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Before the Civil Rights Movement

Autor:   •  April 22, 2015  •  Essay  •  1,304 Words (6 Pages)  •  800 Views

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             Before the Civil Rights Movement (1954-1968), things did not look the same as it is today for black people. Slavery had the strongest impact on the construction of the black identity. Racism, Segregation and discrimination were part of everyday life of the African American people. They suffered from inequality, injustice and all sorts of oppression; the white people physically and emotionally oppressed them. They also treated them as objects and properties; most blacks had to belong to an owner. Blacks were not allowed to interact with whites or to access a white person place if they did not work for him. Whites also considered blacks as unclean, nasty and vulgar and they treated them like animals. However, the real victims were the black African women, as they had no position in society. Both whites and blacks mistreated them. These women were first mistreated and abused by their husbands and male members in their homes and secondly by their white employers. They had no dignity and no rights and they were imprisoned in this situation for a long time. Since time of slavery, African American women self has been ruined due to the constant abuse, the humiliating acts and inhuman practices that they encountered everywhere. As a result, they developed a complexity in themselves that lead them to have a sense of self-hatred and a low self-esteem. In my paper, I will deal with Toni Morrison’s women characters in her novel “The Bluest Eye “ and the psychological impact of the circling ideology of white beauty that they had to conform to.

             Toni Morrison is a contemporary African American writer. She is one of America’s most honored authors. She is considered as one of the greatest living writer that has brought new life to American literature. She won the Nobel Prize for Literature (1993).She has written many novels, a play, a short story, and a critical essay.

Morrison writings reflect her concerns about the critical issues of Race, Gender, Identity and the black community. She shows how slavery –which was the most oppressive period in the black history-has shaped the identity of the African American people.

          Toni Morrison’s first novel, The Bluest Eye was first published in 1970.It tells a devastating story of an eleven years old black girl whose name is Peecola Breedlove.Peecola prays to have blue eyes. Her self-confidence is shaken by the fact that she is black and considers blackness as a synonym for ugliness. She sees herself and seen by others as an ugly girl. Peecola is unable to appreciate her own identity and love herself for who she is. She despises her physical features and longs for the white beauty that Shirley temple-the white actress with blue eyes and yellow hair- stands for. According to Peecola, blackness equals ugliness, shame, disgrace and unworthiness. Blackness is what prevents her from being loved, accepted and integrated into society. She also thinks that if only she was white and beautiful her parents will probably stop quarrelling and will love each other and love her too. Peecola others herself by expressing this irrational wish to have blue eyes and by surrendering to the ideology of white beauty imposed upon her by society. Peecola’s inner conflict of who she really is (a black girl) on one hand, and who she aspires to be (white with blue eyes) which will never happens, on the other hand will eventually lead her to madness.


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