Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eyes” in Relation to Psychological Theories

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One may think that the themes on works of Nobel laureate Toni Morrison in her book by name bluest eyes was only relevant in the past decades. This is not the case because the book is as relevant today as it was relevant during the time it was being lounged in the early 1970s (Cherry, 2008, p.6). This is evident in most of our families globally because one’s family and society at large greatly influence various ways in which he or she perceives what is good and what is bad and most specifically in matters relating to beauty in girls and in women in general. This book revolves around a certain innocent, black girl called Pecola Breedlove who thinks she is “ugly” because she does not have what other people measure beauty with. Here P ecola associates what she is made to understand as beauty with being loved and respected by other people. Pecola Breedlove is obsessed with unattainable desire to have blue eyes in order to look after her childhood superstar called Shirley Temple. The desire has become so extreme even to an extent that she makes efforts to consult a spiritualist who in turn gives her a false promise that one day she will have blue eyes(Myers, 2010, p.27). This is never to be fulfilled and the only way she achieves her desire of having blue eyes is by losing her sanity thus she enjoy her fantasies of having blue eyes which makes her have the beauty she has been longing for since her childhood.

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Pecola Breedlove is a very disturbed young innocent and black girl who is highly ashamed of her parents’ behavior of always and constantly exchanging words and battling each other in her presence to an extend that she wishes to disappear completely from her home. In her efforts to vacate home she is unwillingly absorbed in the family of Mr. Mac Teer where she somewhat accepted by members of this family who includes her two friends Claudia and Frieda who are Mr. Mac Teer daughters. In this book it is very clear that Pocola’s mother who is called Pauline prefers and adores very much the children of the white man’s family where she undertakes her household jobs than her own daughter. It is obvious that her motivation to for this is merely based on her love of white people. Pauline is also seen calling her own daughter Pecola weird names and always telling and constantly putting in Pecola’s mind how ugly she looked without even being sensitive to her daughter’s feelings which promoted her desire for blue eyes.

The Pocola’s case is worsened by her father’s inhuman actions when she violently defiled her on two occasions with the later occasion leaving her pregnant and even when she tries to explain the sad occasion to her own mother and the rest of the people in near the neighborhood nobody trust that she is saying the truth (whalen, 2002, p.5). This pregnancy exposes Pecola to ridicule in the whole society with a lot of people wishing that the pregnancy were to be terminated because they believed that she will bear another ugly child equally or even worse than her. Pecola is also harassed by small white boys but when Maurine who is light skinned black girl comes for her rescue the boys runs away in respect of the perceived to beautiful women. Here we are going to analyze the character formation of this troubled innocent black girl called Pecola basing our arguments on various theories and also relating them to culture, social justice and environment. These theories will include the theory by Erik Erickson which explains various stages of development in life cycle, also Freud psychoanalytic theory and finally the cognitive theory by Jean Piaget.

The Erik Eriksson psychosocial theory is largely appreciated by a lot of people of the world. This is because despite the fact that it was developed several decades from now it still remains very relevant in explaining the development of personalities in the course of one’s life cycle. For example in our case of interest we will be able to explain with to great precision the personality acquired by this particular black girl so called Pecola. The theory has been a great success for all those many years because it was developed after a lot of interaction with different people because Eriksson had great passion for people in general and the young children to be specific and also because he incorporated both the cultural and social aspects in his theory. In his theory he argues that people undergoes various psychosocial challenges at different stage of their lives and it is how this people respond to these crisis which determine the level of balance in the acquired personality and in this case it can be either positive or negative. This psychosocial crisis is the inner conflicts of emotions which everybody should try and solve in order for him or her to develop. In each stage of development there are usually two challenges which are in conflict with one another and thus the social and cultural conditions and also the environment in which one is based matters a lot as far as negotiating this condition is concerned and the outcome of that negotiation is what translates to the kind of behavior and personality one acquires at the end of a particular stage. The Erik Erikson has tried to explain the behaviors and personality acquisition in ones course of development in various eight stages even after his death his wife incorporated the ninths stage but for the sake of standardization people of the eight stage. In our case we are only interested with explaining the personality acquired by Pecola Breedlove thus we will follow her up to the stages where she becomes insane.

