Prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination are still part of the modern world. These phenomena generate hatred and deprive many people of opportunities and their rights. Moreover, they become the reason for such issues as low self-esteem, anxiousness, and other emotional problems for discriminated people (Thijs and Pisco 167). Sexism and racism are different types of discrimination, first by sex, second by race, that affects people’s lives (“Types of Discrimination”). They spread violence, moral and physical, among both oppressors and oppressed. Women suffer from sexism, people of color are affected by racism, and women of color are victims of both phenomena. Tony Morrison, in her book The Bluest Eye, shows not just the consequences of racism and sexism, but also their combination. Despite the fact that discrimination already unjustly divides people, some of them can be harassed even more, for example, an African-American girl.
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The Bluest Eye is filled with controversial themes and complex characters who live in Ohio after the Great Depression. The main character named Pecola is a black girl who, like everyone else around, believes in “white” beauty standards and therefore dreams of blue eyes. Pecola’s neighbors are seeking to withdraw themselves: “learned from her husband all that was worth learning – to separate herself in body, mind, and spirit from all that suggested Africa” (Morrison 167). The division of races is closely intertwined with class inequality and morality – whiteness involves wealth, innocence, and opportunity. Dark skin color, on the contrary, implies poverty, lack of education, and even ugliness. This injustice is men and women’s constant companion and it becomes the reason for envy, the sensation of negligibility, and anger to others.
Nevertheless, one should not forget that Pecola is not just an African-American – she is a girl. Black men, experiencing discrimination, could compensate for their humiliation at the expense of weaker women. A vivid example of violence generated by violence is Pecola’s father Cholly: “Never did he once consider directing his hatred toward the hunters. Such an emotion would have destroyed him. They were big, white, armed men. He was small, black, helpless “(Morrison 150). As a result, he disrespects women, neglects his family, and commits a terrible act with his daughter. Most other male characters are also unpleasant, and girls are innocent victims. No one can protect them from unpleasant views, hints, and encroachments, since everyone around them feels insignificant, powerless, and also needs protection.
Both racism and sexism have a detrimental effect on the characters in The Bluest Eye. They make people strive for unattainable ideals, underestimate their own dignity, and contribute to the emergence of mental problems (Czopp 210). They are equally dangerous to children as they bring violence. The main character of the book suffered both mentally and physically because of the chain of events that arose due to both – sexism and racism. At the end of the story, Pecola preferred to deny reality and believed that her dream came true – her eyes were blue, and she considered herself beautiful. Assessing such an insane state, it is impossible to understand what of these two phenomena affected her more. However, their combination and fierce manifestations demonstrated the possibility of terrible and incorrigible consequences.
Thus, racism and sexism pose the same danger, but there is a more vulnerable part of the population that suffers from both types of discrimination – black women. The main reason for the threat is stereotypes imposed by society, which invented reasons for hatred. Prejudices spread along with mass culture, forcing everyone to find flaws in themselves. It can be assumed that people can protect themselves from manifestations of racism and sexism in society by finding support from similar victims. However, often such phenomena only spread cruelty and anger from which it is not so easy to hide. Prejudices spread in families, communities, and are difficult to break down as they become part of the mentality. The image of Pecola, created by Toni Morrison in The Bluest Eye, is designed to demonstrate to readers what such behavior can lead to.
Czopp, Alexander M. “The Consequences of Confronting Prejudice.” Confronting Prejudice and Discrimination, edited by Robyn K. Mallet and Margo J. Monteith, Academic Press, 2019,pp. 201–221.
Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. Vintage International, 2007.
Thijs, Jochem, and DeaPiscoi. “Perceiving Discrimination in ‘Real life’: Distinguishing Negative Events from Discrimination Attributions.” Basic and Applied Social Psychology, vol. 38, no.3,2016,pp. 166–172.
“Types of Discrimination.” CDC, 2017. Web.