Blog Question 10/27

 

The Bluest Eye ends how it begins: with the (failed) magic of the marigold seeds. Young Claudia believes that Pecola’s misfortunes are the fault of herself and Frieda; they planted the marigold seeds too deeply, and the flowers never grew, so Pecola could not be saved. However, Adult Claudia’s last remarks are, “I talk about how I did not plant the seeds too deeply, how it was the fault of the earth, the land, of our town” (206). What is the significance of the novel ending with Adult Claudia’s perspective? Does she retain any of the innocence she had as Young Claudia or is she now “corrupt?”

8 Responses to Blog Question 10/27

  1. Noah says:

    I don’t think Morrison is portraying the changes between the young and old Claudias so drastically as to be able to label her as “corrupt,” but she does discuss in the afterword how she attempted to portray–empathetically–characters that are complicit in Pecola’s mistreatment.

    “I did not want to dehumanize the characters who trashed Pecola and contributed to her collapse.” (211). Though I feel that our narrator was part of this communal mistreatment, I don’t think in old age she’s become corrupt or bitter. Rather, the Adult Claudia has learned to see the events of her youth in a broader context, and perhaps perceive the broader social, and larger societal, constructs that led to “the insignificant destruction of a black girl.” (214). Instead, the child/adult distinction allows the narrator to portray the story with the proper narrative weight.

  2. Ryan Spencer says:

    I agree with Noah that it would be hard to label the old Claudia as “corrupt.” I think, here, rather than seeing a binary opposition, we see a shift in the meaning of innocence. We discussed in class that these binaries are not necessarily exclusive to each other. Morrison, certainly, would not be one to get trapped in binaries. Therefore just because Adult Claudia may not be as innocent as child Claudia, definitely doesn’t mean she’s corrupt. I think that Claudia neither retains nor loses innocence, rather her innocence changes. It changes from an innocence of ignorance caused by a youthful lack of understanding to a difference kind of innocence, an understanding innocence. An innocence maintained by the concept that she herself cannot be directly to blame for Pecola’s misfortunes. A knowing innocence which means neither can she blame many of the others who played a part in Pecola’s collapse, it was out of their and her control and likely, in this case, inevitable because of the social and societal constructs in which Pecola found herself.

  3. LaShawn Simmons says:

    I don’t think Claudia is a corrupt, I am aware that she is not perfect. She is aware that she isn’t either which is why she carries the weight of the communal infliction of violence (both quotidian and physical) thrust upon Pecola. This question also has the capacity disengage binaries in morale as one could interpret this as an approach to make herself appear even more noble, which indeed is corrupt. Nonetheless, I believe adult Claudia recognizes the comfort in utilizing Pecola’s ugliness as a justification for their own anguish. This idea is blatantly illustrated in the line “All of our waste which we dumped on her and which she absorbed” (205). As we witnessed earlier, Pecola accepts this idea herself as she believes having blue eyes would mitigate if not eliminate the unbearable weight of discrimination and neglect that lead to her “madness.” A similar (not exact) act of this communal violence is reinforced in Sula (another text by Toni Morrison) though it is layered with arguably more intense ideas of moral superiority. So, please read Sula if you have a chance.

    • Gilberto Rosa says:

      I was also very interested in the ways in which Pecola internalized these ideas of beauty into herself. It simply goes to show that our perceptions of beauty simply do not exist in a vacuum but that they are absorbed by those around us- especially those that do not fit into the ideal mode of beauty. What I find even more beautiful in the passage that you bring up, is what is said right after. “And all of our beauty, which was hers and which she gave to us. All of us- all who knew her- felt so wholesome after we cleaned ourselves on her” (205). It goes to show that there’s a power that gets claimed when we shame others for things they do not see in themselves. Another thing that I find really interesting is how this book is not a children’s book yet it is during childhood that these perceptions of beauty are really drilled into people. Toni Morrison writing “The Bluest Eye” shows that these ideas are still internalized by people at any stage in their life and that it can sometimes take a whole lifetime to undo these ideas we have internalized and punished ourselves for.

  4. Michaela Cabral says:

    I think Adult Claudia’s perspective is necessary at the end of the novel to comprehend the events in a larger context. Even though Morrison shows throughout her novel that children are thinking, rationalizing beings, it would be difficult for a child to connect various “shortcomings” and also to see beyond what is directly in front of them. I think this quote shows how over time, a person becomes more aware of institutionalized structures and less convinced that misfortune exists on an individual basis only. I think Adult Claudia further examines this point when she says, “Certain seeds it will not nurture, certain fruit it will not bear, and when the land kills of its own volition, we acquiesce and say the victim had no right to live” (206). The world is built in such a way that it excludes the success of some; but rather than blame the limiting avenues to and views of success, the person who wasn’t allowed to function in this system is blamed. I’m unsure of how much innocence Adult Claudia retains from her childhood, but it is clear that Adult Claudia sees the full reality of the situation that she might have been unable to fully comprehend as a child.

  5. Laura Katz says:

    I do think that the line signifies a loss of innocence, because it moves away from the concept that their magic could save Pecola and the Marigolds. It also moves the reader to a mature articulation of the reason for the marigolds demise and moved us awayfrom a kind of childhood bickering we are privy to in the beginning. This the ending does seem to suggest if not corruption, than a sense of maturity that comes with adulthood.

  6. Sydney Exler says:

    I agree with the previous comments that Claudia does not render as corrupt in my mind; instead, similarly to LaShawn’s comment I perceive her final representation as a product of her circumstances and environment. I would not go as far as to say that she still maintains her innocence – I think that her recognition of the fact that she did “not” plant the seeds too deeply portrays her as aware of her role in her life and the influence she potentially holds over those around her. This quote, to me, represents a growth of self-awareness that ultimately exposes her shedding of innocence. But I also do not view her as corrupt – in fact, her ability to separate herself from her environment (to attribute the fault of the failed seeds to “the earth, the land”) reveals a progression of her character from her originally hate-filled character (which we discussed today in class, citing the example of the doll scene). Overall, I love the idea of looping the ending of the book back to the beginning, especially in this instance where we really get the feeling of closure, seeing the progression of Claudia’s character over the course of the novel.

  7. Sydney Exler says:

    I agree with the previous comments that Claudia does not render as corrupt in my mind; instead, similarly to LaShawn’s comment I perceive her final representation as a product of her circumstances and environment. I would not go as far as to say that she still maintains her innocence – I think that her recognition of the fact that she did “not” plant the seeds too deeply portrays her as aware of her role in her life and the influence she potentially holds over those around her. This quote, to me, represents a growth of self-awareness that ultimately exposes her shedding of innocence. But I also do not view her as corrupt – in fact, her ability to separate herself from her environment (to attribute the fault of the failed seeds to “the earth, the land”) reveals a progression of her character from her originally hate-filled character (which we discussed today in class, citing the example of the doll scene). Overall, I love the idea of looping the ending of the book back to the beginning, especially in this instance where we really get the feeling of closure, seeing the progression of Claudia’s character over the course of the novel.

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