The point of view used in The Bluest Eye and “Going to Meet the Man” evokes different emotions from similar actions. Both stories depict characters that exert aggressive sexual behavior to dominate. In “Going to Meet the Man,” the point of view elicits no compassion for Jesse, an aggressive oppressor. Conversely, the reader feels sympathy for Cholly in The Bluest Eye because the point of view portrays him as an unfortunate soul unable to control his heinous sexual aggressions.
Jesse attends a “picnic” with his family that celebrates the power wielded by the whites in the extreme punishment of a black man for a seemingly minor act. Jesse’s family emerges from a tunnel of trees to join other white families at a hilltop clearing. Within the crowd, “there was a fire. [Jesse] could not see the flames, but he smelled the smoke,” Jesse’s father places him on his shoulders to provide a better view (1759). Jesse’s father made a conscientious effort to indoctrinate his son into the white man’s mindset as he experiences the white man’s perspective of the black man’s lynching.
Jesse realizes that the white people “wanted to make death wait: and it was they who held death, now, on a leash which they lengthened little by little” (1760) as he observes the black man’s struggle to stay alive. The torture arouses Jesse, he “felt his scrotum tighten; and huge, huge, much bigger than his father’s flaccid, hairless, the largest thing he had ever seen till then, and the blackest” (1760). The description of the castration is erotic, “the white hand stretched them, cradled them, caressed them,” foreshadowing the nature of his future sexual tendencies (1760). The black man is larger and darker than anything Jesse has seen before, in direct contrast to Jesse’s impotent father. Once the black man succumbs to the fate decided by white men, Jesse notices that “his father’s face was full of sweat, his eyes were very peaceful,” as if he had just experienced an orgasm. Jesse, too, climaxes. “At that moment Jesse loved his father more than he had ever loved him. He felt that his father had carried him through a mighty test, had revealed to him a great secret which would be the key to his life forever” (1760-61). In this moment, Jesse’s perspective switches from being sympathetic to the blacks to craving power over them. Jesse transitions from being a friend of a black boy to an unabashed, indiscriminate oppressor of blacks. The sense of excitement Jesse derives from exercising his might over someone weaker becomes the necessary fuel for his sexual arousal. The bonding moment Jesse experiences with his father reveals that without power, he is emasculated.
Jesse is flaccid, yet filled with the need to climax, “He wanted to let whatever was in him out; but it would not come out” (1750). It required recalling the castration and his beating of the young black man in prison for Jesse to grab “himself and [stroke] himself and a terrible sound…came out of him” (1761). ...