Pectoral is a very static character who changes very little throughout the book. “Here is the house. It is green and white. It has a red door. It is very pretty” (Morrison 24). The Breadboxes live in a shack, a shanty, “a box Of peeling gray’ (Morrison 25). The house is very boring and doesn’t show any signs of a stable, tightly knit family unit. The house contains no charitable memories, no lost objects, and no life. This is the dark, loveless home that Pectoral grows up in.
This is the home that helps to make Pectoral feel so worthless, so ugly. “Here is the family.
Mother, Father, Dick, and Jane live in the green and white souse. They are very happy” (Morrison 29). Pectoral has a brother named Sammy. She has a crippled mother whom she must call Mrs.. Overlooked and a father named Coolly. Mrs.. Overlooked became crippled when she stepped on a rusty nail. When she is younger, she feels a sense of separateness from her own family which probably affects the way she raises her own children.
Coolly is abandoned by his mother when he is four days old. He never knows his father. His aunt raises him until she dies when Coolly is fourteen years old.
Coolly has never really been around young children. Coolly has no idea that hillier are supposed to be nurtured and taught about the beautiful characteristics in everyone that make them unique. Piccolo’s parents never have a loving childhood, and, therefore, don’t know how to be loving parents towards their children. “See Jane. She has a red dress. She wants to play. Who will play with Jane”” (Morrison 1). Pectoral has only two true friends: Claudia and Fried Macerate. The sisters become family to Pectoral. When her father, Coolly, is put in jail, Pectoral goes to live with the Macerate family.
The girls share everything: secrets, desires, and even the same bed. One Saturday in autumn, as the three bored girls sit on the front porch contemplating on what to do to make the time pass, Pectoral suddenly hops up with her eyes wide with terror (Madison 18). She has suddenly begun menstruating with blood all over both her dress and the steps. The girls immediately begin to clean up the mess so that their mother won’t find out. In the midst of their cleaning up, a nosy child peeks at them making such a fuss and yells out Mrs.. Macerate, “Mrs.. Macerate! Mrs.. Macerate!
Fried and Claudia are out her playing nasty! Mrs.. Macerate! ” (Morrison 21). Their mother attaches all three girls bustling about trying to clean up the mess. In the end, the family has a good laugh at the situation. The Macerate family is the only family that has been loving towards Pectoral, but, unfortunately, she must go back home after Coolly IS let out of jail. “See the cat. It goes meow-meow. Come and play. Come play with Jane. The kitten will not play” (Morrison 62). On one occasion, when Pectoral is walking by a school, a spoiled, light skinned boy named Louis Junior is in the playground.
His mother doesn’t allow him to play with colored children because she wants her son to be as close to whiteness as possible. The boy wants to play with Pectoral, but she just wants to go home. He entices her into coming into his house with the promise of newborn kittens. When they get into the house, the boy throws, not kittens, but a huge black cat with odd, blue-green eyes right into Piccolo’s face. She tries to escape from the house, but Junior decides that it would be even more fun to hold her captive. The cat comes over to Pectoral and gets very acquainted with her.
When Junior sees that Pectoral is no longer panicking at her predicament, he grabs his mother’s beloved cat and begins to swing it. When Pectoral tries to grab the cat, Junior lets it go. It flies right into the radiator the moment Geraldine, Junior’s mother, walks into the house. Junior immediately blames the incident on Pectoral. With no explanation, Geraldine, who has a serene hate for “naggers” angrily states to Pectoral, “You nasty little black bitchy. Get out of my house” (Morrison 72). Pectoral leaves the house with tears in her eyes. “See mother.
Mother is very nice. Mother, will you play with Jane? Mother laughs. Laugh, mother, laugh” (Morrison 86). When Jane was first born, Mrs.. Overlooked exclaimed, “A right smart baby she was. But endowed she was ugly. Head full of pretty hair, but Lord she was ugly” (Morrison 98). Mrs.. Overlooked disclaims her children around her white supervisors. Like Pectoral and many others around 1941, Mrs.. Overlooked believes that whites are supreme over blacks. She works for the Fisher family. On one occasion, she compares washing her own children to washing her boss’s white kids.
She says that she loves drying the little white girl in fluffy white towels and putting her in cuddly night clothes (Morrison 99). Mrs.. Overlooked adores brushing the girl’s yellow hair, “enjoying the roll and slip of it between her fingers” (99). When discussing the bathing rituals of her own children, she sighs thinking about he cheep zinc tub, grayish towels, and the tangled black puffs Of wool to comb (99). Eventually, Mrs.. Overlooked becomes negligent toward her own family and spends more time with the Fisher family.
After she becomes the “in-home servant” to the white Fisher family, Pectoral sees less of her mother, and her father becomes more and more comfortable with Pectoral. “See Father. He is big and strong. Father, will you play with Jane? Father is smiling. Smile, Father, smile” (Morrison 103). Jane is raped by her father. As she is washing the dishes, she uses her toes to scratch her calf. This action emends Coolly so much of the young Mrs.. Overlooked that he has to take her. He rapes her right on the kitchen floor and leaves her there. Pectoral is found partially unconscious by her mother.
Pectoral feels even uglier than before. She decides that she needs her blue eyes more than ever in order to be beautiful. “See the dog. Bowwow goes the dog. Do you want to play with Jane? See the dog run. Run, dog, run” (Morrison 131). Pectoral finally decides to go to a “Reader, Advisor, and Interpreter of Dreams” to alter her eye color. Saphead Church is a fraud. He actually dislikes people and abhors flesh on flesh intact. He cannot stand the sight of crust, scabs, boogers, earwax, and the like. Saphead makes money off of people’s problems.
Pectoral comes to Saphead and tells him that she wants her eyes to become blue. When Saphead sees Pectoral, he sees an “ugly girl asking for beauty” (Morrison 138). There’s a dog that Saphead thinks is absolutely disgusting. The dog is old, mangy, and flee-ridden. Saphead wants to get rid of the dog but he cannot do the dirty job on his own. Then innocent, ignorant Pectoral comes to him for help. He knows there’s no possible way to produce this sort of magic, and ells her that if it’s in the Lord’s will, her eyes will change color, but it would be nice if they gave him an “offering. He says, “We must make, ah, some offering, that is, some contact with nature. Perhaps some simple creature might be the vehicle through which He will speak. Let us see” (Morrison 139). He tells Pectoral to feed the dog a substance. Pectoral unknowingly feeds the dog poison. It runs around choking and stumbling until it falls to the ground, dead. “Look, look. Here comes a friend. The friend will play with Jane. They will play a good game. Play, Jane, play” (Morrison 152). Pectoral finally believes that she as gotten her blue eyes.
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