How are the characters in The Bluest Eye oppressing themselves? Explain if they are aware of it.

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merehughes eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The novel The Bluest Eyes deals with the effects of a system that was inherited by the characters in the novel.  The protagonist of the novel, Claudia, shows the reader through her eyes the tale of Pecola, a girl so abused by the system and society that she lives in that she goes insane. Because Pecola does not have the love and security that the narrator has, she believes that if she only had blue eyes everyone will love her. This belief is based on her having seen how the blue eyed children in school and on the street are treated by adults both black and white.  This belief that white is better is one way in which the characters are oppressing themselves.  

Additionally, the characters in the novel distain Pecola's family for being ugly.  Both white and black characters perceive that the ugliness of the family in part comes from being so dark and poor.  The Breedloves themselves perpetuate this idea of their being ugly until they actually become ugly.  For example, the mother's belief that her family is ugly because they can never live up to the white family she works for contributes to the family's belief that they are inferior.

Enotes sums up well, "The Bluest Eye portrays the tragedy that results when African Americans have no resources with which to fight the standards presented to them by the white culture that scorns them."