Yearning for Beauty. The Expression of Melancholy in Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye”
4th International Interdisciplinary Memory Conference “Memory, Melancholy and Nostalgia” (17-18 Semptember, 2015 in Gdansk)
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The purpose of the paper is to discuss the sources and results of melancholy in Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye with reference to Dominick LaCapra’s theory based on a distinction between loss and absence. LaCapra claims that the former concept refers to a particular event, while the latter cannot be identified with any specific point in time or object. What is more, LaCapra admits that absence may result in melancholy, i.e. the state in which the individual remains possessed by a negative emotion because there is no possibility of working it through. The idea of absence causing melancholy is exemplified by the protagonist of The Bluest Eye, Pecola Breedlove. The girl dreams about acquiring blue eyes that belong to the prevailing white model of beauty which excludes African-American features. The feeling of absence is intensified by the U.S. education system aimed at promoting the lifestyle and characteristics of white Americans, her own mother who prefers serving white people to taking care of her own children, and the peers that constantly stigmatize Pecola for ugliness. Consequently, she becomes obsessed with the unattainable blue eyes. Since there is no chance for her to be accepted and thus cope with the absence of white features, the girl suffers from melancholy which leads her to insanity and exclusion from society.
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