"The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison. During this passage, Claudia describes a childhood memory of when she received a white doll for Christmas.

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This passage is taken from the ‘autumn’ section and occurs during the description of the MacTeer’s family from the point of view of their youngest daughter Claudia, right after she declared her hatred for Shirley Temple. During this passage, Claudia describes a childhood memory of when she received a white doll for christmas. Incapable of understanding why the doll she receives is supposed to represent true beauty because of its blue eyes and light skin and why whiteness is considered to be superior and beautiful, Claudia challenges the idea that she is given by the community and the family she is surrounded by. She describes her unability to identify with the doll because its physical appearance is so different from hers and the way she strongly wants to understand why theses dolls represent an ideal of beauty even the black community has to embrace. Thanks to a description seen through the eyes of Claudia and to various litterary techniques, Toni Morrison brings the character to life and helps us understand the difficulty of growing up and finding an identity under the pressure of beauty standards and internalized racism. Throughout this passage, the author strongly highlights the themes of beauty and internalized racism in the black community and especially in the lives of black girls and women and creates a strong contrast between two important movements in the extract, the idea of society which is seen trough the influence the society has on characters and through what an object is able to convey, opposed to the idea of individuality.


First of all, the passage is written by a first person narrator and is described through the eyes of Claudia as an adult which is very interesting because it gives the story she tells a sense of maturity and shows a reflection on past events that is very adultlike. Claudia as an adult uses her childhood memories to denounce internalized racism and its effects on the black community’s lives and the fact that reflection is present in this extract pushes the reader to believe Claudia. Because she is an adult who has been able to reflect on past events, the reader knows that what she describes aren’t only chilhood memories that are very spontaneous and emphasized by childlike naivety.  The use of first person narrative helps us to understand a particular aspect of the character as the reader is introduced to his thoughts, feelings and opinions. Through the use of first person narrative, the reader learns that Claudia is different from her society and from her family thanks to the descriptions of her feelings towards the doll, which are given trough her eyes. At one point in the extract, Claudia says ‘ I learned quickly however what I was expected to do with the doll’ which shows that it is the adult Claudia speaking and that although during the moment she described she did not understand, as an adult she now does. Now that she has become and adult, she is trying to denounce internalized racism by showing that even though children do not understand what it is and are not even aware of its existence, they are victims of it. Although the reader also knows what internalized racism is, the fact that the first person narrative directly introduces him into Claudia’s thoughts as a child pushes him to question and try to understand the values that are shared by the black society as well.

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When Claudia receives the doll for chistmas, she immediately sees the importance the doll has for the society through the reaction of her family. For her parents, which are used by Toni Morrison to represent the values and ideas of the black community, Claudia should be found of her present because the doll represents what they believe beauty is. This passage creates a strong contrast between society and individuality and is very important to understand the society in which the characters live. Toni Morrison uses the past tense to show it is a flashback told by the adult Claudia who ...

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