The Bluest Eye Questions and Answers
by Toni Morrison

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Comment on the character of Pecola Breedlove in The Bluest Eye.

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The character of Pecola Breedlove is an extremely disturbing example of how the members of the black community in this novel are shown to view themselves in a context of racial segregation. This is shown most clearly in Pecola's belief that if she had blue eyes her life would be alright. All of the black characters in this powerful novel subconsciously or consciously see themselves as ugly and hate themselves, and Pecola's character becomes a kind of symbol for this self-hatred and poor self-image. This is an emotion that some characters take out on Pecola, such as her mother, father and Geraldine. The end of this novel makes this symbolic purpose explicit, as the narrator indicates that Pecola has become a kind of scapegoat for her community. Note how Claudia describes Pecola's madness in the final chapter:

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.

Temporarily at least, her pain and suffering has made them see themselves as fortunate and her ugliness makes them feel beautiful. However, Pecola's fringe existence on the edge of town at the end of the novel points towards the ephemeral nature of such feelings. Her presence acts as a constant reminder of the community's repressed hatred and ugliness and she becomes a visual representation of the community's own violence and evil.

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