I am always numbed after reading something that’s so tragic and heart breaking. Finished the book in the dead of the night and sleep wasn’t easy to come.
I didn’t know how to rate this book because obviously the theme was pinching me too much. It was infuriating, sickening, choking and confronting the part of me that thinks.
The ugliness and degradation of the characters is palpable, not because of their looks but because of their thoughts that make them almost inhuman.
Pecola Breedlove is an oppressed, abused girl born into the society conforming to racial discrimination . She is sneered at, tortured and molested not just by outsiders but even by her own father who behaves towards her like an animal. The incestuous, self-centred, abusive tendencies in her father are unforgiveable.
The society in which she lives is purulent by the notion of racial beauty. The idea of white supremacy is the norm of the society and accepted indirectly even by the Blacks.
The idea that she would be accepted only if she has blue eyes haunts Pecola forever. She craves for it, dies for it, prays for her eyes to be blue just so that she people would look at her with love and not disgust.She perceives a change in people’s eyes when they look at her and that torments her little soul. She is degraded only because she is ugly and submits to silence, self-abuse and depression. Her best hope is only to disappear.
Adults, older girls, shops, magazines, newspapers, window signs—all the world had agreed that a blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl child treasured.”
As long as she looked the way she did, as long as she was ugly, she would have to stay with these people. Somehow she belonged to them. Long hours she sat looking in the mirror, trying to discover the secret of the ugliness, the ugliness that made her ignored or despised at school, by teachers and classmates alike.
Each night, without fail, she prayed for blue eyes. Fervently, for a year she had prayed. Although somewhat discouraged, she was not without hope. To have something as wonderful as that happen would take a long, long time.
She is ready to do anything for a look of love, a touch of appreciation. Her own family adds to her loneliness with her Parents constant quarrels and disputes.
Pauline Breedlove and Cholly Breedlove have been oppressed and subjected to racial humiliation in their youth and that is what they take out on their children.
Their racial identity suffocates and blinds them to vindictiveness and their inner rage bedevils them to hurt others to meliorate their own crushed feelings.
The justification and humanization of their characters doesn’t bring appeasement. It only disgusts and nauseates more if possible.
Among them are the MacTeers. They are the part of the same society but they are responsible towards their children even with their limited means. The love they show is rough and intermittent but it is still love and support anyways.
The Breedloves on the other hand have succumbed to the society and their own tragic circumstances collapse them further to destruction.
Pecola’s best hope was to disappear and is now in her own complex world where she has blue eyes to imagine and company of an imaginary friend who thinks she has the bluest eyes of all.
She hasn’t disappeared but is ignored by everyone. Her Society, her family has failed her and lost her eventually to their own brutality and unspeakable abuse and torments.
The bluest eyes reminds again that even the words can excruciate and bring pain. The scars that the body bears are easy to heal but that reach the soul remain there forever.