Notes on The Bluest Eye Themes

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The Bluest Eye Topic Tracking: Self-Hatred

Self-Hatred 1: Claudia and Frieda stare at Rosemary Villanucci. Rosemary has what Claudia and Frieda want, things that white people have, such as bread and butter and a nice Buick car. Claudia and Frieda hate Rosemary because she stands for all of the things that Claudia and Frieda will never have nor be, specifically white. This forces a feeling of self-hatred for being black upon the girls.

Self-Hatred 2: Claudia receives a white baby doll for Christmas one year. Instead of adoring and cradling the new gift, as most other children would have done, Claudia, in a fit of rage, dismembered and destroyed the doll. She hated the doll's blue eyes and blonde hair staring back at her, reminding her of how different she looked from the doll. She knew that to destroy the doll was wrong, but she could not help it. The doll, so revered for its white established ideals of what beautiful was, made Claudia hate herself for being the complete opposite of those ideals.

Self-Hatred 3: Pecola is just as upset by her parents' fighting as is her brother, Sammy. He runs away sometimes, and Pecola often wonders why he never takes her with him. She secretly thinks that maybe if she were prettier, if she had blue eyes for example, then things would be different. People would see her differently, including her classmates and teachers, and she would even see herself differently. She would see herself as beautiful, instead of the ugly little girl she is disgusted with when she looks into the mirror.

Self-Hatred 4: When Pecola is walking down the street, she notices the dandelions. She thinks they are pretty, and wonders why everyone else sees them as merely weeds. She sympathizes with them. However, after her ugliness repulses the storeowner, Mr. Yacobowski, and Pecola starts to walk home, her feelings towards the same dandelions change. She now thinks they are ugly, and she is angered. They remind her of her own ugliness and how people think she is ugly. She hates herself for being so ugly and feelings of anger envelop her.

Self-Hatred 5: Pecola is walking home from school one day, when a group of schoolchildren (boys) surround her and make fun of her. They call her names and make fun of her family. It is out of their own hatred for themselves that they harass poor Pecola. They have issues with their own ugliness and blackness that force them to take it out on her. If they torment Pecola, then they might feel that they aren't so ugly or black, for here is a girl that is uglier and blacker than they are, and if they make fun of her, they in turn think they are putting themselves in a position of superiority over her. However, it is only an admittance of the insecurity they have about their own identities.

Self-Hatred 6: Mrs. Breedlove works for a wealthy white family, The Fishers, down by Lake Shore Park, a place where black people are not allowed. She idolizes this family and their white ways. She even adores their little blonde-haired, blue-eyed daughter. She treats the little girl better than she treats her own daughter, Pecola. All of this can be attributed to the fact that Mrs. Breedlove does not like herself nor the social position she has been placed into due to her blackness. She dislikes herself so much that she tries to adopt white ways. She even goes so far as to sort of pretend that their beautiful little daughter is her own daughter.

Self-Hatred 7: To occupy some of her time when she was a young woman, Pauline Breedlove frequently would go to the movies. She began to accept the Hollywood idealized representations of absolute beauty, such as Jean Harlow, Greta Garbo, and Ginger Rogers. She accepted these representations of beauty so much so that she began to judge beauty based on these standards. And because she saw herself as so far away from that scale of beauty, she began to hate herself.

Self-Hatred 8: There is a description of Soaphead Church's family background. Racially, he comes from a very mixed family. His mother was half-Chinese and his father was half-white and half-black. His extended family was mixed black and white. His family had the mindset that if they were as far away from their black roots as possible, then that would be a good thing, and a thing to strive for. They always stressed education, with the thought that if they were educated, they were closer to being "white" and farther away from their African roots.

Self-Hatred 9: Pecola now thinks she has the blue eyes she has always longed for. She hopes that they are the bluest eyes in the entire world. Pecola thinks that if she has blue eyes, then the world will see her differently. She wishes that they would all see her as a beautiful little girl, like all of the other little white girls Pecola has always wished she looked like (e.g. Shirley Temple). Her feelings of self-hatred have caused Pecola to desire something she will never truly have, blue eyes. Unfortunately, because of society and the media, Pecola is certain that without them, she will never be seen as beautiful, and therefore, cannot ever see her own life as beautiful. The pressures of society and her own self-hatred drive Pecola into a state of madness.

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