The Bluest Eye Summary
by Toni Morrison

The Bluest Eye book cover
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The Bluest Eye Summary

In The Bluest Eye, Claudia MacTeer reflects on the rape and spiral into madness of her friend Pecola Breedlove.

  • At the beginning, Pecola goes to live with Claudia’s family after her father, Cholly, burns down the Breedloves’ house.
  • Sometime after the Breedloves move into a new house, Cholly rapes Pecola, impregnating her. When she learns of the pregnancy, she visits the town's spiritual advisor and asks him to give her blue eyes.
  • When Pecola's baby dies, she's driven mad by grief and abuse and spends the rest of her days talking to her imaginary friend about her big blue eyes.

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Summary

Summary of the Novel
Claudia MacTeer is a young black girl growing up in the small mill town of Lorain, Ohio. Life for her is difficult because her parents are too busy to show loving compassion. Claudia often finds it necessary to fight for herself, because other children try to put her down while adults are too busy with their own affairs and only notice children when there is work to be done. Claudia finds a lot of her anger and aggression directed towards the little white dolls that she receives as presents. It seems to her that these white dolls are given more love and attention than a flesh-and-blood black child.

The lives of Claudia and her sister Frieda take an interesting turn when Pecola Breedlove is temporarily placed in the MacTeer home by county officials. Pecola’s father burnt down their home, and Pecola needs a place to stay while her father serves his jail sentence. Claudia and Frieda like Pecola because she is quiet and shy and responds to their offers of graham crackers and milk. The milk is brought in a Shirley Temple mug. Pecola and Frieda both love Shirley Temple and soon become involved in a discussion about her. Claudia finds it hard to relate to this topic, but nevertheless they enjoy each other’s company.

The Breedlove family soon comes together again and finds a different home in an ugly house on the corner of a forgotten street. We learn that the entire Breedlove family has serious problems with self-esteem. The Breedloves go through life believing in their ugliness. Pauline, or Mrs. Breedlove, devotes her time to fighting with her husband, Cholly, and taking care of a white family. Cholly, when he is not fighting his wife, spends his days drinking. Their children are either abused or neglected, and each child has coped with this abuse or neglect in a special manner. Sammy has already run away from home many times, while Pecola spends her time trying to be invisible. Pecola prays for blue eyes because she believes that if she were a beautiful girl, everyone in town would treat her nicely.

Pecola, however, is abused by almost everybody in the town. One day, she is brutally teased by a group of boys when she is unexpectedly saved by Frieda, Claudia, and a new girl named Maureen Peal. Maureen Peal is a beautiful, light-skinned girl that becomes friendly towards Pecola for a while. However, Maureen soon turns on the other girls, using her own beauty as a weapon against them. Pecola is also the victim of a cruel prank by a light-skinned boy named Louis Junior, who is resentful towards dark-skinned blacks.

The reader is shown how Pecola’s parents met each other. Pauline Williams’ dreams are dashed at an early age when she steps on a nail and develops a crippled foot. It is only when she meets Cholly Breedlove that she begins to feel the magic of life. However, when the newly married couple move to Lorain, they begin to drift apart from each other. Pauline takes solace in the movies, watching the pretty actresses and emulating their hairstyles, but she becomes uglier and uglier. Once she has two children, she begins to spend most of her days taking care of a white family so that she can at least keep the illusion of being beautiful.

Cholly also had a difficult childhood, having been abandoned by both parents. The only person who takes care of him is his Aunt Jimmy, but she dies while Cholly is still a young boy....

(The entire section is 2,916 words.)