The Soil is Bad for Certain Kinds of Flowers: Dominant Cultural Narratives and the Impact of Community in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye

UNCA Author/Contributor (non-UNCA co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Savannah Bowman, Student (Creator)
University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA )
Web Site:
Dee James

Abstract: In The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, readers are immediately confronted with an American ideal: “Here is the house. It is green and white. It has a door. It is very pretty. Here is the family. Mother, Father, Dick, and Jane live in the green-and-white house. They are very happy.” By forcing readers to immediately examine this ideal life, Morrison encourages us to compare this life with the reality of the Breedloves and the MacTeers—two families struggling to find themselves illustrated in this picture-perfect life. My thesis explores themes including the influence of community on the individual, the dangers of imposing dominant cultural narratives, the impact of racial shame, and the cyclical nature of self-hatred that is present not only in the novel, but also in society. I posit that it is because of their higher social class that Claudia and Frieda MacTeer are able to stave off the madness that comes so quickly for Pecola Breedlove. Because the MacTeers are part of a beloved community, the repercussions of dominant cultural narratives without counter-narratives are lessened. This is juxtaposed by the Breedlove family, who lives in isolation and is part of no such community. The cyclical, inherited nature of self-hatred present in the Breedlove family is not an inherent behavior, but a learned one. Moreover, by exploring these themes in the novel I draw connections to our contemporary lives, questioning what this text means to modern readers

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2015
Toni Morrison, race, cultural narrative, societal norms

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