Analyze the theme of love throughout The Bluest Eye.

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In The Bluest Eye, author Toni Morrison examines the theme of love. The story is told through the eyes of Claudia MacTeer, who lives with her sister and their parents. The MacTeers are caring, protective, and loving parents, and the love they give their daughters is returned.

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In The Bluest Eye, author Toni Morrison examines the theme of love. The story is told through the eyes of Claudia MacTeer, who lives with her sister and their parents. The MacTeers are caring, protective, and loving parents, and the love they give their daughters is returned.

For instance, one day the girls find their boarder in their home with prostitutes. He asks the girls not to tell their mother. Frieda decides that they do not need to tell her. They do not want to upset their mother, because they love her.

By contrast, Pecola is generally unloved by her own parents, as well as by society overall. Her father is abusive and ultimately rapes her. Her mother does little to help her, and most people in the community are not nice to Pecola either. They view her as ugly. Pecola’s life reflects the lack of love in it. Claudia refers to Pecola as “a girl who had no place to go.”

Pecola loves anyone who shows her some kindness. For instance, her neighbors—the sex workers Miss Marie, China, and Poland—are nice to her, so she loves them. The author writes,

Three whores lived in the apartment above the Breedloves' storefront. China, Poland, and Miss Marie. Pecola loved them, visited them, and ran their errands. They, in turn, did not despise her.

They do not love Pecola, but she loves them because they treat her better than her own family does. Pecola also wants to change things so that people will love her. Sadly, she believes that having blue eyes will make this happen.

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Love is a primary theme in Toni Morrison's novel. This theme can be analyzed in several ways. One approach would be to follow a character or group of characters and look at the impact that love—and, in this work, the lack of it—has on their lives. Another approach would be to focus on different kinds of love, such as for familial (mother, father, sibling, etc.) or romantic love; beyond the family, such as friends; or in relation to a larger group or concept, such as for community, race, or even country. In A Bluest Eye, two other kinds of love are especially important. One is misplaced "love" for material things or empty symbols of love. Another is self-love and its opposite, self-loathing.

Taking the first approach, one could follow Pecola in her endless, unfulfilled search for love. In contrast, one might trace her friend Claudia, who is loved and learns to know more about love. Thematically, in regard to Pecola, the themes of maternal and paternal love could be traced. Again, the scarcity of these kinds of love has a huge impact on her identity and the path of her life. Cholly clearly shows the opposite of paternal love by taking out his problems on a young girl. In different ways, both Pecola and Cholly embody the problems of a lack of self-love.

The more abstract idea of love being applied to inanimate objects or what they represent is an underlying current in the novel. Pecola is the primary character who represents this inappropriate application. She mistakenly believes that dolls and related objects are worthy of her love, not understanding that they symbolize her inability to love herself—and, more broadly, the blocked route to self-love and group pride, which Morrison shows as having been especially difficult for African American people in this era.

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The tragedy of Toni Morrison's first novel, The Bluest Eye, is that love, particularly self-love, seems to be elusive among the members of Lorain, Ohio's black community. The Breedlove family, whose name ironically symbolizes an urge to foster and reap the love that eludes them the most, are a case study in the corrosive effects of racism on a black family.

Cholly Breedlove learns during puberty, particularly during his first sexual encounter with a girl named Darlene, to connect sexuality to brutality. Frustrated by his powerlessness against the white men who objectify him during that encounter, he transfers his rage onto Darlene, setting up a pattern in which he learns to despise black women, particularly those who want to love and depend on him. His marriage to Pauline Breedlove is contentious, and sometimes violent. His relationship with his daughter, Pecola, culminates in violence when he rapes her.

Pauline is treated as though she is subhuman because she is a black woman. While she is giving birth to Pecola, a doctor enters her hospital room with a group of medical students and describes how she and other black women supposedly give birth as ably as horses. Pauline is saddened by the doctor's inability to recognize her pain. The only role in which she garners any respect is as the maid of a wealthy white family and the nanny of their little blonde daughter. The little girl looks like the sort that Pecola wants to become so that she, too, can be doted upon as her own mother dotes on the girl. Meanwhile, Pauline slaps Pecola for entering the home of her employers without permission and for sullying her immaculate floors.

Pecola's response to being unloved is to convince herself that, if she had blue eyes, she would be adored by everyone. The racism of American society, which idealizes blond, blue-eyed people, has instructed Pecola to believe that only people with these features have value.

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