Core Facts

Novels Essay Research Assignment

     There are no barriers separating upper and lower social class categories when it comes to emotional devastation. In the Novels, The Bluest Eye and The Great Gatsby, both authors shed light upon the issues of troubled lives in two social class families. The characters in both novels come from opposite backgrounds and opposite social class status, yet their trials and traumas are very similar, including in marriage.

In the novel, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, she tells a story about a family named the Breedloves. They are a poverty stricken Black family of four, living life in a rundown home, are uneducated, and their physical appearance is lacking much to be desired. She describes their appearance as wearing a “cloak of ugliness (39).” Mrs. Breedlove, as she is referred to in the novel, is married to a man named Cholly. Mrs. Breedlove, Pauline, deals with her brazen, demanding, uncaring husband Cholly, by fighting back verbally and physically (43-44). She knows she’ll never leave Cholly because her social status keeps her chained to dealing with what life has handed out to her. She is unattractive, Black, and her options for love are limited. The author describes their surrounds as having one huge room divided by beaverboard planks, one toilet bowl without facilities, and furniture handed down from state to state. Their home is partitioned into two rooms, short of reaching the ceiling, equaling a living room and one bedroom. The three iron beds are described as narrow. There is a coal stove in the center of the bedroom to distribute heat evenly through the house. They have no bath facilities, except a toilet bowl. Also, two sofas, an upright piano, and a tiny two year standing, artificial Christmas tree, a small end table and a “wardrobe” closet. She says, there’s nothing more to say about the furnishing. It is aged, and handed down, even from state to state, except for the new sofa that they had purchased. But it had been gashed when moving it to their home—the gash soon becoming a gaping chasm exposing the even cheaper upholstery (34-39). Her escape is to work outside of the home for a rich White family, cleaning and taking care of their little girl who she seems to favor over her own children.  She indulges in the luxury of the possessions of others while her two children, Pecola who is eleven, and Sammy who is fourteen, and Cholly, never get to taste the pleasures of her daily escape (127-28). At the end of the day, she goes back to the lowlife way of living, the lack of luxury or even middle class living, the deprivation of the love and attention she once experienced in her younger years when her husband perused her. Mrs. Breedlove has no option for a lover as she is described as an ugly woman. She doesn’t escape into the arms of a lover, but rather into lovely surroundings, feeling needed, wanted, and indispensible. The Breedloves have no outside influential friends to help them or come to their rescue if needed.

In the novel, The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, he tells a story about a family named the Buchanans. They are a wealthy family of three, living in a very elaborate mansion-style house, well educated, and beauty is in their physical appearance. Daisy took her face in her hands as if feeling its lovely shape (16). Tom is muscle built; shinning arrogant eyes (7).  The Buchanas home is described as a Georgian Colonial mansion, overlooking the bay; a quarter-mile lawn from beach to front door, brick walks and burning gardens (6); a sunken Italian garden, a half acre of deep pungent roses, and a snub-nosed mother-boat. French windows, wine colored rug, with an oversized long couch, long flowing curtains, and rugs (8); a library, a crimson room, a chain of connecting verandas to the front porch, and wicker settee (16-17).

Daisy deals with her husband named Tom, by acting pretentiously happy, carefree and lively. Tom has disrespect for women in general. He’s having an affair, but his lover Myrtle comes from lower class (24-26). Daisy fights back by indulging in an affair with a now-wealthy ex-boyfriend, Jay Gatsby, who moves back to the area after being gone many years (86). However, in her heart, she knows she’ll never leave Tom because he is her security, having worked and provided money to support her as opposed to her ex lover Jay Gatsby, who inherited his wealth, so he claimed (129-34). Daisy stays in her superficial life knowing Tom is an unfaithful man. She has the beauty to continue escaping from her marriage if she so desires, and the affordability to come back when she pleases. Her affairs make her feel needed, wanted, loved and much desired.

