This One Summer Versus The Bluest Eye: Comparative Essay

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Each of the two texts, “This One Summer by Julian and Mariko Tamaki”, and “The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison” discuss common Incidences which happen in everyday Lives of teenagers such as Jealousy, problems caused by social standards which these girls just can’t seem to meet. In addition, both these texts portray the agony and suffering caused by unwanted Pregnancy. Pecola in “The Bluest Eye” was impregnated by her father. Jenny was impregnated by Dunc, her boyfriend in “This One Summer”. Both characters had a miscarriage later in the stories. “This One Summer” will serve as the lens text in this paper for “The Bluest Eye”. Since both texts discuss the pains and torments that these two girls suffered in each of these stories, “This One Summer” asserts the challenges that a lot of girls must deal with due to being forced in to a pregnancy. Jenny attempts suicide due to an unwanted pregnancy by Dunc. This was partly influenced by Jenny’s surroundings and mainly the teenagers she was interacting with. Her parent’s problems contributed to her feelings of worthlessness. This is also seen in in Alice, another character in “This One Summer” who fails to tell her daughter Rose that she lost her baby the year prior while swimming. This idea is seen on a greater scale in Pecola’s situation. Her environment in “The Bluest Eye” has led to her adversity. She got impregnated by her own father. Her family and growing up in an African American culture were culprits of her wretched life conditions. All of this led to Pecola’s final self-loathing, negative self-concept and miscarriage. How was the projection of negative social circumstances and the consequent agony and specifically due to unwanted pregnancies in “The Bluest Eye” seen through different characters in “This One Summer”?

The themes in “The Bluest Eye” which are about to be discussed and that are seen through events and characters in “This One Summer” are mainly the escape from reality, the reliance on physical attributes to solve problems and self-sabotage due to social influence.

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It's easy to read the final chapter in “The Bluest Eye” quickly, since it consists mostly of rapid dialogue between Pecola and what appears to be an imaginary friend. But when it’s read more closely, it’s seen how this conversation speaks to two of the major themes in the book: Appearance, Society and Class (Morrison 201). First, this chapter highlights the fact that Pecola's obsession with beauty has evolved throughout the novel. By the end, 'blue eyes' are no longer simply code for white beauty; rather, they are how Pecola makes sense of the rape she has endured. Pecola convinces herself that the reason no one talks to her and the reason her own mother can't make eye contact with her is because everyone is jealous of her eyes (Morrison 199). In the end, it's as if Pecola is shouting, 'You're just jealous!'(Morrison 194) It's just too hard, and Pecola is too young, to admit that the real reason she is being ignored is because she was raped by her father and delivered his child. If someone were to think about the underlying motifs behind this happening, this is a realistic portrayal of the way children and a lot of adults deal with cruelty and teasing. It’s also an example of what someone would do to maintain the status quo. In “This One Summer”, Alice refuses to tell Rose that she had a miscarriage and denies her desire of wanting another baby to maintain the status quo with her daughter Rose. Rose was escaping her parent’s problems and her mom’s desire for another baby by hanging out with her friend Wendy and other teenagers. Rose wasn’t even satisfied with this sort of lifestyle. She immersed herself in this toxic teenage surrounding regardless. Only, to her, it was an escape from the circumstances which her parents subjected her to. She knew that her friendships with people besides Wendy were fake, but she chose to be around such fakeness anyways. This really represents how kids or even a lot of people in society nowadays make up stories in their lives and live those stories as if they were real. Through this lens, one would understand Pecola’s escape from the wretched life circumstances by inventing an imaginary friend. (Morrison 200)

Another form of escape from the wretched life circumstances and the cons which the girls encountered due to unwanted pregnancies is that of the compensation for the social and psychological problems that all three of Pecola from “The Bluest Eye” and Jenny and Rose from “This One Summer” experienced due to their misfortunate life circumstances. In “The Bluest Eye”, We see the consequences of relying on physical beauty to make up for psychological and social problems. If beauty is being used to cover up ugliness, and the world keeps doing ugly things to Pecola, then beauty can never be enough to fight that. Even though Pecola has, in her delusional mind, received blue eyes, she now wonders obsessively, 'what if there's someone with bluer eyes?'(Morrison 200) There will always be someone out there more beautiful than you, and Pecola seems to be an example of how crazy someone can get if they don’t face the ultimate unacknowledged truth that her physical beauty is unreal. Even if it were real, it’s not enough to solve the psychological problems ensued by an unwanted pregnancy and other damaging life conditions she’s encountered thus far. This could also be seen through the lens of “This one Summer”. When Rose and Wendy are both at Awago beach, there happens the conversation of growing breasts. The girls seem to endure agony due being treated disrespectfully by Dunc and his teenage peers (Tamaki 270). Wendy compensates for the lack of attention from Dunc by hoping for bigger breasts. She fantasizes about how a marriage relationship with Dunc would be (Tamaki 30). Rose buys into her illusion reassuring her that she will grow bigger breasts (Tamaki 37). Both Wendy and Rose also escape the ultimate truth that Dunc isn’t interested in them. He ends up impregnating one of their friends, Jennie. Rose on the other hand, is firm that she’ll follow her mother’s footsteps who also has big breasts. Even if both Rose and Wendy grow bigger breasts, this still won’t be enough to rectify their situations in both these texts. What the girls refuse to acknowledge is that physical attributes can’t compensate for lack and predicaments in other areas of their lives. Resorting to beauty and physical compensation is an escape from their problems.

