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How are shame and internalized racial self-hatred motivating factors in the actions of...

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lxhelili | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) Honors

Posted November 26, 2010 at 7:41 AM via web

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How are shame and internalized racial self-hatred motivating factors in the actions of the characters in The Bluest Eye? Discuss how these self destructive factors manifest themselves in two of the following characters:  Junior, Pecola, Geraldine, and Cholly.

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cetaylorplfd | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted November 26, 2010 at 8:09 AM (Answer #1)

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In Morrison's The Bluest Eye, shame and internalized racial self-hatred are motivating factors for several characters.  For example, Geraldine is strictly motivated by her perception of the ugly side of blackness, an image that she and others around her have been shown all their lives.  Geraldine believes that in order to be respectable, she must be clean, and her obsession with multiple forms of cleanliness takes over her life.  As a result, she becomes ashamed of her own physicality, and sex becomes a burden that she must endure for the sake of being married.

When Pecola enters Geraldine's home, she is repulsed by the sight of the girl who appears to be of a lower economic class.  Geraldine is not the first person to have shunned Pecola, and by this point, Pecola has already internalized the community's hatred of her.  Pecola's intense longing for love and acceptance drive her mad by the end of the novel.  So, shame and self-hatred are overwhelming factors of motivation for these two characters.

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