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Paper Topic:

A CRITICAL ANALYSIS of Imagery use, specifically, of the Dick and Jane narrative in THE BLUEST EYE by Toni Morrison

See Jane Run , See Pecola Despair

Toni Morrison writes in the afterward of the Bluest Eye that the novel was an attempt to say something about why she [Pecola] had not , or possibly ever would have , the experience of what she possessed and also why she prayed for so radical an alteration (210 . Morrison goes on to suggest that the answer to this question is complex , but that her racial self-loathing ' is an obvious factor . I would also argue that restrictive and oppressive gender norms become intertwined with the internalized racism that

plagues Pecola . Pecola 's despair and her obsessive desire for the unattainable seem to result from the fact that there is only one standard of female beauty perpetrated by cultural discourse , and thus Pecola perceives a huge dissonance between her life and the socially constructed images of what she and her life should look like . The Dick and Jane narrative that appears throughout the text is the symbolic source of this conflict , as it represents the racist and sexist discourse that children hear from the very beginning of their lives

The novel opens with a passage from Dick and Jane that describes a very stereotypical house where Mother , Father , Dick and Jane live happily together . The paragraph is then repeated without punctuation or capitalization , making the picture less tangible and more obscure . The narrative is then repeated one more time without spaces , so that it is almost completely unintelligible . This is how Pecola sees this narrative , and all of the many hegemonic discourses that surround her The context , the tone , the bias , and content are almost completely unintelligible , and nowhere has anyone offered an alternative notion of beauty or family life to strive for . Thus Pecola cannot see that the values presented in the narrative are unattainable and gender biased All she knows is that her life does not whatsoever resemble the Dick and Jane narrative that she thinks it should . The deterioration of the words also symbolizes the progressive deterioration of Pecola 's belief in the world that the passage depicts . Because her life does not look like Jane 's seemingly normal and idyllic life , her self-esteem plummets and she becomes intent on becoming more like Jane so that she will be accepted by her parents and her peers

Jane is a happy girl with a pretty dress , a cat and a dog , a nice house and parents that love her . This passage not only teaches children to read , as its context in a reading primer would suggest , but it also teaches them what their world should look like and what they should look like . However , Pecola 's world does not look anything like that : the green paint on her house is peeling , the cat scratches her , she is tricked into poisoning the dog , her mother beats her , and her father rapes her . These fragmented and unintelligible remnants from the Dick and Jane narrative are repeated throughout the novel , as headers for the sections where corresponding events...

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