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Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

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Essay title: Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Although the main characters of the stories Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison have different destinis they both face their tragic fate because they could not change their ideals. Thus, Pecola always carries with her the insecurities caused by the ideas of other people on beauty and eventually it makes her think that white beauty is the highest standard of beauty. She could not realize that anyone who truly loves her does not value her beauty but her personality. Okonkwo was, also, unable to alter his beliefs regarding cultural changes which took place in his village and this is why his village did not recognized his actions as heroic, this is why his village survived and he was not able to. Even though the actions of both characters can be considered as struggle with the white culture they were struggling with themselves because they could not accept the variety that exists in the world and without which the progress is impossible.

Whether the destruction takes the form of war and bloodshed or the quiet process of forgetting the old - one breaks down and is pushed aside to make way for the new. Okonkwo’s fatherland, Umuofia, was introduced to a redefinition fueled by its youths’ eagerness for change and accepted by the elders with wisdom and foresight. Between the two parties stood Okonkwo with a fiery rash mind matched with attachment to the years past, a combination locked towards the destruction that results to all antediluvian things. In the end Okonkwo knew no means of existence other than his defunct definition of heroism, which ultimately assured his destruction in the new culture.

Culture is rarely lost; rather it becomes remodeled as influences act upon it. Umuofia progressed away from the masculine dominated culture and embraced rationality. Okonkwo never experienced the transition. He was exiled and isolated from the happenings; he remained static as the world about him changed. The people did not lose their beliefs; they accepted the white man’s offering of values and by being dynamic they survived. Change in culture is not only necessary it is inevitable. To Okonkwo his village had become weak and little values remained. Upon his return to his town of Umuofia, Okonkwo noticed changes amongst his people, they were divided, and they had become like women to him: “He mourned for the clan, which he saw breaking up and falling apart, and he mourned for the warlike men of Umuofia, who had so unaccountably become soft like women.” (Achebe 183) People had become attracted to the “new religion” which in turn divided the clan, something he viewed as intolerable and pertaining only to those weak of mind. His clan members had forgotten their traditional ways of life and he condemned them for this.

When he returned from exile and took notice of the growing British influence in Umuofia he felt betrayed, as he did when his own son Nwoye, began to follow Christianity. All of Okonkwo’s hopes and dreams were rooted in the continuance of the traditional culture he was accustomed to. The harsh laws he had previously defended and administered seemed to have been forgotten in only seven years. Okonkwo hoped to recover his past authority by solving these new problems of religion, in the old way. But the old ways are no longer applicable, for the tribe was now divided. The fact that he had not been able to gradually accustom himself to the new ways helped to explain his extreme reaction to Christianity: “He knew that he had lost his place among the nine masked spirits who administered justice in the clan. He had lost the chance to lead his warlike clan against the new religion, which, he was told, had gained ground.”(Achebe 171) Okonkwo was disgusted that his clan did not drive the white men and their church out.

Maybe, Okonkwo’s thinking isn’t wrong although he easily forgets that he too defies the historical practices. On two instances his actions clearly go against some of the most sacred rules that all before him abode by. The first infraction he committed against his beloved forefathers was the violation of the week of peace; the second occurred when he did not listen to the advice of his elders and had a hand in the death of his quasi son Ikemefuna. So as it seems the very thing Okonkwo died fighting was not as foreign as he may have thought. Achebe shows that above all change is the only constant.

As well as Okonkwo who feels attached to the old rules and does not believe that the old and the new traditions may co-exist in one culture, Pecola does not recognize that there are different definitions of beauty which can both (no matter whether they black or white) exist in one society. Thus, Pecola has a set scale of beauty in her mind, and she looks upon small things and analyzes their beauty. She evaluates inanimate things, such as dandelions. As she

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