Setting, Signifyin’(g), and Self-Image in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye

dc.contributor.advisorMorrison, Susan S.
dc.contributor.authorMaulding, Emily
dc.contributor.committeeMemberMcClancy, Kathleen
dc.contributor.committeeMemberHolt, Elvin
dc.description.abstractToni Morrison’s debut novel, The Bluest Eye, tells the story of an African American girl named Pecola Breedlove who grows up in Lorain, Ohio, during the years following the Great Depression. Pecola is frequently regarded as ugly by her community, but most commonly by her mother, Pauline Breedlove. The hateful actions and words of Pauline consistently contribute to Pecola’s self-image. Throughout the novel, her negative self-image grows as she interacts with her environment and community. Eventually, she is raped by her father and becomes pregnant, only to lose both the baby and her state of mind. As a result, Pecola wishes for blue eyes, which she equates with beauty, creating an imaginary friend as a way to cope with her trauma. Pecola and Pauline’s environments—the physical setting, members of the community, and social oppression in their lives—contribute to their poor self-image. In this thesis, I will identify the historical discrimination that created Pauline and Pecola’s oppressive environment; show the effects of this setting on them; and explain how they cope with the effects. The proposed thesis will reveal how historical redlining, white beauty standards, racial discrimination, and oppression all eat away at her characters’ psyches. As the narrator of the novel says, Pecola’s community and environment failed to protect her and help her thrive. Her poor self-image, fostered by her setting, leads to her deterioration. Morrison uses these themes to criticize the ways in which media and historical oppression have affected African American beauty standards. Morrison rejects mainstream images of beauty and urges readers to create their own. This analysis reveals Morrison's sense of how our environments and relationships with our communities affect self-perceptions.
dc.format.extent58 pages
dc.format.medium1 file (.pdf)
dc.identifier.citationMaulding, E. (2021). Setting, signifyin’(g), and self-image in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.
dc.subjectMorrison, Toni
dc.subjectThe Bluest Eye
dc.subjectwaste studies
dc.subjectethnic studies
dc.subjectAfrican American studies
dc.titleSetting, Signifyin’(g), and Self-Image in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye
dc.typeThesis State University of Arts