me your tired, your poor,

huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift
my lamp beside the golden door!”

This is
a quotation from the poem, “The New Colossus” (1883) by Emma Lazarus,
and is inscribed on the American symbol, the Statue of Liberty. However, this
enormous American dream has both a bright side and a dark side. This chapter
will analyze the invisibility of a minority people inside the white-centered
American dream framework, and how the minority people try to exist as a part of

American Dream and the invisibility of the minority:

prologue of The Bluest Eye
begins with the familiar elementary school story of Dick and Jane which is
symbolically quoted and occurs in the story seven times, and which is
ironically paralleled with the situation of the characters as the story goes

is the house. It is green and white. It has a red 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. See Jane. She has a red dress. She wants to play.
Who will play with Jane? See the cat. It goes meow-meow. Come and play. Come
play with Jane. The kitten will not play. See Mother. Mother is nice. Mother,
will you play with Jane? Mother laughs. Laugh, Mother, laugh. See Father. He is
big and strong. Father, will you play with Jane? Father is smiling.

father, smile. See the dog. Bowwow goes the dog. Do you want to play with Jane?
See the dog run. Run, dog, run. Look, look. Here comes a friend. The friend
will play with Jane. They will play a good time. Play, Jane, play. (p.3)

the story continues, this repeated quotation which portrays white America by
degrees, loses its capitalization and punctuation, and all grammatical
structure. In an interview with Thomas LeClair in 1981, Morrison, when
referring to this quotation, stated that she wanted to make her readers
visually see the difference of what it was like to see the white life-style as
another civilization from the viewpoint of blacks. In the same interview she
also says, “What is hard for me is to be simple, to have uncomplex stories with
complex people in them, to clean the language, really clean it.” (p.123).
Morrison’s attempt resembles what Langston Hughes did in 1925 in his poem, “I,
too” or “Let America Be America Again”. Whitman celebrated American democracy
and he “sang” for both males and females on an equal level. He covered the
people of almost all social classes and races in magnificent poems such as,
“One’s Self Sing”, “I Hear America Singing”, “America” or “Song of Myself” 6 from his hopeful viewpoint. They
were excellent poems; nevertheless, the reality was far from his vision. So
Hughes “sang” the reality of black life with the implications of those of
Whitman’s, by saying, “I, too, sing America…I am the darker brother…I, too, am
America.” 7 Hughes changed Whitman’s poem
from a white point of view into a black point of view while following almost
the same process of description as Whitman. Whitman had an expansive vision for
his America as a land of many races. He was white, he was a person of the early
19th century, but he already had feelings and consideration for minority
people. Furthermore, he treated this issue in his poems many times. Hughes was
a big fan of Whitman, so his intention to cover and arrange Whitman’s poem was
not to take revenge on him for his poem. The real America was not like the
ideal future vision described by Whitman one hundred years ago. That’s why
Hughes entitled his poem “Let America be America Again” or “I, too, sing
America”. Here “America” implies the way Whitman described the ideal “America”
(1888). Morrison was born 30 years after Hughes and The Bluest Eye was written three years after Hughes’s death. The
situation of racial discrimination was still severe although it was much better
than the slavery era. When we compare the style Hughes followed and the way he
arranged Whitman’s “America” we see it is in a positive way, whereas Morrison’s
style and arrangement of Dick & Jane’s “America” is very negative and
introspective. All the characters in The
Bluest Eye are Americans who have been living there for several
generations. However, their existence is negated in the scenes about Dick and
Jane because they are colored people. 
This quotation intimates  that the
reason why the seeds of marigolds  did
not sprout, is because , “the land of the entire country was hostile” (p.206)
and, “This soil is bad for certain kinds of flowers. Certain seeds it will not
nurture, certain fruit will not bear, and when the land kills of its own
volition, we acquire and say the victim had no right to live”. (p.206) So these
happy, peaceful, and innocent lines in Dick and Jane represent the tacit
approval of every value standard and the casting vote for life and death.
Morrison uses an effective symbol in the prologue using the seeds of the
marigolds which did not sprout because of the unyielding earth. The marigolds
and the earth symbolize the influence of the environment on the individual
which builds one’s personality. This quotation concerning Dick and Jane substantiates
the invisibility of marginalized people in America, but Morrison arranged this
to illustrate America from the point of view of marginalized people.

The Bluest Eye, Morrison shows
us specific examples of the invisibility and the negligence exhibited toward
marginalized people. She employs a symbolic episode about a traumatic sofa in
the Breedlove house. They bought it new, but the fabric had split straight
across the back by the time it was delivered. The store would not take
responsibility, and the white man who delivered the sofa palmed them off with
half-truths and tried to confuse them probably because they were black. It
means a white man would have no hesitation in giving them defective products,
and he also does not care or is not afraid of what they may feel or if they
would get angry. Another example is when Mrs. Breedlove was in hospital to
deliver Pecola, she was examined by a white doctor and young white interns. The
doctor has no hesitation in instructing his students in front of her, saying
“now these here woman you don’t have any trouble. They deliver right away and
with no pain. Just like horses.” (p.125) She gets furious, and deliberately
made her delivery exaggerated by screaming.

to participate in the American Dream

the case of Ellison’s Invisible Man,
the hero once studied in a state college for blacks on a scholarship awarded as
a prize for winning a battle royal in which he was forced to join in to
entertain a party for white people. He originally had a talent for making beautiful
speeches, and he studied so hard cultivating his intelligence at the college.
He never forgot to curry favor with his professors or sponsors by always
thinking about what they would want him to do or say. Nonetheless, suddenly he
is thrown out because he provokes the president’s anger by an accident.

