Blonde hair, blue eyes, and white skin was the envy of most young African American girls in the 1940's. In this modernist and coming of age tragic novel is called The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, Pecola Breedlove, an eleven-year-old black girl is a victim of racial self-loathing and also rape by her father which results in pregnancy. Described as submissive, ugly, and ignorant, she is labelled the outcast amongst the black community of Lorain, Ohio. Though Pecola does have some friends, Claudia and Frieda Macteer, she wants to be accepted and loved by others.
Pecola grows up in an abusive and un-loving family. She longs to disappear from the face of the Earth to rid her of her problems; however, it soon drives her into a yearning to become beautiful. Pecola gets the idea that if her brown eyes were to turn blue, her world would be different.
Morrison portrays childhood as not ideal through the use of symbolism as it is heavily used throughout,
This is a symbol for the harshness and internalized racism that occurred within their own community, who did not support or nurture its most vulnerable member; the child Pecola. It suggests they perceive Pecola as a nusicance and use her ‘ugliness’ in order to make themselves feel beautiful, making clear how a community can fail it’s children.
Another symbol that occurs is the Marigolds,
“Quiet as it’s kept, there were no marigolds in the fall of 1941.”
Claudia and Frieda associated the marigolds with the safety and well-being of Pecola’s baby. It represents the innocence and naivety of children, also showing their vulnerability
“..it was all my fault.”
Their ceremonial offering of money and the remaining unsold marigold seeds represents an honest sacrifice on their part. They believe that if the marigolds they have planted grow, then Pecola’s baby will be all right. More generally, the marigolds represented the constant renewal of nature. In Pecola’s case, this cycle of renewal is perverted by her father’s actions of raping her.
To Pecola, blue eyes symbolize the beauty and happiness that she associates with the white, middle-class world. They also come to symbolize her own blindness as when she is walking along the avenue to the shop she says;
“Why, she wonders do people call them weeds? She thought they were pretty.”
This is ironic as she observes the dandelions as being pretty, whilst the remainder of Pecola’s community despise them and rid of them but she doesn’t see the beauty that she endures within herself, this immediately transforms after her encounter with Mr. Yacobowski when;
“Somewhere between retina and object, between vision and view, his eyes draw back and hesitate, and hover”
The fact that he can no more than look at Pecola shows the treatment they received in the 1940’s society. Pecola feels rejected and transfers her feelings back