Inthe case of Ellison’s Invisible Man,the hero once studied in a state college for blacks on a scholarship awarded asa prize for winning a battle royal in which he was forced to join in toentertain a party for white people. He originally had a talent for making beautifulspeeches, and he studied so hard cultivating his intelligence at the college.He never forgot to curry favor with his professors or sponsors by alwaysthinking about what they would want him to do or say. Nonetheless, suddenly heis thrown out because he provokes the president’s anger by an accident.
InThe Bluest Eye, Mrs. Breedlovebecame a live-in housekeeper after her husband, Cholly burned down their house.When she negotiates with shopkeepers as the housekeeper, she exhibits herjustice and power using the name of the Fisher family (her master). But thisivory tower is at the expense of her own self and family. She cries “Crazyfool…my floor, mess…look what you… work…get on out…my floor, my floor…”(p.109)when Pecola spilled a pie in the Fishers’ kitchen, but actually there isnothing that really belongs to her in Fishers’ household. She has a house towork in, but she does not have the house as a home.
She can not live her reallife and she can not bring up her own children.Concerningthe dream to have a home, there is an interesting link with them 9 (1969) by Joyce Carol Oates even though she iswhite and the story is about whites. themis a story about a poor white family struggling through the depression of the1930s, and the novel received the National Book Foundation Award in 1970. Therefollows a quote from a letter to the author from one of the main characters,Maureen Wendall:”I don’task to turn into you but to see myself like this: living in a house out of thecity, a ranch house of a colonial house, with fence around the back, a womanworking in the kitchen, wearing slacks maybe, a baby in his crib in the baby’sroom, thin white gauzy curtains, a bedroom for my husband and me, a window inthe living-room looking out onto the lawn and the street and the house acrossthe street.
Every cell in my body aches for this! My eyes ache for it, theballs of my eyes in their sockets, hungry and aching for this, my God how Iwant that house and that man, whoever he is.” (p.336)Theframework of a decent house and family resembles that of “Dick and Jane’shouse.” It can be said that this is the ideal American middle-class life. Herein them, Maureen depictsherself “working in the kitchen,” so it is clear that she does not yearn forthe lifestyle as an aristocrat. However, even though she dreams of a husbandand child, she does not care about “whoever he is.” Actually her dream comestrue later, and she gets a house just like she wanted, by marrying her eveningcollege professor who had a wife and children.
Behind her fanatic desire, shehad enough reason to do this. Her family always had bitter battles between bothhusband- wife and parents-children, they were poor whites living in a slum, hermother was selfish, and her father was unemployed and was later murdered bysomeone. Wishing to get away from home, she began to save money earning itthrough prostitution, but her money was discovered by her mother’s secondhusband. He was an alcoholic and mistakenly thought that she was alwaysstealing his money, and he beat her up until she was severely injured. She grewup in a slum in Detroit and her life was actually very difficult. Because ofthe setting and era of the story, there are also many episodes or linesreferring to “Negro”/ “niggers”, and there always appear expressions like,”Aren’t you glad you’re not a nigger, at least? Jesus, how’d you like to be anigger and sick on the top of it? I did that much for you at least, kid.”(pp.
343-344) Therefore, it is obvious that even though they are in quite alower class as whites, blacks were still lower than them.Inthe case of The Bluest Eye, allPecola wants is to have blue eyes which means to be accepted and loved bypeople, so she does not care about materialistic fulfillment. Pauline says “myfloor!” for the floor of a white family’s kitchen, so in a sense she has adesire for material satisfaction. However, she does not have the concept ofbecoming the owner of the house in the real meaning.
She is satisfied and proudof herself only through the feeling of being a member of a decent white family,as a housekeeper. Moreover, it is interesting that she does not yearn to haveher own family and live in her own house. It is enough for her to be just aperfect housekeeper and be a member of a white household. There is greatdifference between blacks and whites concerning the concept of the AmericanDream.Morrisonwrites in her essay, “Young America” distinguished itself by, and understooditself to be, pressing toward a future of freedom, a kind of human dignitybelieved unprecedented in the world. A whole tradition of “universal” yearningscollapsed into that well-fondled phrase, “the American Dream.” 10 Freedom, democracy, or chanceetc, there are many words used to represent America with symbols like theStatue of Liberty or Dick and Jane.
Whitman, when he composed poems tocelebrate America, tried to illuminate not only the majority but also theminority. However, it was still a viewpoint from a feeling of superiority.Hughes tried to enlighten us about the invisible truth which was not inWhitman’s American picture. The picture is true in a sense, but there is aninvisible margin and there are marginalized people. Wright and Ellison andother black writers also tried proclaiming their existence to make whites seethem and also to awaken their fellow black men.
Oates tried to show the life ofmarginalized poor white men and poor white women. In The Bluest Eye, Morrison completely covered these gradations anddeepened the analysis of the American dream and delved down to the deepestparts of those invisible areas to which no one had yet referred; black womenand black children. After beginning with a perspective of the country, sheleads her reader to a much closer and deeper view of the communities in thecountry.
This point will be further elaborated on in the next chapter.