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Hard Times and the Bluest Eye

16 Nov 2017Essay Samples

Introduction

The Bluest Eye has been written by Toni Morrison that is based on Claudia Mac Teer’s perspective, who is a nine-year-old child. Claudia and her sister Frieda tell the story of the Breedlove family who has recently moved from the rural south to urban Lorain, Ohio. Morrison builds story with the help of Claudia’s point of view i.e. how she perceives the displacement of the family and how it contributes to the dysfunctional family’s decline. Of course this is coupled with the fact that the Breedlove is extremely poor and are subjected to grinding working conditions in order to make a living for themselves. Claudia traces the descent of Pecola Breedlove into madness with the help of flashbacks and temporal shifts. On the other hand, Charles Dickens Hard Times is the archetypal Dickens novel according to some sources that encompasses family problems, estrangement, rotten values and unhappiness. The book is about Thomas Gradgrind who is obsessed with misguided utilitarian values which makes him rely on facts and statistics instead of emotions. Not only this but he also enforces his own belief upon his family thereby leading to their decline particularly that of her daughter Louisa.

Thesis Statement

The following essay will attempt to explicate what it means to be coming of age in the novels The Bluest Eye and Hard Times.

The Coming of Age in the Novels

An important theme to consider in both the novels is the coming of age of young ones, how it manifests itself in the story and the issues that come with it. Consider The Bluest Eye for example. Right at the beginning of the novel one is told that Pecola Breedlove is the victim of her father’s insatiable appetite for sex and has been impregnated by him in the process (Morrison, 1970). Pecola is eleven years old and has obviously reached puberty. Pecola is beaten by her mother for becoming pregnant and she gets blamed for all that is happening in her family. It is important to note that all this occurs when Pecola was already at a very vulnerable stage of her life i.e. adolescence and her parents make matters worse for her by abusing her in the worst possible way (Morrison, 1970). Pecola realizes that her transformation has caused nothing but trouble for her and at some subconscious she probably wishes to become a child again (Morrison, 1970).

Another way of analyzing Pecola’s adolescence in the novel is that she becomes obsessed with her looks. She is repeatedly told that she is ugly and starts obsessing about the way she looks, a habit that is distinguished by the onslaught of puberty. She realizes that the kind of beauty that she desires is strictly unattainable and is defined by white standards. This combined with the fact that she gets blamed for everything eventually causes her to lose her mind and she begins to think that she finally has ‘blue eyes’ (Morrison, 1970). Thus coming of age in Pecola’s case manifests itself in the form of insanity, low self-esteem and a perpetual guilt trip.

The coming of age in Hard Times on the other hand is portrayed in a different light and some very interesting issues come into focus. For one thing Louisa Gradgrind fancies herself to be in love with someone else whereas her father forces her to marry Josiah Bounderby (Dickens, 1990). One cannot ascertain Louisa’s age in the novel but given the trend of teenage marriages during the time when this book was written, one must assume that Louisa was indeed an adolescent. Moreover the fanciful notions of love that she holds in her head can only be a product of a teenage mind. Thus the most obvious implication of the coming of age in Dickens’s novel is that it is accompanied by puppy love and daydreaming (Dickens, 1990).

Not only this but also one can see that Gradgrind’s attempt to play the part of a dictator in his own household breeds resentment against him and his adolescent children rebel in ways that the society of that time deemed tolerable if not acceptable. For instance Gradgrind’s son Thomas steals from the bank because he does not wish to remain employed under Bounderby, which was what his father wanted (Dickens, 1990). Thus Thomas steals probably to rebel in as covert manner as no one knows of his dealings initially. Hence one can say that the coming of age in Hard Times manifests itself in the form of covert rebellion, puppy love, daydreaming and emotional turmoil. Do you want that dissertation written for you? We can do it the best)

Bibliography

  1. Dickens, Charles. Hard Times. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1990.
  2.  Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1970. 

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