Abuse and violence is apparent in the two men in the novels. One man is upper social class, one is lower social class. Both are abusive to women. Tom Buchanan breaks the nose of a woman named Myrtle, his adulteress girlfriend (37). Cholly Breedlove beats his wife, Mrs. Breadlove (43-44). Even after Myrtle is killed by Daisy’s hit and run, and Gatsby is murdered by Wilson, Myrtles husband, both Tom and Daisy leave town not caring about the deaths of the two who are dead, even though they each had apparently held love for them (138, 164).  Cholly Breedlove, drinks, gets drunk. But strangely enough, the author states that Pauline needs Chollys sins so she could feel higher and more powerful than him (42). Tom Buchanan drinks and gets drunk

Both marriages overflow with unhappiness and deceit. One marriage is centered on an over abundance of money and wealth, and the other is laced with shameful poverty and disgrace. Both women in each of the novels find their own way of escaping the bondage of loneliness, but never find a solution. Both are opposite social class, yet very much the same—depression in poverty and depression in prosperity.

There is also acceptance by association and rejection by association. Pecola is constantly rejected by her peers because she is associated with the Black race, she’s poor, and she’s not attractive. She is accepted by Frieda and Claudia, her two best friends, who are also associated with the Black race, and are poor. Nick, though he’s not rich, is accepted into the high life because of Daisy, who is his cousin, and is very wealthy by being associated with her husband Tom, who is very wealthy. Even Jay Gatsby accepts Nick, who is associated with Daisy, because he wants Nick to lure Daisy over to his home. Jay Gatsby, who in essence is not rich, is accepted by having been associated with someone who had money and left him an inheritance, and he became rich. Nick also had an affair with a wealthy lady named Jordon who was associated with his cousin Daisy.

According to an article from a scholarly journal called, Poverty, social inequality and mental health, written by Vijava Murali and Femi Oyebode, alcohol and substance misuse, personality disorders, and moods disorders, are among several oppressive emotional damages that are caused as a result of being subjected to a poverty level type of social class life style. Cholly fit the mode. He drank, beat his wife, and eventually raped his own daughter. Prior to this, his life was surrounded by those who traditionally lived in poverty (38-40). Toni Morrison talks about Cholly being wrapped in two blankets and a newspaper by his mother when he was four days old, and placed on a junk heap. But his Aunt Jimmy saw the event and saved him, beating his mother with a razor strap (133). Apparently his mother also acted out on the affects of her social class.

Effect of poverty on children: Children in the poorest households are three times more likely to have a mental illness than children in the best-off households (Department of Health, 1999b). This seems to apply in relation to Pecola becoming obsessed with wanting blue eyes, thinking this would be her answer to become attractive, and her ugliness would fade away and society would accept her presence and appearance. At the end of the story, she lost her mind to the illusion that she had received her blue eyes, this as a result of failed trickery (giving her poison to feed to his dog) by a man who was supposed to be able to have performed this miracle for her (173-76, 193-204).

Tim Hartford’s article in Forbes says, Economists have suddenly realized that money can’t buy you happiness. Daisy believed money could make her happy. But Daisy was still very unhappy though she was rich and ended up in an endless state of loneliness. Pecola failed to understand that blue eyes would not change her poverty status or her overall physical appearance. Pecola believed blue eyes could make her happy. John Cloud’s article in Time Health states, “a team of three authors reviewed 37 previous papers on the psychological effects of cosmetic surgery; the papers dated back to 1960 and, overall, included more than 3,300 test subjects. The authors concluded that most people do feel better psychologically after undergoing cosmetic surgery, especially breast reductions.”

I believe that rich and wealthy people sometimes feel they are above the law. To me, this is a sign of psychosis, such as those who suffer from the mental issues associated with social inequality. Daisy and Tom Buchanan covered up the death of two people, Myrtle and Jay. Though this is a fictional story, in real life sometimes (more than not), rich and wealthy people also feel they are above the law, such as in the case of Michael Skakel, the nephew of Ethel Skakel Kennedy, the widow of the late Robert F. Kennedy.  For twenty years he got away with the brutal murder of a fifteen year old neighbor girl, Martha Moxley, who he beat to death with a golf club, in 1960. Though he was always a suspect, he was never arrested until 2002 when the bloody golf club that he used in the murder was found in the attic of the house by the new owners.

Unfortunately in the theory of “six degrees of separation,” it seems that Mrs. Breadlove and her family never discovered their connection.