Also, the eventual self-loathing and anger is seen in “The Bluest Eye” as well as in “This One Summer”. In “The bluest Eye”, Pecola eventually withers. She has an unwanted baby from Cholly. Finally, the ending reminds us that Pecola's 'madness,” is not her fault but is embedded in her community. The chapter begins with a quote from the initial Dick and Jane grammar school primer that is the book's epigraph, at the point in the story where a 'friend' comes to play with Jane. The epigraph says, 'THEYWILLPLAYAGOODGAME.'(Morrison 5) It's painfully ironic that this excerpt foregrounds the theme of friendship. Pecola doesn't have any real friends, only this voice inside her head. Perhaps the unseen tragedy of the novel is that in ignoring her completely, Pecola's community forces her into such devastating loneliness that she must imagine someone talking to her. The community commits a crime on a par with Cholly’s abuse. If Cholly failed her by raping her, Pecola's community failed her by never acknowledging that a rape took place. By this allusion, Morrison illustrates that Pecola’s life is an imitation of the real experiences of black women. Morrison also uses metaphors to describe the conditions under which African-Americans in general and Pecola are forced to live. There are two major metaphors in The Bluest Eye, one of marigolds and one of dandelions. Claudia, looking back as an adult, says in the beginning of the novel, “there were no marigolds in the fall of 1941” (Morrison 200). She and her sister plant marigold seeds with the belief that if the marigolds would grow and survive, so would Pecola’s baby (Morrison 185). Morrison unpacks the metaphor throughout the book, and, through Claudia, finally explains it and broadens its scope to all African-Americans on the last page. “I even think now that the land of the entire country was hostile to marigolds that year. Certain seeds it will not nurture, certain fruits it will not bear . . .” (Morrison 193).The implication is that Pecola, like so many other African-Americans, never had a chance to grow and succeed because she lived in a society (“soil”) that was inherently racist and would not nurture her. The other flower, the dandelion, is important as a metaphor because it represents Pecola’s image of herself. Pecola passes some dandelions going into Mr. Jakubowski’s store. “Why, she wonders, do people call them weeds? She thought they were pretty”. After Mr. Jakubowski humiliates her, she again passes the dandelions and thinks; “They are ugly. They are weeds”.(Morrison 156). She has transferred society’s dislike of her to the dandelions. Claudia, Pecola’s companion in “The Bluest Eye” often finds it necessary to fight for herself, because other children try to put her down while adults are too busy with their own affairs and only notice children when there is working to be done. Claudia finds a lot of her anger and aggression directed towards the little white dolls that she receives as presents. It seems to her that these white dolls are given more love and attention than a little black child such as herself (Morrison 134). This is one of the most obvious Metaphors asserted by “This One Summer”. Wendy and Rose pick milkweeds from a nearby garden (Tamaki 31). They both thought they were one of the most beautiful flowers they had ever seen in their lives (Tamaki 31). They were so happy with these flowers until Alice, Rose’s mother told them that milkweeds are poisonous (Tamaki 34). After that, every time Milkweeds are mentioned, Wendy makes a “hurling sound” (Tamaki 35). Through this lens, a reader could understand this obviously recurrent cycle of projection of feelings that is going on in “The Bluest Eye”. Pecola transfers her hate on to the weeds and sees them differently to protect her ego. Claudia projects her hatred on White dolls (Morrison 59). The realty is she’s jealous of the dolls. She projects the inflicted contempt on other things in society as a defensive mechanism. The beauty of the milkweeds vanishes from Rose’s and Wendy’s eyes after Alice changes their views (Tamaki 34). This shows the psychological impact that society has on people to the extent that they could drastically change their view of a certain matter due to this influence. Also, the meaning of the metaphor in “The Bluest Eye” is seen in “This One Summer”. Rose and Wendy don’t stand a chance against the toxic factors they’re encountering daily. They’re surrounded by these drunk teenagers who alongside the girls’ parents randomly use curse words. They have access to X-rated material and horror movies (Tamaki 62) and they are ignored and left alone most of the time by the people who should care most for them, their parents. These really shows how the environment always finds a way to change youngsters in the society and shape who they’ll be in the future. Pecola’s later circumstances and her final self-sabotage were a direct result of her own race and community failing her. Rose and Wendy were transitioning into adulthood unsoundly due to their environment.

A good note to end with is a brief discussion of the way these two stories are told. The narrative in “This One Summer” seems to speak directly and graphically to girls in their early teens. “The Bluest Eye” on the other hand, seems to speak to the reader through words, only the used language seems to be one that would only come out of a 15-year-old. This shows that the purpose of each of these books goes hand in hand. Both aim to demonstrate the hardships that a lot of girls endure during their transition to adulthood. Only, one, “The Bluest Eye” tends to demonstrate harsher ordeals.

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