WINTER: Chapter 5 (Seethecatitgoesmeow…) Summary and Analysis
Chapter 5 (Seethecatitgoesmeowmeowcomeandplaycomeplaywithjane thekittenwillnotplayplayplaypla)
Louis Junior: a light-skinned black boy who invites Pecola back to his house
Geraldine: Louis Junior’s mother
There is a type of woman who lives in Lorain but comes from one of the bigger cities of America. This type of woman has dedicated her life to her own appearance, her education, and her family life. She has lived hoping that she will marry so that she may possess a house and a yard. Once she is married, she will become the head of the household and preserve this title at the expense of her own family. This type of woman has devoted her life to removing any sort of “Funk,” whether it be dirt, disorder, or sex. She would have sex with her husband, but it was always an inconvenience. She always made sure that her hair was as straight as possible, and her skin as smooth and pale as possible. One such woman, named Geraldine, moved into the town of Lorain.
One thing was able to provoke love out of Geraldine: her cat. She had a son, Louis Junior, and she made sure that he was warm and clean. She also kept his hair straight and his skin pale. She did not, however, soothe and cuddle him; all her true affection was reserved for her cat. Louis Junior understood this, and he grew up hating the cat. He would torture and abuse the cat any time that they were alone.
Louis Junior lived near the playground of Pecola’s school. He didn’t have many friends because he was only allowed to play with the “colored children,” as opposed to the “niggers.” Because Louis lived so near the playground, he spent most of his time there asking, or forcing, children to play with him. However, if children didn’t stay long enough to suit him, Junior would throw a rock or some gravel at them. As time passed, Junior “became a very good shot.”
One day, Junior stops Pecola, who is taking a shortcut through the playground. He invites her to come into his house. Pecola doesn’t want to stop in at first, but eventually she is enticed by the promise of kittens. Once she gets in the house, however, Junior leads her into a room, throws the cat at her, then slams and holds the door behind her. Pecola, scratched and trapped, begins to cry. The cat comes up to her legs, and Pecola begins to pet it. Junior wonders why the crying has stopped, and he enters the room to find the cat with the same look of content that it has when his mother, Geraldine, pets it. This causes Junior to lose control, and he seizes the cat and swings it around the room. Pecola tries to stop him, and in doing so, Junior lets go of the cat, which flies against the window. Geraldine comes home to find Junior and Pecola on the floor with the cat by the radiator. Junior quickly accuses Pecola of killing the cat. Geraldine moves toward the cat in sorrow, and she looks at Pecola. Geraldine thinks of the time and effort she has put into herself to prevent being the type of woman that she sees in Pecola, and she tells her to get out of the house. Pecola backs out of the house, while Geraldine cradles the cat in her arms.
The idea of beauty has been presented almost strictly in terms of skin color. Shirley Temple and Mary Jane are sweet and beautiful, and have light skin. Pecola, who has dark skin and eyes, is “ugly.” Pecola feels ugly because she believes that skin and eye color are directly related to beauty. However, the symbols of beauty that Pecola focuses upon do not actually exist. Shirley Temple hair will always be golden and her smile never vanishes because she is always seen within a film. Mary Jane’s beautiful white skin is pressed onto a candy wrapper; the face will always look the same. The reason Pecola feels so ugly is that she compares herself to the unreal. Whether these symbols are actually beautiful or not, Pecola could never change herself to such a degree because as unfortunate as it might be, she lives in a real world.
In the previous...
(The entire section is 1,573 words.)