Our first stage will be infancy which is associated with the acquisition some level of trust or mistrust depending with the kind of the parental conditions a child is exposed to. This stage is also commonly referred to as the oral stage by most people and here the fate of the infant is entirely on the mother because the mothers are supposed to expose positive and a very loving care towards the infant. In this stage also the activities undertaken by the child involves mainly. This is a very important stage and thus it is advisable for all mothers to take a very care for the babies because the effects of failing to take good care for their children are so severe to extend of affecting the life of the child in the future days. This is because they are taken good care they tend to view people in a very positive manner and they learn to develop to the people and this will be transmitted in to their future lives. If the proper care is not given to this child then the children will develop undesired attributes of life such as frustrations and also they are not in a position to trust anybody because of the perception created in their early stages of life is that people are cruel and not caring and loving. This will also make them feel extreme sense of lack of value. In other case when the children are well taken care of they develop some most desired qualities which are helpful in facing life and among them is self confidence. In most cases when the children fails to respond well in this stage a lot of cases of suicides can be reported because this fells it is better when they are dead than when a life since they do not attach any value in their lives. In this case it is very clear that the life of Pecola Breedlove could not have been any better. This is because her mother Pauline is said to have loved and adored the white man’s children more than her own children. She also goes ahead and her daughter Pauline she is ugly even without being considerate of the impacts that she is posing on her own daughter Pecola. This is clear evidence that her mother never loved her and she could not have treated her any better when she was an infant thus making her to fail in very critical stage of development where she could have acquired virtues such as trust, confidence and self worth.

Secondly, the other stage of development as outlined by Erik Erikson is the early childhood stage which is characterized by acquisition of autonomy and shame. Here the children engage more an activities such as walking, talking, feeding and most especially the motor development. Also the children appreciate toilet training. This is another very critical stage of development in which they acquire important aspects of life such as feeling of attaching good value in his or her own life, control over their emotions and feelings and independence. If this stage is not well taken care of then the children will have doubts on themselves and their abilities and great feeling of shame. For the purpose of our analysis of Pecola’s personality it is true that she could not have gone through this stage successfully due to the mere fact that her parents not only neglected her but also hated her to the extent of even telling her to her face that she was an ugly creature which made her internalize that she looked ugly. This has led to her troubled life because she does not have self esteem and this makes her feel that she is so inferior even to level of allowing small white boys to challenge her without fighting back herself because it is Maurine who comes for her defense. Here it is seen that Pecola does not believe in her abilities because to her beauty is everything that a person needs to get all what she desires because the society has made her believe so.

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Thirdly, we also have another stage called play age which is associated with children either becoming more initiative or gaining a feeling of guiltiness. In this stage the children are usually trying very hard to imitate their peers or the adults whom they think have some qualities which they admire or the society makes them to admire. In this case the Pecola has developed an extreme desire to be like her childhood superstar by names Shirley Temple which quite unattainable (Oswalt, 1995, p.1). In the end of the story she becomes insane which becomes the only way for to escape from the sad reality that she will never see herself in blue eyes not even after false promises by the spiritualist whom she went to consult and told her that one day she will have blue eyes. Here the children are also actively trying to explore in order to get answers to why things happen the way they are. Also the children are trying to make things for example phone toys and this helps them to improve their initiative aspects. This process needs a child to be well guided by her parents which never occurred to Pecola Breedlove (Kohn, 2008, p.1).

