Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eyes”
Analysis of Pecola Breedlove’s character
Pecola Breedlove is the central character who comes from a poor black family. She suffered abuse and neglect, and was scorned, ridiculed and exploited, beaten and poked at by people around her. She is a mirror image of the black girls in the 1940s, and hardships faced and endured by them. Endowed with a much darker skin than other blacks, she was considered ugly in comparison to others. Pecola personified miserable, humiliating, pathetic and hopeless existence of the blacks in the 1940s.
All individual actions with respect to Pecola are seen to be influenced by society’s idea of beauty, which was described by Morrison as person with white skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes. Through examples of popularity of actresses like Shirley Temple, and parent’s fascination for baby dolls with blonde hair and blue eyes, societies biased views are made all too clear. Pecola, having seen people’s adoration for fair skin and blue eyes, fantasizes about her image with blonde hair and blue eyes and prayed for a pair of beautiful blue eyes. This shows her desperation to be accepted in a society colored by prejudice. As Pecola didn’t meet the standard of beauty, she was constantly abused not only by her parents but also by people around her. Before she could grow into a mature girl, and be able to comprehend the complexity of human nature, and society, she was forced into segregation. Pecola in the novel is the embodiment of three things not accepted by the society. Firstly, she was dark skinned, secondly, she was a child, and thirdly she was a girl.
Pecola is the embodiment of everything miserable that a black community represents. The black boys in the streets, who are ashamed of their own blackness and their loathsome, pathetic existence, their self hatred finds expression through their abominable behavior towards Pecola. Their feelings of anger, and frustration towards all the negative things that blackness represents, comes out the same way they knew they would be treated by the whites, and Pecola has just become a medium for their pent up feelings to be unleashed. Pecola was unable to analyse the situation she was in and delves in self pity and her unworthiness. She could not comprehend the fact that she was not the sole black person in the locality and that the people who teased, tormented and poked fun at her too had blackness stamped upon them. She wanted to look beautiful and be loved. From her childhood she has seen that blue eyes and blonde hair epitomized beauty and thought that if she owns a pair of blue eyes, she too would get adoration from people.
Pecola is the central character of the story but her character is shown as flaccid and inexplicable. She was always shown as the tormented one and object of others resentment and maltreatment. Pecola had wished and yearned for love and she wanted to run away from her home to avoid loveless family quarrel between her mother and father. But when she could do neither, she was gradually drawn into a fantasy world to ease away the pain of her existence. Towards the end of the novel, Pecola believes that her wish has been granted.
Pecola’s character is symbolic and represents black communities’ self hatred and belief in its own ugliness. The black people found solace that they were less ugly than Pecola and considered their sufferings to be less than that of Pecola’s. However, when Pecola loses her mind after being raped by her father, and shunned by society it symbolized human cruelty and its consequence.