In Toni Morison's The Bluest Eye, how does Pecola convey her isolation/alienation in regard to gender, race, society's assumptions, and moral values?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Tony Morison's The Bluest Eye, one example in which Pecola expresses her alienation can be seen in the section of the book titled "Winter." In this section, the beautiful new light-skinned girl, Maureen Peale, arrives in town. One of the best things Maureen has going for her is just how well cared for and how well liked she is. Pecola particularly notices how wealthy she is and compares her display of wealthy clothing to Pecola's own shabby, drab clothing. The comparison underscores Pecola's feelings of isolation since her own family is too poor and too dysfunctional to care for Pecola and her sister properly in order to make them feel loved and that they belong in the world just as much as Maureen. Pecola's reflections on the connection between wealth and being cared for are particularly expressed in the narrator's observation:

She was rich, at least by our standards, rich as the richest of the white girls, swaddled in comfort and care. (p. 187)

In her reflection, Pecola exposes her assumption that being white equates to being rich, which also equates to being cared for by society.

When Maureen comes to rescue her from being bullied by a group of boys, Pecola further shows her social isolation by not knowing about the movie Maureen references as containing a lead character who also had Pecola's name. 

Pecola's feelings of isolation are most frequently and best expressed in her feelings associated to the title of the book. Pecola feels that if she had blue eyes, like a white girl, then her parents would behave, and her whole life would be better. We particularly see this in the following passage:

Maybe they'd say, "Why look at pretty Pecola. We mustn't do bad things in front of those pretty eyes." Pretty eyes. Pretty blue eyes. Big blue pretty eyes. (p. 144)

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