foot as something to be admired. Those
days were the only time when she experienced real happiness, but after they
moved to an urban area, Cholly lost himself in the glitter of urban nights, and
Pauline was abandoned by him, and marginalized by the sophisticated black
people in the neighborhood. In order to earn their friendship, she frantically
tries to behave similar to them regardless of her own tastes. When she got
pregnant, she regained something of herself through her maternity and she
believed she could have something real to love and devote herself to. However,
her baby looked just like herself, it was natural. There was a great difference
from the world of Hollywood films which was the only consolation in her life.
She transferred the despair to her ordeal. Mrs. Breedlove often has severe
scuffles with her husband, Cholly, about domestic trivial things, and only
while fighting she felt her true self. While fighting she feels she is an
upright Christian, in a sense, so she needs Cholly’s sins. “Holding Cholly as a
model of sin and failure, she bore him like a crown of thorns, and her children
like a cross.” (p.127) Going to the church, and showing herself off as much
more religious and ethical than the other people who used to look down on her,
she exhibited her status in the black community. Then she found her worth as a
person in a white family’s house as a housekeeper.

Regarding
Pecola, Morrison responded in an interview with Robert Stepto in 1976, that she
wanted to have her as a “total and complete victim of whatever was around her.” 11 What did she mean by saying,
“victim of whatever was around her?” Morrison’s insight is in complete
agreement with the psychologist Frantz Fanon’s analysis: that his black
patients’ cases involving extreme inferiority complexes towards whites is ingrained
in the society which needs an underdog to sustain its stability and
superiority. 12 Morrison refers in a lecture
that sometimes people creates pariahs to establish their identity as members of
a community.