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Common Racial Themes Shared in Faulkner and Morrison Free essay! Download now

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Common Racial Themes Shared in Faulkner and Morrison

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Downloads to date: N/A | Words: 458 | Submitted: 21-Nov-2011
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Common Racial Themes Shared in Faulkner and Morrison


Common Racial Themes Shared in Faulkner and Morrison
In spite of obvious racial and gender differences between William Faulkner (1897-1962) and Toni Morrison (1931-present), both authors approach race as a means of social separation. American society throughout history has focused on such separations to establish a defined hierarchy, based both on race and gender. In Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, race is used to demean black Americans; standards of beauty were based on what appeared to be the closest in resemblance to white Americans. Traditionally African features such as broad noses and full lips were deemed unattractive and therefore socially inferior, as evidenced by The Bluest Eye's protagonists with the fair-skinned Maureen Peal. William Faulkner's Light in August approaches race as a means of gendered power. Faulkner's works showcase the ambiguity in gender lines, and Light in August is no different. Miscegenation, a central topic, melds with gender differences in empowering white characters as masculine and black characters as neutered. Joe Christmas, a character whose racial background is shrouded throughout most of the novel, is constantly berated and indirectly belittled by powerful white figures such as his stepfather and a later lover. His death, presented at the apex of the novel (also coinciding with verification of his mixed-race background), is most significant in its portrayal of Joe Christmas' castration and murder at the hands of authorities.
The Bluest Eye
Morrison's portrayal of race touches on several important points reflecting the social climate of the time. First, being white is aesthetically more desirable than being black. Second, being black equivocates to hardship, and third, being white transcends all aspects of being black in the social hierarchy.
Race and Ethnicity
Claudia and Frieda encounter the phenomena of racial aesthetics with the introduction of Maureen Peal, a fair-complexioned black girl who, despite being born with an unusual amount of birth defects, is preferred by the black boys and girls. Maureen is born with six fingers on each hand with slightly noticeable stumps where her extra fingers used to be, a significant mutation and something that would erstwhile earn her the cruel taunting of most all the children had it not been for her fair skin (Morrison 63). More noticeable is the contempt Maureen garners from Claudia and Frieda, who take closer notice to her dog tooth, relishing what physical imperfections they can find (Morrison 63). If anything, the girls' spite is a jealousy harboured because they too desire to be as light-skinned and supposedly beautiful as Maureen. Further accentuating the social favour of white aesthetic superiority, Maureen denigrates Claudia, Frieda and Pecola, screaming that she is cute [and they are] black and ugly black e mos [sic], presumably differentiating herself from the three by pointing out her fairness ...

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