Morrison's Bluest Eye Essay: Migration

1194 words - 5 pages

The Bluest Eye:  Migration       

Morrison depicts a large part of African American culture when she places the characters in an urban area. The change of environment from the north to the south plays a key role in the loss of communal ties. African Americans are extremely affected given that they are displaced and are attempting to conform to northern cultural standards. The emphasis in the north is on material wealth and beauty, whereas the south is more family oriented.

The migration may have displaced many people, however it does provide job opportunities as well as economic gain. Pauline and Cholly were migrants from small rural towns. Upon getting married, Cholly suggested a move "`way up north. . .where steel mills were begging for workers" (92). The surge of industrial workers created a strong working class, allowing African Americans to purchase homes. The open job market made owning property attainable for many African Americans. New wages and job opportunities enhanced the quality of living for the new residents. Purchasing power took on significance in the African American home, and love is replaced with material items.

Love is replaced with gift giving, and the gifts must conform to white ideals. Claudia experiences this phenomenon at Christmas when she receives a "big blue eyed baby doll" (19). Claudia reflects on how she felt about the doll when stating, "I had only one desire: to dismember it. To see what it was made of to discover the dearness, to find the beauty" (20). In Susan Willis' critical essay "I Shop Therefore I Am" she discusses the reasoning behind Claudia's anger towards the doll. Upon receiving the doll, Claudia's main purpose is to discover the rootedness of white domination. The only thing that stops Claudia from tearing her limbs apart, or getting to the heart of the problem, is that she realizes it would be "disinterested violence." Her violence would not change people's opinions, but woud rather create tension in her family. Claudia's resentment towards the doll stems from the fact that her family is forcing this commodity into her possession.

Having not yet reached puberty, Claudia questions why a specific standard of beauty is instilled in her. Why did "Adults, older girls, shops, magazines, newspapers, window signs-all the world agree that a blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl treasured?" The transition into adulthood changes Claudia's "fabricated hatred" into "fraudulent love" as she too follows the masses.

As a child, Claudia desired the traditional southern mentality of wanting love and community as opposed to gifts:

Nobody ever asked me what I wanted for Christmas

Had any adult with the power to fulfill my desires taken

me seriously and asked me what I wanted, they would

have known I did not want to own, or possess any object. (21)

The warm feelings associated with family holidays is Claudia's dream. She envisions "sitting on...

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