The Bluest Eye, Mrs. Breedlove
became a live-in housekeeper after her husband, Cholly burned down their house.
When she negotiates with shopkeepers as the housekeeper, she exhibits her
justice and power using the name of the Fisher family (her master). But this
ivory tower is at the expense of her own self and family. She cries “Crazy
fool…my floor, mess…look what you… work…get on out…my floor, my floor…”(p.109)
when Pecola spilled a pie in the Fishers’ kitchen, but actually there is
nothing that really belongs to her in Fishers’ household. She has a house to
work in, but she does not have the house as a home. She can not live her real
life and she can not bring up her own children.

the dream to have a home, there is an interesting link with them 9 (1969) by Joyce Carol Oates even though she is
white and the story is about whites. them
is a story about a poor white family struggling through the depression of the
1930s, and the novel received the National Book Foundation Award in 1970. There
follows a quote from a letter to the author from one of the main characters,
Maureen Wendall:

“I don’t
ask to turn into you but to see myself like this: living in a house out of the
city, a ranch house of a colonial house, with fence around the back, a woman
working in the kitchen, wearing slacks maybe, a baby in his crib in the baby’s
room, thin white gauzy curtains, a bedroom for my husband and me, a window in
the living-room looking out onto the lawn and the street and the house across
the street. Every cell in my body aches for this! My eyes ache for it, the
balls of my eyes in their sockets, hungry and aching for this, my God how I
want that house and that man, whoever he is.” (p.336)

framework of a decent house and family resembles that of “Dick and Jane’s
house.” It can be said that this is the ideal American middle-class life. Here
in them, Maureen depicts
herself “working in the kitchen,” so it is clear that she does not yearn for
the lifestyle as an aristocrat. However, even though she dreams of a husband
and child, she does not care about “whoever he is.” Actually her dream comes
true later, and she gets a house just like she wanted, by marrying her evening
college professor who had a wife and children. Behind her fanatic desire, she
had enough reason to do this. Her family always had bitter battles between both
husband- wife and parents-children, they were poor whites living in a slum, her
mother was selfish, and her father was unemployed and was later murdered by
someone. Wishing to get away from home, she began to save money earning it
through prostitution, but her money was discovered by her mother’s second
husband. He was an alcoholic and mistakenly thought that she was always
stealing his money, and he beat her up until she was severely injured. She grew
up in a slum in Detroit and her life was actually very difficult. Because of
the setting and era of the story, there are also many episodes or lines
referring to “Negro”/ “niggers”, and there always appear expressions like,
“Aren’t you glad you’re not a nigger, at least? Jesus, how’d you like to be a
nigger and sick on the top of it? I did that much for you at least, kid.”
(pp.343-344) Therefore, it is obvious that even though they are in quite a
lower class as whites, blacks were still lower than them.

the case of The Bluest Eye, all
Pecola wants is to have blue eyes which means to be accepted and loved by
people, so she does not care about materialistic fulfillment. Pauline says “my
floor!” for the floor of a white family’s kitchen, so in a sense she has a
desire for material satisfaction. However, she does not have the concept of
becoming the owner of the house in the real meaning. She is satisfied and proud
of herself only through the feeling of being a member of a decent white family,
as a housekeeper. Moreover, it is interesting that she does not yearn to have
her own family and live in her own house. It is enough for her to be just a
perfect housekeeper and be a member of a white household. There is great
difference between blacks and whites concerning the concept of the American

writes in her essay, “Young America” distinguished itself by, and understood
itself to be, pressing toward a future of freedom, a kind of human dignity
believed unprecedented in the world. A whole tradition of “universal” yearnings
collapsed into that well-fondled phrase, “the American Dream.” 10 Freedom, democracy, or chance
etc, there are many words used to represent America with symbols like the
Statue of Liberty or Dick and Jane. Whitman, when he composed poems to
celebrate America, tried to illuminate not only the majority but also the
minority. However, it was still a viewpoint from a feeling of superiority.
Hughes tried to enlighten us about the invisible truth which was not in
Whitman’s American picture. The picture is true in a sense, but there is an
invisible margin and there are marginalized people. Wright and Ellison and
other black writers also tried proclaiming their existence to make whites see
them and also to awaken their fellow black men. Oates tried to show the life of
marginalized poor white men and poor white women. In The Bluest Eye, Morrison completely covered these gradations and
deepened the analysis of the American dream and delved down to the deepest
parts of those invisible areas to which no one had yet referred; black women
and black children. After beginning with a perspective of the country, she
leads her reader to a much closer and deeper view of the communities in the
country. This point will be further elaborated on in the next chapter.


I'm Erica!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out