In the novel The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison writes of a community in Lorain, Ohio in the years after the Great Depression. The main character in the story, Pecola Breedlove, is a young black girl who is plagued by insecurity and self-loathing from not having white skin. The community she lives in is also overwhelmed with the same notions and ideals. The blacks in the community do not like their darker skin because they see it as ugly, which most likely stems from the racial sentiments and loathing of blacks by whites in America after the Civil War.
The blacks in this town have adopted the whites’ dislike of black people, the mentality of the country at this time is “white is right. ” So instead of black people hating themselves, they can hate the individuals with the darker complexion. In this case, Pecola is described in the novel as having the darkest skin and the most ugly in the town because of her darker skin than others and all hatred of dark skin is externalized from the black community and directed toward her.
Throughout the story, Pecola is the witness and the victim of abuse. Children tease her for her ugly darker skin; she gets abused by her mother and father, and is the witness to domestic violence. Pecola was born to Cholly and Pauline Breedlove. Cholly Breedlove is a violent, alcoholic and abuses his whole family. When Cholly makes love to Pauline she does not move, she lets him do what he wants so it will be over soon. He repeatedly comes home drunk at night and hits Pauline in front of their children, usually the next morning.
Whenever the children witness this domestic violence Pecola closes her eyes really tight and wants to disappear and her brother, Sam, usually runs away from home when this happens. Eventually this violence from Cholly escalates so much one time that he tries to burn the Breedlove’s house down while everyone is inside it. After this happens, Pecola is sent to live with the MacTeers for a few days. When Pecola goes to live with the MacTeers we find out that she really likes drinking out of a certain cup that they have that has Shirley Temple on it.
Pecola and one of the MacTeer girls expresses that Shirley Temple is the most beautiful girl in America and the symbol of beauty, white skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes. This is when we find out that Pecola’s one wish in the whole world is to have blue eyes so that everyone will think she is pretty and not hate her so much. One day at school the two MacTeer girls are walking with the newest student at their school, Maureen Peal.
Maureen is a relatively wealthy light-skinned girl that is popular and well liked in the school because she has lighter skin than everyone else. Everybody treats her different and she reinforces this by being a little arrogant toward the darker-skinned girls when she wants to. The two MacTeer girls and Maureen see Pecola getting teased and pushed around by boys after school and Maureen stops them because they do not want to tease Pecola in front of a light-skinned girl. When Pecola is returned to her family the abuses by Cholly do not stop, in fact they get worse.
Cholly comes home drunk one day, sees Pecola washing dishes, and throws her to the ground and rapes her. When Mrs. Breedlove comes home she finds Pecola unconscious on the floor and when Pecola tells her what happened she does not believe her and beats her for lying. When everyone in town finds out that Cholly raped Pecola, she gets teased and is stigmatized even more. Pecola then goes to a local mystic to request that he give her blue eyes so she can have the beauty she needs and deserves.
The local mystic, Soaphead Church, is a fraud and just gets Pecola to poison his neighbor’s dog and she thinks that the poisoning signifies her wish has been granted. After Cholly rapes Pecola a second time he runs away and leaves her pregnant. The baby does not survive however, and Pecola and Mrs. Breedlove move to the outskirts of town and Pecola slowly grows delusional and finally believes that she has been given the blue eyes she wished for. In conclusion, Pecola is a character that is full of pity and is forced into unfortunate and awful situations.
She does not talk very much in the novel and that is not understood until the reader finds out everything that happens to her. She loses touch with reality at the end of the story because her fragile mind cannot handle what has happened to her and she has conversations with herself. “The birdlike gestures are worn away to a mere picking and plucking her way between the tire rims and the sunflowers, between Coke bottles and milkweed, among all the waste and beauty of the world-which is what she herself was.
All of our waste which we dumped on her and which she absorbed. And all of our beauty, which was hers first and which she gave to us” (p. 205). This sums up Claudia MacTeer’s thought on Pecola’s mental state at the end of the novel. The town dumped all its waste on Pecola because she was an easy target. She became mentally unstable because no one except for Cholly showed her love, even if it was misdirected and even though “his touch was fatal, and the something he gave her filled the matrix of her agony with death” (p.206).
Pecola’s instability in the end protects her from the lack of love from the community and her family. We see why she does not talk much and why she wants blue eyes, so people will think she is beautiful and will love her. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate World Literature section.