Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Claudia's Poetry Notebook: Celebrating The Bluest Eye

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison has exisited longer than I have, but the messages within the novel are as valid today, as they were when it was published in 1970. Pecola is often the character many focus their attention on, because of her desire for blue eyes, and other troubling events in her young life, but I felt myself latching on to Claudia during my third reading of Morrison's novel.

I imagined what Claudia might write in a notebook about her experiences, if she felt that poetry was the only way she could express her thoughts. The idea was plausible, given how children and adults communicated with each other in her household, "We didn't initiate talk with grown-ups; we answered their questions" (23). Being the younger sister, Claudia harbored feelings of jealousy towards Frieda experiencing everything first, admitting she was "sick and tired of Frieda knowing everything," eliminating her as a viable confidant (28).

What would she write after listening to Frieda and Pecola gush about Shirley Temple?

…accept me?

I can pretend to
love and worship the Shirleys
but when can I stop? Can I learn to…
Claudia's dislike for Shirley Temple was "because she danced with Bojangles, who was my friend, my uncle, my daddy..." and it hurt her that Shirley Temple - a White girl - got the opportunity to be with her idol. By this point in the novel, Claudia has developed a mask to diguise the hatred she feels towards White girls as a group, but she reveals a more "frightening" revelation from a previous Christmas experience.

…black me.

Destroying baby
dolls, digging inside to see
the special that makes them better than…
Instead of appreciating the baby doll Claudia receives as a gift, she demolishes it, in an effort to discover why everyone finds them - White girls - beautiful, and ultimately to figure out why Black girls aren't.

...except me.

Surely, the Shirleys
of the world aren’t the only
beauties, but everyone believes it…
Claudia is repulsed by the ease at which she feels the same destruction could be applied to a real White girl. It shames her into a masquerade where she feels a "fradulent love" instead of sadistic thoughts, which Morrison remarks "that the change was adjustment without improvement" (23).


Claudia said...

Hi Evelyn! I love this imaginative experiment and the new perspective it brings to ongoing conversation on TBE. Given how introspective Claudia is in the novel, I can certainly see her as a poet. (And I'm going to have to start using that phrase, "the Shirleys.") I like how the last poem's "except me" also sounds like "accept me." Or am I reading too much into that?

Thanks so much for contributing to the roundtable!

evelyn.n.alfred said...

Thank you Claudia for the compliment and for the comment. You aren't reading too much into it. I'm didn't think anyone would notice that.

evelyn.n.alfred said...

I mean "I didn't think."
Typos suck eggs.

Poor lonely post.

Doret said...

I could easliy see Claudia writing a poem or two. I doubt she would've kept a journal, for fear of her mother finding and reading it.

Surely the Shirleys - love that,

evelyn.n.alfred said...

You are right Doret, she would have been fearful of her mom finding it...unless her poetry was so abstract her mother couldn't understand. lol!