White Oppression and Black Resistance in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye

MHD Noor Al-Abbood

Abstract


Many critical interpretations of Morrison’s The Bluest Eye are driven by the belief that the novel pessimistically depicts an African American community so helplessly captivated by an insidious white aesthetic ideology that it is incapable of resistance, self-regeneration, or change. Pointing out the flawed premises of these readings, this article argues that the novel presents rather an effective example of resistance to the dominant white ideology thematically and formally. Morrison’s deconstructive rewriting of the “Dick and Jane” primer effectively subverts the terms of the white oppressive discourse and demolishes its ideological foundations, thus paving the way for African American self-affirmation. This is reflected in Claudia’s increasing awareness of, and mounting rebellion against, the destructive white aesthetic. Her rejection of the white beauty myth, demonstrated by her confused early childhood’s destruction of white baby dolls, culminates in a more sophisticated perception of the operation of this myth and in a radical retrieval and re-affirmation of the black beauty and worth which the white beauty myth denies in order to legitimate itself and establish its hegemony. The article argues that the radical resistance to the dehumanizing white ideology Claudia develops is, like Morrison’s formal deconstructive project, quite indebted to African American music and, more crucially, to the rich heritage behind it. The article concludes by emphasizing that in the world depicted in The Bluest Eye possibilities of resistance and chances of survival are vitally dependent on the strength of one’s connection to African American culture and heritage, as the story of Claudia’s survival proves.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11114/ijecs.v2i1.3987

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International Journal of English and Cultural Studies 

ISSN  (2575-811X)  E-ISSN  (2575-8101)

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