What humilations and abuses do characters in The Bluest Eye experience that lead to their ability to harm others? How do characters in The Bluest Eye play a role in their own dehumanization?
Jan 17, 2013
During these mentally and emotionally challenging post storm years on the Gulf Coast, my Mama DiDi (aka healer Diana Panara) speaks of something called PERSISTENT Traumatic Stress Disorder which maintains a consistently flowing frequency of shame and grief which are most often expressed as Anger, bullying, depression, mania, dissociative disorders, et. al. The Characters in The Bluest Eye live lives of constant humiliation. The cut of their clothes, the nakedness of their fathers, the hatred fear and disgust of society, the constant state of alarm and defensiveness. Cholly Breedlove went from being an abandoned baby (on a trash heap), to being a poor invisible colored boy, to a once again orphaned adolescent who after a day of loving careful treatment from his community as “The bereaved”, was sexually assaulted, humiliated, and threatened with death during his first consensual sexual experience or right of passage into “manhood”. Throughout the story Morrison shows us how desire and sexuality are used as weapons to humiliate, wound and maintain this persistent frequency of trauma induced stress. If a person is raised – aka develops their psyche and intuition in an environment of seemingly never ending defeat and despair, how likely is that person to not reflect that dehumanized state in their lives? By removing the erotic from the human experience, we are able to witness brutality and violence take its place. Forced passivity can lead to a potential for self loathing and self harm, paralysis, and violence because it forces the victim to be complicit in the abuse. When Cholly was forced to rape Darlene during their virginal foray into sensuality, he immediately developed a hatred for her as a way of negotiating his shame and terror. A disempowered being will look for a place of power or perceived power to use as a locale for acting out despair and fear and the collective stresses of oppression.
Mary Webb says:
Jan 25, 2013
Certainly one of the biggest humiliations is the unconscionable interruption of Cholly and Darlene’s first sexual experience. But another pill I found hard to follow is the family being forced to keep the damaged sofa. Paying good money for something and receiving less than what you paid for is enough of an injustice. What made matters insufferable was that it was the family’s first real piece of furniture — something that should have been a source of pride instead becomes a source of embarrassment.
But then, the Breedloves continue to debase themselves in this same situation. Instead of trying to make the best of their plight by reupholstering the sofa in some way to hide the little fault, they choose to be defeated, allowing the small tear to become a gaping hole and then, a chasm. They willingly accept onto themselves the inferiority being pushed onto them.
Ooops! That’s hard to swallow, not follow.
Feb 7, 2013
Well said Mary and Geryll and I would point out that Cholly is in a sense raped in that scene as well. It is that humiliation he faces in being powerless to defend himself or Darlene that causes him to hate black women. That episode sets the course for his interactions with black women. He couldn’t protect Darlene, he is unable to provide a better life for Pauline, and of course he can’t protect Pecola from himself. He does to his daughter what was done to him and in that act wipes away the last of his humanity.
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