A good book is one that you cannot quit thinking about. For days after you finish it, you will catch yourself daydreaming about it. That is what The Bluest Eye did to me. I can’t say that I liked the novel, because I didn’t. It left me with an empty, horrified feeling in the pit of my stomach; a realization of how harsh the world can be. I believe that this was Toni Morrison’s goal for this book. She didn’t want me to feel all warm and cozy when I finished. She didn’t want me to like’ The Bluest Eye; she wanted me to learn from it.
I learned about a child’s understanding, how people can react differently to a harsh environment, the importance of white symbols in a black girls life, and what could possess adults to do horrible things to helpless children. In short, I learned about the world. Claudia narrated most of the book, though the story is mainly about Pecola. Claudia and her sister, Fridea, are, in all visible ways, exactly like Pecola. They are poor, black girls in a world where only white is beautiful and good.
The difference is that Claudia and Fridea could ignore society and still love themselves, but Pecola felt that she was worthless because of her black features. The world around Claudia, Fridea, and Pecola is filled with symbols of whiteness. The first thing that is brought to our attention is the elementary school readers, where the main characters are Dick and Jane. Dick and Jane are perfect white children and they live in a perfect, white, cheery, loving, world. Morrison concentrates on this at the beginning of every chapter to bring focus on the life that Pecola wants to live.
This establishes the theme of white domination over the culture. Pecola worshipped Shirley Temple. While she was at the Macteer’s she couldn’t get enough white milk, which she drank out of a Shirley Temple cup. She also loved Mary Jane candies because “Each pale yellow wrapper had a picture on it. A picture of little Mary Jane, for whom the candy is named. Smiling white face. Blond hair in gentle disarray, blue eyes looking at her out of a world of clean comfort. The eyes are petulant, mischievous. To Pecola they are simply pretty. She eats the candy, and its sweetness is good.
To eat the candy is somehow to eat the eyes, eat Mary Jane. Love Mary Jane. Be Mary Jane. Three pennies had bought her nine lovely orgasms with Mary Jane. Lovely Mary Jane for whom the candy is named. ” (Morrison 50) At face value this paragraph seems to be depicting Mary Jane’s life as one that Pecola should model hers after. It emphasizes that a candy is named after her, as if she, because of her white beauty, can candy coat the world and make it happy. It also talks about her “world of clean comfort. ” This description of Mary Jane’s world is what Pecola sees Mary Jane as.
Clean, meaning pure, innocent and good is what Pecola wants to be, but because of her black features she doesn’t think she can. She believes that having blue eyes will give her that ability and then her life will be comfortable, just like Mary Jane’s. At a closer look the reader will notice the derogatory terms that describe Mary Jane; it describes her as little’ which can simply mean small, but can also mean unimportant or petty. The description of her eyes, the ones that Pecola admires more than anything, is also not favorable.
The color blue represents depression or profanity. Mary Jane’s blue eyes are said to be petulant and mischievous. Petulant means peevish or huffy and mischievous means injurious or annoying. This seems to be saying that Mary Jane is a brat. In this description Morrison is pointing out that in society the character of a person is not important. It is their outward appearance that makes them sweet or appealing. There are also many sexual references in this paragraph. Pecola’s obsession with Mary Jane is shown in the repetition at the end of the first paragraph.
She eats the candy and its sweetness is good. To eat the candy is to somehow eat the eyes, eat Mary Jane. Love Mary Jane. Be Mary Jane. ” She loves the image of whiteness that Mary Jane represents, which is the only love she has been able to find in her life. She believes that if she had blue eyes like Mary Jane she would be sweet and good, just like she thinks Mary Jane is. The second paragraph says, “Three pennies bought her nine lovely orgasms with Mary Jane. ” In a figurative sense Pecola is expressing a delusional and misguided ecstasy with the Mary Jane candy.
Therefore it is interesting that Mary Jane is a slang term for marijuana, an illegal drug that induces artificial happiness. However, in a literal sense an orgasm is an extreme fit or sexual peak. These misplaced sexual feelings foreshadow Pecola’s father raping her. Through studying this paragraph a reader can get insight to exactly what Pecola is feeling throughout the entire book. Her parents have given her little attention throughout her life and they always made her feel inadequate and ugly. She feels that if she had Mary Jane’s blue eyes she would be pretty and her parents would love her.