The other stage which can explain the personality of Pecola Breedlove is the adolescence stage. This is highly associated with identity and role confusion formation. Here what is done to children and what they do to themselves is very important in determining their personality. Here the children want to discover their identity. If this stage is not well taken care of some children may start experiencing withdrawal from responsibilities and also having very low esteem. This is exactly what happened to Pecola Breedlove in the case when her own father raped her and when she tried to explain the event to her mother she could not believe it. Her own father again rapes her leaving her pregnant and the society ridicules her wishing that her pregnancy was better terminated. A lot of things her happening to this innocent black girl eve her mother constantly telling her that she looks ugly and she makes her believe so and fueling her unattainable desire to always pray for and seek having blue eyes because society has made her believe that by fact of possessing blue eyes one looks beautiful. (Alan, 2006, p.3) It is at this stage that she runs mad and now she can enjoy her fantasy of having blue eyes and even getting an imaginary companion.

The personality of Pecola Breedlove can also be explained in terms of psychoanalytic theory by Sigmund Freud. The personality of this black ‘ugly’ girl can be explained in terms of Id which is primitive instincts which energies underlying all psychic activity and are based on pleasure. This is very evident with Pecola Breedlove because she is using all means to attain blue eyes without being careful of her even at the end trading her sanity with unattainable desire of having blue eyes. The parents should intervene in desires of their children and advise them accordingly.

The personality and behaviors of Pecola Breedlove can also be explained the third theory which is the cognitive theory by Jean Piaget which assumes that intelligence is shaped by the environment. In this book of the bluest eyes we can see that the mind of this black girl called Pecola has been greatly ruined by the opinion of society where she lives. Here the society views beauty in terms of being light skinned, being white and having blue eyes and blonde hair. Also beauty in this society it is associated with many good things such as commanding respect from other people. This is true because despite the fact that Maurine is black she commands respect from the white boys who were harassing Pecola just because she has a light skin and thus being perceived to be beautiful and thus commanding respect. She has also been subjected to an environment where she is abused twice by her own father leaving her pregnant a condition which exposes her to more ridicule from the society.

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From the above analysis of the personality of Pecola Breedlove, it is clear that most of behaviors and personalities which most of the grownups exhibits are the product opinions of their societies thus the common saying that a person is what his or her society made him or her to be (Aiken, 2010, p.2). This calls for all societies of the world to come to terms that everybody is beautiful in his own ways and shun from all acts of racism. It is also important for all parents to show affection to their children and never commend insensitively towards their children as this affect them for the rest of their life. Here we have discussed personality of a certain character by the name Pecola Breedlove in the book called bluest eyes by a Nobel laureate Toni Morrison. The characters personality has been adequately explained by the three theories which include various stages of development by Erik Erikson in life cycle, Sigmund Freud psychoanalytic theory and Jean Piaget cognitive theory.

References

Aiken, P. (2010). Stages of Development. Web.

Alan, C. (2006). Erikson’s psychological development theory. Web.

Cherry, K. (2009). Erikson’s Theory of Psychological Development. Web.

Kohn, D. (2008). Stages of Psychosocial Development. Web.

Myers, L. (2010). Stages of Socio- Emotional Development in Children and Teenagers. Web.

Oswalt, T. (1995). Web.

Whalen, J. (2002). The Bluest eyes Summary and Study Guide. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, June 25). Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eyes” in Relation to Psychological Theories. Retrieved from https://psychologywriting.com/toni-morrisons-the-bluest-eyes-in-relation-to-psychological-theories/

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, June 25). Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eyes” in Relation to Psychological Theories. https://psychologywriting.com/toni-morrisons-the-bluest-eyes-in-relation-to-psychological-theories/

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"Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eyes” in Relation to Psychological Theories." PsychologyWriting, 25 June 2022, psychologywriting.com/toni-morrisons-the-bluest-eyes-in-relation-to-psychological-theories/.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eyes” in Relation to Psychological Theories'. 25 June.

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PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eyes” in Relation to Psychological Theories." June 25, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/toni-morrisons-the-bluest-eyes-in-relation-to-psychological-theories/.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eyes” in Relation to Psychological Theories." June 25, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/toni-morrisons-the-bluest-eyes-in-relation-to-psychological-theories/.


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PsychologyWriting. "Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eyes” in Relation to Psychological Theories." June 25, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/toni-morrisons-the-bluest-eyes-in-relation-to-psychological-theories/.