“The Thing to fear was the Thing that made her beautiful, and not us (74).”
The battle for reconciliation colors Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” without a hue short of full-impact blunt force trauma. (Pun(s) fiercely intended) Race is everywhere, it is unavoidable, race in its fullest malignant garb is something insufferably conspicuous, yet paradoxically ineffable. The Thing that haunts the novel’s dynamic characters is something that intertwines and conflates the epochs that mark the passage of a lifetime: the Thing has happened, it continues to happen, and is determined to overwhelm as the inevitable denouement.
Let’s employ Darwin’s natural selection theory and attempt to decipher the etiology of the Thing. Rather than focusing on the trans-generational effect of genetic mutation, we will appropriate the concept as the Natural Selection of Consciousness. Utilizing a “Gardener/Garden” analogy, society at large acts as the gardener, the WASP (in short-hand) maintains the garden to their liking by cultivating other WASPs and sowing seeds of discord into the spots “dandelions” (African Americans), pesticides of self-hate sprayed meant as catalysts for self-immolation. In time, such a detrimental understanding of self -identity cannot help but infect the unsuspecting posterity, each inheriting poisonous qualia of consciousness and doomed to fight both the very human apparatus that sustains it and the counter-productivity of self versus self.
Pecola Breedlove hates the Blue-eyed ones. Pecola Breedlove longs to be Blue-eyed. At its core, it’s not the physical characteristics of white people Pecola desires, but the privilege of not having to acknowledge privilege. She wants beauty, no matter its incarnation. She wants love, no matter its conditions.
Pecola Breedlove is a pariah, and one of many. She is a trope.
Loraine, Ohio is a micro-culture of the shame that marks America and its interminable fight to wash her hands clean of the past.