In The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, the two MacTeer girls, Claudia and Frieda, are friendly with Pecola Breedlove. Pecola has a difficult life that is filled with fear, uncertainty, and unpleasantness. Her father is abusive and, as the story advances, rapes her. Pecola has to stay with the MacTeer family temporarily when her father burns down the Breedlove house. The narrator (Claudia) says,
Mama had told us two days earlier that a "case" was coming—a girl who had no place to go. The county had placed her in our house for a few days until they could decide what to do, or, more precisely, until the family was reunited. We were to be nice to her and not fight. Mama didn't know "what got into people," but that old Dog Breedlove had burned up his house, gone upside his wife's head, and everybody, as a result, was outdoors. Outdoors, we knew, was the real terror of life.
Moreover, most people in the community are not nice to Pecola. They view her and her family as ugly.
The Breedloves did not live in a storefront because they were having temporary difficulty adjusting to the cutbacks at the plant. They lived there because they were poor and black, and they stayed there because they believed they were ugly. Although their poverty was traditional and stultifying, it was not unique. But their ugliness was unique.
Therefore, Pecola is grateful to the people who treat her kindly. Pecola ultimately moves back in with her own family. Her neighbors are Miss Marie, who goes by the name “the Maginot Line”; China; and Poland. These women are prostitutes. The three prostitutes are nice to her, which makes her love them.
Three whores lived in the apartment above the Breedloves' storefront. China, Poland, and Miss Marie. Pecola loved them, visited them, and ran their errands. They, in turn, did not despise her.
"They ... did not despise" Pecola, which is so unusual that Pecola might love them merely because of this. They display affection and are even protective of Pecola, which she is unaccustomed to. Marie asks,
"Hi, dumplin'. Where your socks?" Marie seldom called Pecola the same thing twice, but invariably her epithets were fond ones chosen from menus and dishes that were forever uppermost in her mind.
Moreover, the prostitutes are fun-loving and laugh often, which Pecola enjoys. Given the difficulty of her life, laughter is rare for her. In reminiscing about their original decision to become prostitutes, "they all dissolved in laughter. Three merry gargoyles. Three merry harridans."
The three women are also more independent than any other women in Pecola's life, and she admires them for it. While she may not understand it completely, she also senses that they are unafraid of what other people think of them and will not take abuse from others. This is extremely different from Pecola's own life and experiences.
Except for Marie's fabled love for Dewey Prince, these women hated men, all men, without shame, apology, or discrimination. They abused their visitors with a scorn grown mechanical from use. ... Neither did they have respect for women, who, although not their colleagues, so to speak, nevertheless deceived their husbands—regularly or irregularly, it made no difference. "Sugar-coated whores," they called them, and did not yearn to be in their shoes.
They are also genuine, with no social pretensions. While most people mock Pecola, they treat her with a certain respect.
With Pecola they were as free as they were with each other. Marie concocted stories for her because she was a child, but the stories were breezy and rough.
No wonder Pecola wonders if they are real.