THE BLUEST EYE
The Bluest Eye is a complex book. Substance wise it is a disturbing yet relatively easy read, but Toni Morrison plays with the narrative structure in a way so that complexity is added to the hidden depth of the text. From the beginning to the end of the book, the author takes the reader through a series of point of views that take turns in narrating the story. But by the end of the book, the author leaves the reader unclear on who the actual main character of the book is. Pecola Breedlove, although never the narrator, seems to be the constant victim and equally the main character of the story.
Many readers can see the book as a story about Claudia MacTeer, who is the main narrator of the book, but most everything she narrates has a direct tie to Pecola’s life. From the very start, Claudia describes the home environment in which she lives in. That home environment is linked to how Pecola comes to live with them and what affect the two had on each other. Pecola’s presence slightly foreshadows her future longing for blue eyes by showing the great interest she had in Shirley Temple, who was known for being a pretty white girl. Claudia then goes into a series of stories and descriptions of what type of environment Pecola must live in at her own home. She describes the abandoned store in which the Breedlove family lives in and the terrible condition of the furniture, which reflects the type of family the Breedloves are. Whether it was Claudia or another unknown third person narrator, a specific situation is described in a brutal manner of exactly what type of environment exists in Pecola’s home. The situation was where Cholly and Polly fight each other with little hesitation or thought, and the brief narration ends with how Pecola is affected by such actions. Claudia’s experiences are even more tied to Pecola’s life through the events that occurred with Maureen Peal. Claudia begins describing Maureen as her own enemy but soon enough Maureen is introduced into Pecola’s life along with the point of view she had upon the ugly child. Maureen was fascinated by Pecola, which represents one of the many characters who looked down upon her. Along with the narration of Claudia and the third person, Cholly and Polly have a significant representation in the story.
The springtime is used to represent the birth of new love and appropriately the origins of Cholly and Polly is the main story. The chapter describes how the two were in love and describes in depth the growth of both. Rather than being seen as a story of another character, the origins of Cholly and Polly can be seen as the explanation of Pecola and her condition, which heightens the idea of Pecola being the main character. Starting from birth, Cholly was abandoned, he then abandoned his own life in search of his father. The cruelty of his father had a big impact on the future of Cholly and the life he led as an adult. Cholly never had a father figure in his life and so he never learned to become a father, which became a proponent of Pecola’s psychological downfall. Polly as a child always played the role of a housewife. She had great aspirations of one day meeting her prince and living a wonderful life. She thought she found him in Cholly when he came along and cared for her lame foot, but as she and Cholly began to have more problems, she began to take out her anger for Cholly onto her children. Quickly, the Breedlove household became full of hate and that hate was thrown onto the innocent Pecola. Throughout the entire book though, different characters laid their hate and insecurity upon the innocence of Pecola.
More than simply specific characters, by the end of the book, Pecola became the scapegoat of the entire town, “She be lucky if it don’t live. Bound to be the ugliest thing walking. Can’t help but be. Ought to be a law: two ugly people doubling up like that to make more ugly. Be better off in the ground.” (pg.189-90) Pecola continues to stay as the focus of the story but plays more a character that makes the town feel better about themselves by looking down upon Pecola. Regardless the negative or positive light Pecola is seen in, she is the main character to whom the story belongs.
Even though Pecola had no narrative role in the story, she still was the main character. The author’s use of narrative structure that confuses the reader of who the main character was purposely done so to effectively portray Pecola as a character that no one actually knows personally yet can easily hate or love. Pecola’s experiences would have less meaning coming from Pecola herself because a total and complete victim as herself would be an unreliable narrator to relate the actual circumstances of the story. The author also makes it difficult to determine whom the main character is in order to keep the reader as an observer and to draw more emotion for Pecola because consistently throughout the book the reader pities the innocence of Pecola.