The Psychoanalytical Perspective of Cholly Breedlove

Known as one of the most horrifying and explicit novels of the 1970’s, The Bluest Eye gives its readers an excruciating eye opening experience of the damages and suffering experienced within the African American race after slavery. While the novel contains very difficult and hard to imagine scenes, it is within those scenes hat the audience makes deeper understandings of Morrison’s point of view. While children are the essence of sorrow within this novel, it is through the adults that we truly understand the reasons for their sorrow. Applying the psychoanalytical theory to Morrison’s adult character Cholly Breedlove in The Bluest Eye allows the reader to see the reasons behind his current behaviors and how deeply connected they are to his past.

One of the most vital and important character that we can apply this lens on is on Cholly Breedlove. While we are inclined to hate Cholly Breedlove for raping his own daughter, we must come to understand the reasons behind Cholly’s drunken actions. Morrison gives us a brief history of Cholly’s life within the spring section of the book. Within this section, we are told that Cholly was abandoned by his mother, saved by his aunt who passed away while he was very young, caught having sex for the first time and humiliated as those white men who discovered him forced him to continue having sex as they watched, and finally meeting and being denied by his father after his aunt’s death, which causes him to defecate his pants. All of these situations that have happened to Cholly allow for the reader to understand his drunken actions. Due to the constant denial from his family and the invasion of his first intimate moment with a woman, Cholly became mentally and physically unstable as these are not easy events to deal with. These events caused him to turn to a source of relief, alcohol, which also forced him to be physically violent. Cholly lives a dangerous and unconscious life that keeps him from reality. Cholly cannot be a father to his children as he never had a father nor a mother to learn this example from. Cholly never successfully passed through Erik Erikson’s stages of development within the first twelve years of his life, which have caused much instability and unknowingness for Cholly. This is a primary example of Freud’s psychoanalytical theory that what happens in our childhood, whether positive or negative, affect how that person is as an adult. Cholly also shows us how theory’s aspect of the unconscious mind can prompt someone like him to make the horrible decisions he has made because of the life he has lived and his experiences. While the reader is high critical of Cholly, applying the psychoanalytical lens allows the reader to see how important it is to understand someone’s past in relation to their current actions. Cholly allows for the reader to truly look past the horrendous things he does in order to understand a bigger picture of how the past is deeply connected to the present in people.

-DML SP’15

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One thought on “The Psychoanalytical Perspective of Cholly Breedlove

  1. You make great points in this post, DML. Thank you!

    During my reading of The Bluest Eye, I was able to sympathize with young Cholly, who was horrifically harassed by white men, but I struggled to sympathize with the older Cholly, who sexually assaulted his daughter. However, I believe you’re right: reading through a psychoanalytical lens can elucidate Cholly’s behavior and perhaps even make the reader more sympathetic toward his character. The psychoanalytical lens helps the reader see how Cholly’s sexual assault of Pecola could have been a terribly misguided expression of fatherly love. As you mention, Cholly did not have a father or mother figure from which to learn beneficial parenting behaviors. Furthermore, the white men’s harassment of young Cholly may have confounded his conception of healthy sexual relations. When reading The Bluest Eye with a psychoanalytical lens, the reader might more readily understand how Cholly’s tragic past leads to his downward spiral and appalling missteps.

    -SD

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