At first, when Walker is young, she conceives of beauty in the traditional way; she is proud of her "cuteness," her braided and bowed hair, and her little dresses. Others behold her and find her to be beautiful, and that's all she wants. By the time she turns eight, she is less interested in beauty and more interested in keeping up with her brothers' play. When one of them shoots her in the eye with a pellet gun, she becomes aware only of the "glob of whitish scar tissue, a hideous cataract on [her] eye," and she believes that people will not look at her anymore, but at her scar. So, she hides her face for six years. She fears that people who behold her will no longer find her beautiful. When she finally does allow people to see her face again, holding her head up once more, she becomes popular and desired. However, decades later, a journalist wants Walker to decide how she'd like to look on a magazine cover, and she confesses that what worries her is that her eye won't be straight.
Walker recalls a time when her daughter was three and focused on her eye. Rebecca studied her and declared, "Mommy, there's a world in your eye." Walker beholds her daughter and, through her daughter's interest and love, finds the beauty in her own literal eye. Prior to this conversation, and even for some time after it, Walker has felt that the beauty that matters is in the eye of the person doing the looking. Then, her daughter teaches her that her beauty is actually in the way she sees herself. Walker realizes that she has been "storing up images against the fading" of her sight, and so it is like there is a world, figuratively speaking, in her eyes. This is beautiful, and beholding the world—and the fact that she hasn't gone totally blind—has made her see more beauty in her eyes as well.