Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 298–320 | Cite as

Tragedy of the self-splitting—A psychological reading of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye

Research Article
  • 435 Downloads

Abstract

In the novel The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison digs out the negative impacts the mainstream culture exerts on the black people through the depiction of the tragedy of the Breedlove family. The Breedloves are always after their dreams of building an ideal ego in their self-pursuit, but the adverse circumstances in the white-dominated society give them no “Other” to project in their self-building, thus making their frail efforts all in vain. Under such a hostile environment, they are mentally forced to linger in their prolonged mirror stage and this is just the reason for their self-splitting. The Breedloves are stuck in the permanent contradiction of the Mirror Stage, and the insurmountable conflict between their ideal ego and their real life sets the tone for their tragic life. This article attempts to present the mental sufferings the white society sets for the blacks through an analysis of the life track of the Breedloves in accordance with Jacques Lacan’s theory.

Keywords

ideal ego self-building self-splitting mirror stage Toni Morrison 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Awkward, Michael (1989), Inspiring Influences, Tradition, Revision, and Afro-American Women’s Novels, New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bouson, J. Brooks (2000), Quiet As It’s Kept: Shame, Trauma, And Race in the Novels of Toni Morrison, Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  3. Evans, Dylan (1996), An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis, London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Feng, Pin-chia (1998), The Female Bildungsroman by Toni Morrison and Maxine Hong Kingston: A Postmodern Reading, New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  5. Fink, Bruce (2004), Lacan to the Letter: reading “Ecrits” closely, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  6. Furman, Jan (1996), Toni Morrison’s Fiction, Columbia: University of South Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  7. Hamilton, Patrice Cormier (1994), “Black Naturalism and Toni Morrison: The Journey Away from Self-Love in The Bluest Eye,” in MELUS, vol.19, no. 4, (Winter 1994).Google Scholar
  8. Harris, Trudier (1988), “Reconnecting Fragments: Afro-American Folk Tradition in The Bluest Eye,” in Nellie Y. McKay, ed. Critical Essays on Toni Morrison, Boston, Massachusetts: G. K. Hall & Co.Google Scholar
  9. Ho, Wen-ching (1987), “In Search of a Female Self: Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior,” in American Studies, vol. 17, 1987 (3).Google Scholar
  10. Hooks, Bell, Black Looks: Race and Representation, Boston: South End Press.Google Scholar
  11. Klotman, Phyllis R. (1979), “Dick-and-Jane and the Shirley Temple Sensibility in The Bluest Eye”, in Black American Literature Forum, vol. 13, 1979.Google Scholar
  12. Lacan, Jacques (1989), Ecrits: A Selection, trans. Alan Sheridan, London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Lauretis, Teresa de (1984), Alice Doesn’t: Feminism, Semiotics, Cinema, Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  14. LeClair, Thomas (1994), “The Language Must Not Sweat: A Conversation with Toni Morrison,” in Danille Taylor-Guthrie, ed. Conversations with Toni Morrisonm, Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.Google Scholar
  15. Micucci, Dana (1994), “An Inspired Life: Toni Morrison Writes and a Generation Listens,” in Danille Taylor-Guthrie (1994), ed. Conversations with Toni Morrison, Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.Google Scholar
  16. Millard, Kenneth (1970), Contemporary American Fiction: An Introduction to American Fiction since, Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Moi, Toril (2002), Sexual/Textual Politics (2nd ed.), London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Morrison, Toni (1970), The Bluest Eye, New York: Washington Square Press.Google Scholar
  19. Morrison, Toni (1984), “Memory, Creation, and Writing,” in Thought, vol. 59, December 1984.Google Scholar
  20. Morrison, Toni (1994), “Afterword,” in The Bluest Eye, New York: Plume.Google Scholar
  21. Peach, Linden (1995), Toni Morrison, London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  22. Rabate, Jean Michel (2003), ed. The Cambridge Companion to Lacan, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Rigney, Barbara Hill (1991), The Voices of Toni Morrison, Columbus: Ohio State University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Robbins, Ruth (2000), Literary Feminisms, London: Macmillan Press Ltd.Google Scholar
  25. Samuels, Wilfred D. and Clenora Hudson-Weems (1990), Toni Morison, Boston: Twayne Publishers.Google Scholar
  26. Sarat, Austin and Jonathan Simon (2003), eds. Cultural Analysis, Cultural Studies, and the Law: Moving Beyond Legal Realism, Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Stepo, Robert (1994), “Intimate Things in Place: A Conversation with Toni Morrison,” in Danille Taylor-Guthrie, ed. Conversations with Toni Morrison, Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.Google Scholar
  28. Thomson, Rosemarie Garland (1997), Extraordinary Bodies: figuring physical disability in American culture and literature, New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Wallace, Michele (1990), Invisibility Blues from Pop to Theory, New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  30. Wurmser, Léon (1994), The Mask of Shame, Northvale, N.J.: Jason Aronson.Google Scholar
  31. Žižek, Slavoj (2003), ed. Society, Politics, Ideology, London: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of HumanitiesBeijing University of Chinese MedicineBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations