In Toni Morning’s book, The Bluest Eye, the character Pectoral Overlooked is a passive, young and quiet girl who lives a hard life; her parents are constantly physically and verbally fighting. Throughout the book, Pectoral is reminded continuously of how ugly she is, which fuels her aspiration to be white with blue eyes. Pectoral, a poor black girl, is compelled to believe that she is, in fact, ugly. Tortured and tormented by almost everyone she knows, the identity of the protagonist, Pectoral Overlooked is destroyed by both society and her family situations and experiences.
This presents the reader with the idea that society and or family experiences can tear an individual from their identity if they are mentally weak enough. Pectoral Overlooked, who wants to be beautiful, becomes torn from her “black” identity once society victimizes her innocence by labeling her as ugly. Pectoral and her community live based on a set of ideals; whiteness and beauty. When Maureen Peal is introduced in the book, her skin color and class status is regarded as oppressive to other blacks in the novel, especially Pectoral who is highly susceptible to it since everyone thinks of her as ugly.
When described in the cafeteria, Maureen is presented as “A sigh-yellow dream child with long brown hair braided into two lynch ropes that hung down her back” (52). The “lynch ropes” expression is outright racial oppression, as “lynching” (hanging) is what commonly happened to slaves for punishment along with the ASK incidences. When Pectoral sees that being beautiful is related to having friends and more importantly to her, being loved, she will do anything to become beautiful.
When Pectoral and Claudia are exposed to Maureen Peal, they make up ugly names and relate her to ugly things so she would be on their ‘level. ‘ Maureen is an example of the ongoing home that white people are rich and gorgeous, and black people are ugly and not content. Maureen says later on, that “l am cute, and you ugly! Black and ugly black e moms. I am cute! ” (73). When Pectoral first met Maureen, they thought they were going to be friends.
When Pectoral hears Maureen say this about them, she starts to believe that she needs to be beautiful in order to have friends, and she starts to wish for the bluest eyes and the whitest skin, thus proving that society can tear an individual from their true identity. Pectoral Overdose’s self-esteem and her identity is also affected by her family tuition and experiences. When the Overlooked family is introduced in the beginning of the story, Morrison portrays them as a stereotypical early sass poor black family.
When they are first described, she wrote, ‘The Breadboxes did not live in a storefront because they were having temporary difficulty adjusting to the cutbacks at the plant. They lived there because they were poor and black, and they stayed there because they believed they were ugly” (37). Morrison writes about the role that the whites and the colored people give the Breadboxes in society. Because of the color of their skin, the Breadboxes are forced to adopt their storefront apartment as part of who they are and let it dictate their lives.
They feel that they are ugly since they are not the model of what society in general portrays as appropriate. Pectoral sees what society portrays as appropriate, which is light skin with blue eyes, along with a decent amount of money. She tries to get just one of those things, the bluest eyes, and it ends up ruining her psychologically, causing her to go insane. Another example of when Pectoral loses her identity is when Maureen Peal makes fun of Pectoral and her father, just after Pectoral starts to consider re as a friend. “l wasn’t even talking to you. I was talking to Pectoral. Yeah. About seeing her naked daddy’ (72).
Once the knowledge that Piccolo’s father walks naked around Pectoral, Maureen decides to make fun of her because she is ugly, and because it is common knowledge that Pectoral sees her dad walking around naked. These family experiences and situations all have a negative effect on Pectoral because she is not just the “ugly” girl now, she is the poor black girl who sees her father naked. As a member of a family that is part of the low society, Pectoral Overlooked, labeled as “ugly/’ struggles and fails o maintain her sanity and her childhood innocence when she tries to get people to like and love her.
Once an innocent little girl, now a girl who is torn away from her natural identity after society and society outlook on her family make her feel ugly and unwanted. She becomes labeled as the scapegoat of the community and slips into oblivion. Toni Morrison wrote the Bluest Eye depicting Pectoral Overlooked and her family as the scapegoat of the entire community. Losing Pectoral as an example, Morrison tries to convey the point to not become subdued to what society thinks of as ugly and beautiful; just be yourself.