Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye

By Harold Bloom | Go to book overview

LAURIE VICKROY


The Politics of Abuse: The Traumatized Child in
Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye
and Marguerite Duras

With the political liberation of various colonies in the 1950s there also came the recognition of the need for a more profound investigation of the dynamics of oppression and subjugation. In particular, cultural theorists began to focus on the psychological effects of colonization and the emotional strategies employed in response to such pressures. Thus, Ashis Nandy drew attention to the way that the relationship between the colonizer and the colonized was constructed as one of "civilizing" parent/"primitive" child; Frantz Fanon demonstrated the way that racist attitudes could be internalized and could transcend any obvious issue of skin color; and Albert Memmi examined the self-loathing emerging from conditions of oppression, i.e., "injustice, insults, humiliation and insecurity." Similarly, literary critics began to show how psychological theory can help to elucidate not merely the artistic depiction of colonized subjects but also the narrative techniques used in politically-conscious fiction. Patrick Colm Hogan, for example, has used Lacan's notions of the socially imposed ego to explore the relations between cultural domination and madness in Bessie Head's A Question of Power, and Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub have explored the way that traumatic responses are significant factors in the recovery and narration of Holocaust memories.

____________________
From Mosaic 29, no. 2 ( June 1996). © 1996 Mosaic.

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