In the novel, The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison, Claudia Macteer is depicted as the polar opposite of the novel’s main protagonist, Pecola Breedlove. Whilst Pecola is surrounded by constantly fighting parents and is even victimized by one of her parents, Claudia was able to grow up in a stable household with loving parents that support both of their children, Claudia and Frieda. Claudia also has a very strong demeanor; she often takes action in many of the plots throughout the novel.
Pecola, on the other hand, acts very child-like in some events in the novel and is very frail and closed in. In this novel, Morrison inserted a debate in which she never intended to write in the pages for us, as the readers, to figure out: a Nature vs Nurture debate. This is a debate between redeemed sociologists and psychologists around the world. One side of the debate believes that our genetic makeup predetermines not only our physical traits but also the behaviors in which we act out.
The other half then believes that the environment in which you grow up in and the people you surround yourself with have a big role in determining the person you become in life. The Bluest Eye proves the theory that states that we develop our traits and behavior simply based on the people we grow around and the environment we are raised in. This is proved by the contrasting ways in which Claudia and Pecola are raised and the people who raise them and the different attitudes and mannerisms of the two girls.
I believe that the characteristic traits we gain as we progress through life are acquired from our environment. The people we are subjected to be around, the places in which we call home, and the different attractions that decorate the world around us dictate who we become in life. For example, if you are brought up in a household full of hostile, aggressive people, you are more likely to follow in their poor foot steps. On the flip side, if we are brought up by encouraging, caring people, we will also share a calm demeanor with them. However, some disagree.
In the article, “There’s No Such Thing as an Etonian”, Throughout the novel, it is obvious that Claudia was born into a caring and loving family. The mother and father, from what we can tell (the father rarely utters a piece of dialogue at all), have a strong relationship. They both have the same view of how to raise their children and behave appropriately around one another. The mother and father not only care for one another, but they have a strong bond between themselves and their two children. The parents are also very protective of their daughters.
Their father is “a wolf killer turned hawk fighter” (Morrison 61). For example, in the beginning of the novel (Morrison 8-11) it is explained that the family has taken in a man by the name of Henry to live with them. The girls are excited when they meet him because he treats them like ordinary people, not a group of immature children. He is fun and plays games with them (magic tricks with change). However, Henry’s laid back and caring facade falters when he acts inappropriately towards Claudia’s sister, Frieda (Morrison 77).
When their father is informed of this by Frieda, he beats Henry and runs him out of their house with a gun, along with their neighbors. He is never heard from again. Though the girl’s’ mother can act less than motherly towards her children in some of her punishments, their parents mean well. It is obvious that their father and mother care for them and it is very prevalent in the way in which Claudia presents herself. Claudia also has a very high self esteem; she will not let the stigma of white beauty bother her dark complexion.
For example, when Claudia is given a baby doll with porcelain white skin, she acts in a way that is much different than the normal way a little girl would act when gifted with a baby doll. Thad only one desire: to dismember it. To see of what it was made, to discover the dearness, to find the beauty, the desirability that had escaped me, but apparently only me. Adults, older girls, shops, magazines, newspapers, window signs–all the world had agreed that a blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl child treasured. Morrison 15) This just proves the point in which Claudia just simply does not get the idea of only white women with baby blue eyes and straw colored hair are beautiful. She is beautiful too, with her dark skin and caramel eyes. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Pecola and her little brother, Sammy, have grown in a terrible living situation.
This is reflected in not only Pecola’s behavior, but also her brother. The entire family holds a strong distaste towards themselves. They feel the pressure of being a stark contrast from the desired appearances of others. Except for the father, Cholly, whose ugliness … Was behavior, the rest of the family–Mrs. Breedlove, Sammy Breedlove, and Pecola Breedlove–wore their ugliness, put it on, so to speak, although it did not belong to them. ” (Morrison 30). The Breedlove family buries into themselves, hiding their faces away from staring eyes. Pecola has also been raised by two parents, Mrs. Breedlove and Cholly, who are not quite as in love as they might have been when they first caught sight of each other. The children are almost always startled awake by the constant fighting (both verbally and physically)