Why does Cholly Breedlove rape Pecola?

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Mary Sutton eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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As the previous educators have mentioned, Cholly's rape of Pecola is directly tied to the trauma that he experienced during his first sexual experience with Darlene. What was supposed to have been a healthy exploration of sexuality in the context of a community cookout—that is, a circumstance in which Cholly should have felt safe and comfortable—turned into an instance in which he was reminded of the omnipresence of white supremacy.

Ironically, Cholly doesn't feel anger toward the white men who disrupt him (or, at least, he doesn't think he does); however, he feels, or projects, his anger onto Darlene—ignoring how she, too, is being humiliated in this instance. Cholly can't bring himself to feel anger toward the white men, realizing how futile that emotion would be. He projects it onto Darlene because, within the white supremacist and patriarchal social structure in which he must exist, she is the only person who is "lower" than he.

His marriage to Pauline, which began with...

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