What are the differences between the opening sections of The Bluest Eye?

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The two sections in the Prologue of this novel offer a very different kind of summary of the novel and its themes as a whole. Firstly the Dick and Jane narrative is told in simple language reminiscent of first readers. However, what is disturbing about it is both the extreme simplicity of the language and also the isolation of Jane. The way that the sentences in this section of the Prologue do not relate to each other echoes the somewhat disjointed narrative where characters struggle to make sense of their lives and experiences. In the same way the relationships between Jane and her parents also point towards a somewhat questionable approach between parents and children, that is shown to be actually very sinister in the second section of the Prologue.

The second section, told to the reader by an anonymous narrator, gives a more conventional overview of the story, as the narrator reveals the story and also how it ends. The narrator remembers how one year the marigold seeds she planted did not flower, and draws a parallel between those seeds and other seeds:

It never occurred to either of us that the earth itself might have been unyielding. We had dropped our seeds in our own little plot of black dirt just as Pecola’s father had dropped his seeds in his own plot of black dirt. Our innocence and faith were no more productive than his lust or despair.

The limited information that the reader is given about Pecola acts to raise suspense and interest in the novel. Although this is a very different kind of narrative, at the same time, it fleshes out some of the themes that are implicit in the first Dick and Jane narrative, such as fractured relationships and a sense of sinister, disturbing simplicity. The narrator in this second section seeks to understand what has happened and still seems to be struggling to do so in its entirety, just as meaning in the first section is so difficult to find from the simple sentences that are joined together.

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