The Black Culture’s White Culture Shock Essay
In the history of the world, the most oppressed person has largely been the black. From the ages of slavery to the modern times, the black person has continually received indifferent treatment extending to exploitation, as well as oppression. In her work, Toni Morrison draws on this complex relationship set between the black person and the rest of the world which apparently is the white person.
This relationship has left the black people on the losing end from the political to the economic aspects. As a result, the black culture has faced serious challenges from the societal point of view in terms of socialization due to the economic factor. Toni Morrison in The Bluest Eye traces the history of the black people in the most prolific and unique manner that traces their position and lives in the society. As a black writer, she makes a revealing statement that observes that the black people subjective consciousness is a product of the crumbling nature of the white culture.
As the story begins, Morrison powerfully draws the reader to the historical oppression of the black people’s lives. In their living, the Breedloves are depicted to have the most deplorable life conditions which are a contrast to white’s. The black people lost their own position in the social in order to be the first. The Breedlove’s live in an “old, cold and green house” where at “night a kerosene lamp lights one large room” while the “others are braced in darkness, peopled by roaches and mice” (Morrison, 10).
The dominant white social reality has pushed the black’s living to the margins of society. The economic and the political oppression have for a long time kept the black person in dark silence.
This is well captured in the line, “evening we go to the railroad tracks where we fill burlap sacks with tiny pieces of coal lying about” (Morrison, 10). Morrison’s line is like a commentary that the black culture is crumbled into small pieces by the apparent dominant white culture. This is represented by the coal and the railroad respectively.
This means that the black abandoned their culture and values under the impact of the white culture. In effect, the black people have accepted and desired the white culture as presented by Pecola’s affection of the white silhouette of Shirley Temple and her loving gift of the blue eyed baby doll (Morrison, 19). This is a symbol of the white culture that has pushed the black person almost to paths that lead to self hate.
This in effect translates to the next phase, that of depravity, humiliation and a sense of defeat. Morrison illustrates this in the story by observing that Cholly feels deeply insulted at two white men who disturb his romance scene by flashing lights at them. It is most intense since there is nothing he can do and thus the observation that he lives in the shadows of the white man.
The author describes the psychology of Cholly “even a half-remembrance of this episode, along with myriad other humiliations, defeats, and emasculations, could stir him into flights of depravity that surprised himself—but only himself” (Morrison, 42). This way, Cholly reflects the black face. Accordingly, the black’s main consciousness and social status has been lost.
Furthermore, the black people also forgot their responsibility in the family. The novel The Bluest Eye describes the Breedlove’s family members as influenced by the white culture through different ways to pursue their self-value. For example, Cholly is abandoned by parents, insulted by whites and the pain of finding a father make his spirit distorted.
This begets violence as depicted when he batters his wife. The raw nature human depravity is at its highest when Cholly, in his drunken stupor, rapes his daughter. Therefore, the reader questions the pillars of ethics in the black person (Long and Collier, 32).
In the novel, he is disgusted and has contempt for the whites’ a treatment. In the same way, Pecola’s mother Polly also attempts to alienate her family. When she gets a job in white Fisher’s Home, she is proud of the work and so she spends all day shuttling between the white families. As a result, her husband and daughter become more and more neglected.
It is clearly evident when Pecola knocks the hot jam accidentally in Fisher’s home, that her mother, “Mrs. Breedlove yanks her up by the arm, slaps her again, and in a voice thin with anger, abuses Pecola directly” (Morrison, 109). This is in deep contrast to the utmost care she gives the hosts family’s little girl. Her behaviour shows that her personality is alienated, and she has lost her responsibility and position in the family. As a family, people should love, trust and tolerate each other. In Breedlove’s family, things are opposite since they all aspire to become whites hence losing the strong holds of a family. This almost suggested by the name where love breeds in pain.
As if the black people recognize this, they each in unique ways try to change their destinies and positions though in a faulty manner hence end up doomed. Morrison strongly makes a comment that, despite their efforts, the black people cannot choose their color and eyes. However, it may be easy to abandon their culture. The Bluest Eye not only introduces readers to a black tragic life and existence, but also wants the black people to adhere to their own culture and self value under the impact of the white culture (Gupta, 14).
As a fact, it is clear that there was no difference between the two cultures and race whether good or bad. It is only through contrast in political and economic strength that made the white culture stronger than the black culture. The long-term oppression has translated to demoralized spirit of the black people such as Pecola.
The black people were unable to fight under the heavy hand of a dominant culture, and thus they cold not realize their identities. This led to forsaking of their culture and their traditional values, choosing instead to accept and respect the white culture. Their main concern was to appreciation the beauty of the whites as the peak performance of their desperate need to be like them.
In this act, the belief was that the white skin, brown hair and blue eyes, are the standards of beauty, while the black color is a dirty and ugly symbol. Such are like Polly, who wants to have blue eyes. Influenced by the white culture, the black community has thus lost self consciousness spiraling to abdicate family responsibilities (Page, 24).
The awakening of a nation always starts from an ideology which can also lead to perishing of a culture. For a nation that has lost its social position, there is a need to adhere and develop own national culture. Without any distinction, every nation is equal and free. Therefore, the black race should also be respected. The black children should be happy and lead a normal life full of beautiful dreams, lively songs, self worth and social recognition.
Gupta, Monika. Women Writers in the Twentieth Century Literature. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, 2000. Print.
Long, Richard A, and Eugenia W. Collier. Afro-American Writing: An Anthology of Prose and Poetry. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1985. Print.
Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. New York: Vintage, 2007. Print.
Page, Philip. Dangerous Freedom: Fusion and Fragmentation in Toni Morrison’s Novels. Jackson: Univ. Press of Mississippi, 1995. Print.
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