Dissertation > Literature > Literary Theory > Countries in Literature

An Analysis of the Bluest Eye under Trauma Theory

Author ChenZuo
Tutor WangHaiYan
School Wuhan University of Technology
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords trauma theory collective trauma individual trauma healing methods
CLC I712.074
Type Master's thesis
Year 2013
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Toni Morrison received the Nobel Prize in1993. As the first black woman writer to obtain the prominent achievement, Toni Morrison who is recognized as one of the most distinguished novelists has a profound influence in literary world. Her achievement in novels is marked as a milestone in the history of African-American literature. Morrison is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of black culture. Her works focus on the marginalized life of the blacks, especially the black women who are on the edge of the society.The Bluest Eye, her maiden work, published in1970, has attracted the attention of critics and authors. The novel is a touching story about black girl Pecola Breedlove who indulges herself in the illusion that she has a pair of blue eyes so that she could receive admiration and esteem from other people. At last, she realizes her dream in her mad world and falls into a miserable abyss of traumas. To some extent the protagonists and other characters in the novel suffer from collective trauma and personal trauma by manifesting complicated symptoms of trauma. The main characters suffer from different traumas in the novel. As a representative of collective black men’s trauma, Cholly is traumatized by his early tragic experience. Pauline, a victim of collective black women’s trauma undergoes the trauma of family violence and community contempt. Like other black children in the novel, Pecola’s trauma results from family apartness and community exclusion. Each kind of trauma has an adverse impact on the main characters. The thesis attempts to analyze the novel from the perspective of trauma theory. By illustrating the symptoms of trauma, the thesis tries to dig out the unspeakable pain inflicted on the mind of the main characters in the novel and explains their efforts to work through trauma. By requesting the identity in the society, integrating the past into the present, and enhancing the relationship with other people in the community, it shed lights on the possibility of elevating from trauma and constructing new attitudes towards the world. However, the black who suffer from the deep pain of trauma are doomed to fail to get rid of the nightmare which haunts them for a long time. Cholly drinks excessively and transfers his hatred to his wife and daughter by sexually abusing his daughter to escape from the nightmare of early experience, which means that he fails to integrate the past memory into the present life. After the traumatic experience, Pauline loses the ability to love, which also indicates that she completely loses her female identity. Pecola’s insaneness shows that her rejects to melt into white community by finding herself in the mad world.

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