Character of Picola Breedlove in The Bluest Eye.
‘Pecola Breedlove is a tragic character in the novel’ – justify your answer.
Answer: The Bluest Eye, written by Toni Morrison is a very noteworthy work in English Literature. However, a tragic character is a creative art suffers from a tragic flaw. In a modern tragedy the tragic protagonist may suffer from the reason he or she is not responsible. In “The Bluest Eye”, Tony Morrison presents a more complicated portrayal of racism of an African American girl called Pecola Breedlove who suffers actually because of her color, appearance, and family origin. Needless to mention her suffering are psychological rather than physical which in a particular socio-historical context, she was not responsible. After the abolition of the enslavement of the black by Abraham Lincoln in the American Parliament, although the white can no longer torture them physically, they find out a cruel way to inflict them mentally. And this novel is the best example of it.
Pecola Breedlove is the scapegoat of society where the white want to tread down the existence of the black in the 1900’s establishing the fact that whiteness is the only object of worship and ugliness is a matter of despise and disgust. Here it is astonishing to find that how racism can ruin a person’s life.
Pecola is a little girl of eleven who expects parental love and affection but she is treated rudely even by her own parents because of her ugly appearance since her parents believe in the white standards of beauty. So in the place of receiving love, she is rewarded with hatred and is told from the day she was born that she has been ugly. Here we found a cruel picture of the United States of 1900’s where love and affection, family values, relationship between father and daughter; everything is destroyed because of racial issues.
She is frequently reminded of her unfairness everywhere by the society people. When she cannot bear the burnt of the excessive humiliation from the society people she lives in, she commences thinking over the transformation of her eyes so that everyone may love her. She highly wishes:
“If those eyes of hers were different, that is to say, beautiful, she herself would be different.”
She cannot stand the insult from other people. That is why, when she is laden with the huge psychological pressure, she expects to look different and prays each night for blue eyes. She thinks all the time that it is because of her ugly appearance, she is so rudely treated. When she realizes that Maureen Peal, a cute girl, is praised and flooded with admiration for the account of brighter complexion, she develops the fondness for possessing blue eyes.
Even at school she feels the racial distinction when the teachers and boys around her give her a look of disgust. However, in “The Bluest Eye”, Morrison also demonstrates the forces in white society that eat away at Pecola’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth with her encounter with Mr. Yacobowski, a fifty-two-year-old white immigrant storekeeper in her town. Although Pecola is a paying customer, Mr. Yacobowski eyes her with a total absence of human recognition. When she hands him the money, he hesitates, not wanting to touch her hand. When Pecola leaves the store, she once again sees herself as ugly and meaningless as a weed straining through a crack in the sidewalk. In addition to that, she is exceedingly hurt when Maureen Peal tries to establish the concept of white beauty standards as she boasts of her own beauty:
“I am cute! And you ugly!”
In the society she lives people here believe that whiteness is beautiful and blackness is ugly.
Once Pecola is invited to play by Junior, the son of Geraldine, but she rejects it. Within a short while, she is tempted to see some kitten at the house of Geraldine. No sooner has she been discovered by Geraldine in her house, she passes a merciless comment as it reads:
“You nasty little black bitch.
Get out of my house.”
Even if Geraldine is a black woman herself, she does not allow her son, Junior, to play with the lower-class niggers but prefers the upper-class fair people because she is also germinated with the conviction of the white standard of beauty. Actually, Pecola’s fate is a fate worse than death. As soon as she is brutally violated by her own father, Cholly Breedlove, the tragedy of her life has completed.
Towards the end of the novel, she becomes insane in the quest of blue eyes that she has never attained. Consequently she suffered from the inferiority complex. Although she has tried her utmost to find her identity in that society as human but she fails. At one stage she entertains the hope that if she had possessed the blue eyes, she would have been loved and adored much and then everything would have changed and been favorable to her.
When the society fails to nurture flowers like Pecola, when nourishment of the soul is denied, the fruit of self-love is never realized. And with that, Pecola is driven to insanity and her ultimate destination is the garbage heaps on the outskirts of town. However, the frustration of not attaining her identity in that society leads her to death.
From above discussion, it is quite apparent that she lives in a community where every emotion, every good thing depends on color. Here with the death of her self-respect in search of blue eyes lies the tragedy in her life. So Pecola Breedlove is certainly a tragic character.