The Theme of Family and Class in "The Bluest Eye" and "The Great Gatsby": Compare and Contrast Essay

Paper Type:  Literature review
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1231 Words
Date:  2022-02-12


The virtues in society can be influenced by the vast differences in the population composition presented. Society is influenced by ethnic differences, which actively contribute to the differences in social classes as presented by Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye and The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald. The theme of class is distinctly presented within the two texts with society playing a significant role in facilitating the racial differences. The possible marked changes in the society will be presented with a contrast between the two texts and how the texts markedly distinguish the changes in the society in light of the theme of race.

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The novel The Bluest Eye examines the degradation of people influenced by society. The novel presents different points of view of society based on the experiences of various characters such as Pecola and Claudia. The two are both black Americans, but Claudia is proudly black while Pecola wishes she had the blue eyes which she regarded as a sign of beauty. However, much of the personal presentations in the two characters are based on the impact of their families. Claudia is raised in a family with both supportive and overprotective families while Pecola is raised in an abusive and violent family. The theme of family and the influence of family on the growth and development of the two characters hint at the distinct differences between the characters as well as the similarities in their personalities.

According to The Bluest Eye, a society with white ideals is presented as a symbol of beauty. In this case, the virtues in society are gauged by white ideals. Race influence the standards with the blue eyes used as a sign of beauty Pecola wishes she had the blue eyes maybe she could have someone to love her. Pecola serves as an example of the vulnerable girl of Black American decency who suffers social injustice due to her race. The resentment related to race is felt through Pecola's life as she transverses different scenarios, which make her wish she was white. According to Pecola, whites are beautiful, and they are similarly ranked higher in society due to their acceptance. The choice of words by Morrison enhances the flow of the theme of family and race as a collective idea that pinpoints the most straightforward approach to presenting the oppression related to class and race of the characters (Ramirez). However, the presence of Claudia in the novel presents the other side of race and family. Claudia is raised by responsible and protective parents, which impacts a different attitude on race and social class. However, the impact of family in the attitude and general perspective of life is significantly illuminated in Pecola's life with the abusive father and family with frequent wrangles. Observing the different approaches of the society to the race issue leaves Pecola in admiration of the white privileges.

Family plays a significant role in nurturing the attitudes of various individuals. As highlighted by Morrison, Claudia was black and was proud of being black regardless of beauty being compared to Shirley Temple. Claudia presents her resentment of the white ideals by emphasizing the things she would like if asked what she wished. In this light, Claudia points out that if asked what she wanted on Christmas, she replies, "I could have spoken up I want to sit on the low stool in Big Mama's kitchen with a lap full of lilacs and listen to Big Papa play the violin for me alone" (Bloom 103). This highlights how Claudia is proud of her race and appreciates the value of the family. She hints at the connection within her family as opposed to Pecola's family. Arguably, Pecola couldn't wish the same as her family is full of violence and her own father ends up raping her which indicates that respect and unity as a family is distinctly missing in her own home (Ramirez). The presence of family to go back to makes Claudia appreciate her race. However, Pecola, on the other hand, is not certain if she has a home to go back to with her home acting as a reminder; she comes from a minority race.

In The Great Gatsby, the theme of race is also used to paint the image of class differences in society. The theme of class is presented in the description of the desolate Valley of Ashes which on the other hand is situated in between West Egg and New York. While West egg is regarded as the place for the aspiring class in society the Valley of Ashes is, on the contrary, the dumping ground and desolate land that is occupied by poor people. In this case, Fitzgerald uses the setting to highlight the difference in social classes in the novel. West Egg, a home of Gatsby is regarded as a home for new money and therefore as a stepping stone to the high ranks in society. New York City is referred to as a mixing pot as it represents people from different classes. Fitzgerald uses setting to point out the class differences in society, contrary to Morrison, who uses characters and race to highlight the class differences. According to Tredell, the upper-class confines in areas well-spaced and with good quality housing facilities. On the other hand, the low class is crowded with furniture.

As presented by Fitzgerald, class influences all life aspects, and as illuminated by Myrtle, love is equally connected to social class. When referring to her husband George, she claims she mistook him for someone better breeding. "I thought he knew something about breeding, but he wasn't fit to lick my shoe" (Scott 38). In the same manner, Gatsby is limited to class in his pursuit of Daisy. He resorts to amassing more wealth before making a move. The marriages in the novel are also linked to class. The survival of marriages is connected to the social class of the characters with Tom and Daisy's marriage surviving while George and Myrtle's marriage is destroyed (Tredell 63). Family stability is, however, connected to the social class with the upper-class managing to stabilize their families while the low class tends to struggle to put up their families together. The love between the different partners also serves to bring up the families. According to Tom and Daisy, they are immune to the consequences of their actions and stick together bonded by love.


In conclusion, the theme of family and class are interconnected in the two texts with characters illustrating diversified attitudes towards race and class. In The Bluest Eye, Pecola is seen struggling with her class and accepting her position in society. Her family is presented as a key to her identity struggles. On the other hand, the resentment in Claudia signifies the differences in the races and their perception of social classes. With regards to The Great Gatsby, the class is used as a bond between families. The family crises presented are conjoined to the social class of the members with families breaking up and others staying stronger together.

Works Cited

Bloom, Harold, ed. Toni Morrison's The bluest eye. Infobase Publishing, 2007.

Ramirez, Manuela Lopez. "The theme of the shattered self in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye and A Mercy." Miscelanea: A Journal of English and American Studies 48 (2013).

Scott, Fitzgerald F. The Great Gatsby. Ripol Klassik, 2017.

Tredell, Nicolas. F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby/Tender is the Night. Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

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The Theme of Family and Class in "The Bluest Eye" and "The Great Gatsby": Compare and Contrast Essay. (2022, Feb 12). Retrieved from

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