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Impact of Beauty Standards of White Society

In her novel The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison tells her story through the eyes of an eleven-year-old black girl, Claudia McTeer. The issues raised in the novel address questions bout beauty and its meaning and about the consequences of human actions. The child's point of view illustrates the action, but the book is not entirely in the first-person. Instead, it has inter-chapters in the author's voice which allow the omniscient author to provide commentary and to reveal information not known to the child who narrates the rest of the book. Pecola Breedlove would change her physical characteristics if she could and does change those she can in order to reflect the idea of beauty held by white society. In so doing, she denies her blackness, her heritage, her reality and descends into madness. Her story is presented in terms of family breakdown, self-destruction, and the fusion of sex and racism which Morrison sees as characteristic of American society.

The story is about the Breedlove family, living in Lorain, Ohio in the late 1930s, near the end of the Great Depression. Cholly is the father, Pauline the mother, Sammy the son, and Pecola the girl who serves as the center of this novel, the friend of Claudia who is also the subject of greatest interest to Claudia. The girl is reaching the age where she is trying to create an identity for herself, but this is made more difficult by the racist environment in which the girl lives. The irony is that for her, discrimination comes not just from white society but from other blacks because of the color of her skin--she is too dark in a world where beauty is measured more and more by lightness. Today, the reverse might be true as those who are blackest are considered the most truly black, but in the 1930s it as a sign of inferiority. Her skin color raises issues of beauty for the girl, for she is seen as and treated as ugly by other blacks. She comes to believe that she can change her...

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Impact of Beauty Standards of White Society. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:09, April 21, 2019, from