Pauline Breedlove is not qualified to be a mother. Although she becomes the mother of two children, she is still a child who needs someone to love her. Instead of loving her children, she despises and rejects them. For example, when Pecola is born, she says, “But I knowed she was ugly. Head full of pretty hair, but Lord she was ugly” (126). Her hatred of blackness, as portrayed in the birth of Pecola, leads to disastrous results, causing her to destroy herself and others.
Through her portrayal of Pauline in The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison not only describes why racial minorities have a distorted view of their beauty, but also points out how dangerous this perception is, passing down self-loathing from generation to generation. Toni Morrison insists that race is not something to be ashamed of. In the novel’s afterword, Morrison writes, “The assertion of racial beauty was not a reaction to the self-mocking, humorous critique of cultural/racial foibles common in all groups, but against the damaging internalization of assumptions of immutable inferiority origination in an outside gaze” (212).
By contrasting Pauline’s unloving family with Claudia’s close-knit family, Morrison explains the right cognitions of black people themselves, as racial minorities. The reasons for Pauline’s inability to love and her tenacious pursuit for external beauty trace back a long way. Pauline is the ninth child of her family. She accidently stepped on a rusty nail when she was two years old. She blames her general feeling of separateness and unworthiness on her foot (111), which was the beginning of her self-hatred and distorted view of beauty and her race.
Although she needs her parents’ care, she is left alone, and when she grows up, she becomes the nurturer of her younger brothers. She enjoys taking care of them but trembles with loneliness, dreaming someone will rescue her from total lonesomeness. “Fantasies about men and love and touching were drawing her mind and hands away from her work (113). ” This line vividly exemplifies her fantasies for love. She meets Cholly Breedlove, and they soon fall in love. Her dependency on others, however, leads to tragedy.
Cholly and Pauline move to Lorain, Ohio, to find Cholly a job. Cholly quickly gets used to the new circumstances. On the other hand, Pauline is left alone again and is teased by other women because of her typical black appearance and deformity. She tries to be the same as the other women, but she fails. As a result, she becomes more dependent on her husband. However, Cholly becomes sick of her dependency because he does not have the heart to understand the reason she behaves that way. The way Pauline copes with her inner problem is quite distorted.
Since Pauline realizes that Cholly is not capable of fulfilling her desire for love, she goes to the movies to relieve her loneliness. By watching the movies, she absorbs the perspective of white beauty and starts to think that she and other blacks are ugly. The values portrayed in the movies are probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought (121). The situations depicted in the movies are unrealistic and would never occur in Pauline’s life, yet she starts to confuse reality and deny her own life.
Without noticing how dangerous it is, she begins to lose her black identity. This situation becomes exacerbated in her working for the Fishers. When Pecola accidentally spills the pie, Pauline does not console her, but instead, behaves more like the white Fisher girl’s mother. Pauline finds satisfaction in defining herself as an ideal servant for a wealthy white family, just like in the film Ethnic Notion (Director), which explains that blacks are happy to devote themselves to whites, and this leads to a deep contradiction.
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