In The Bluest Eye, to what extent is Cholly to blame for his violent actions against his family? Is he solely responsible, or do you think it’s fair to acknowledge other factors, including his upbringing or white supremacy? What seems to be the novel’s position on this question?

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In The Bluest Eye, Cholly Breedlove is responsible for committing violent acts, but various social factors have played a role in shaping his approach to life. Author Toni Morrison does not absolve any of the individual characters of personal responsibility, but she clearly conveys how racism, along with commercialism and gender inequality, distorts human values.

Cholly’s young life is marred by parental abandonment, which detaches him from the kinds of positive human emotional bonds that most children form. Later, his early experiences of sexual activity become inextricably tied to ideas about male power over women and white men’s power over Black men. Cholly’s conviction that it would be futile to oppose the racist power structure translates into despising Black people for what he perceives as weakness, and the need to impose his will on less powerful people. He ultimately concentrates this combined gendered and racial hatred onto Pecola, a Black, female, child—a member of what he understands as an utterly powerless social category.

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