Pecola Breedlove

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Toni Morrison (b. 1931) American novelist


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Is the protagonist in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye (1970). An African American girl whose family life is in stark contrast to the image of perfection suggested in the epigraph from the primer that opens the novel, Pecola's struggle is to be loved. She craves blue eyes, thinking that if she looked like the blue-eyed girls from storybooks, her parents, teachers, and boys would love her. Her tragedy is one that begins at home. Convinced of her ugliness, and finding no consolation from her parents—her mother works as a domestic and seems to treasure her white employer's daughter more than her own, and her alcoholic father fights with her mother—Pecola is forced into isolation and fantasizes about escaping into whiteness. The narrator of the novel, Claudia McTeer, and her sister Frieda attempt to befriend Pecola when she comes to live with their family, after the Breedlove family has been put outdoors. Pecola's only real consolation comes from occasional visits to three prostitutes who are the only ones who give her any attention aside from Soaphead Church, the bootleg preacher, who out of compassion for her convinces her that he has given her blue eyes. Pecola's story ends with the premature death of her baby, her plunge into insanity, and the community's attempt to deny its role in her tragic demise. The narrator explains that the community is ultimately responsible for Pecola's fate because it has chosen to ignore its own warped values, distorted aesthetics, and obvious shortcomings and to scapegoat her instead.

Michael Awkward, Inspiriting Influences: Tradition, Revision, and Afro-American Women's Novels, 1989.

Marilyn Sanders Mobley

Subjects: Literature.

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