On the evening of her first menstruation, for example, she asks, How do you do that? I mean, how do you get somebody to love you. And, after a visit to Marie, Poland, and China, Pecola ponders, What did love feel like?… How do grownups act when they love each other? Eat fish together? ” (Bloom, 26)
The question of how to get somebody to love you is significant for the understanding of the loveless world which Pecola inhabits. In her world self-love, love of the others, and being loved by the others are all missing. As M. Miner notices, the image Pecola could have had of love is even more shattered when her own father rapes her, an act which to her can only mean that, for her, love can only be dirty and ugly, just like she feels about herself:
When Cholly rapes his daughter, he commits a sacrilege — not only against Pecola, but against her vision of love and its potential. Following the rape, Pecola, an unattractive eleven-year-old black girl, knows that for her, even love is bound to be dirty, ugly, of a piece with the fabric of her world. Desperate, determined to unwind the threads that compose this fabric, Pecola falls back on an early notion: the world changes as the eyes which see it change. To effect this recreation, Pecola seeks out the only magician she knows, Soaphead Church, and presents him with the only plans she can conceive. She asks that he make her eyes different, make them blue — blue because in Pecolas experience only those with blue eyes receive love: Shirley Temple, Geraldines cat, the Fisher girl.” (Bloom, 25)
Another striking symbol in the story, is that of the white dolls that the black girls play with. Claudia playing with the white dolls, tells of her act trying to dismantle the dolls, in order for her to be able to understand the essence of their whiteness, as Cat Moses relates in her article discussing Toni Morrisons book:
Describing her gradual awareness that her violent dismembering of white baby dolls was unacceptable, Claudia speaks of a conversion “from pristine sadism to fabricated hatred to fraudulent love…. I learned much later to worship [Shirley Temple], just as I learned to delight in cleanliness, knowing, even as I learned, that the change was adjustment without improvement” (Bloom, 56)
Later on in the novel, when we intimate that Pecolas rape had an even more unfortunate outcome, a baby who dies, the author makes a striking parallel between the white dolls that the little black girls where worshipping as part of the Shirley Temple and whiteness cult, and the black boy that nobody wanted:
thought about the baby that everyone wanted dead, and saw it very clearly. It was in a dark, wet place, its head covered with Os of wool, the black face holding, like nickels, two clean black eyes, the flared nose, kissing-thick lips, and the living, breathing silk of black skin. No synthetic yellow bangs suspended over marble-blue eyes, no pinched nose and bowline mouth.
More strongly than my fondness for Pecola, I felt a need for someone to want the black baby to live – just to counteract the universal love of white baby dolls, Shirley Temples, and Maureen Peals.” (Morrison, 190)
Moreover, these dramatic implications extend to the past also: Cholly, who had raped his own daughter had been himself a victim in the past, when he had been mocked and humiliated by the white people who surprised him during his first sexual experiences with Darlene.
Thus, Morrisons novel is about the social construct of the idea of beauty, which underlies even racial discrimination, about intolerance and despise, and about lack of love and identity. All these are concentrated in the view of the self and the other, and in the symbolic image of ” little black girl who wanted to rise up out of the pit of her blackness and see the world with blue eyes.” (Morrison, 174)
To wish for blue eyes becomes in the novel the most powerful example of the color issue: the girl does not wish for white skin, but for blue eyes, that would not only make her different and beautiful, but that would afford her another vision of the world, giving the reader understand that the world can look different when seen through the blue eyes. Not only perception would change, but actually the events in Pecolas life, from love to all the other types of human relationships would be born.
As it is, the girl has to look in the mirror and try to understand her own self through the eyes of the others, through the blue eyes:” “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.” (Morrison, 45)
The conclusion of the novel is thus that beauty and ugliness depend on color of the eyes through which the world is seen, and which is significantly a third color, another than white and black: the color blue of the eye, that is vision and perception is what actually divides the human world.
Bloom, Harold ed. Toni Morrisons “The Bluest Eye,” Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 1999
Butler- Evans, Elliot
Race, Gender, and Desire: Narrative Strategies in the Fiction of Toni Cade Bambara, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker, New York: Temple University Press, 1989 www.questia.com/SM.qst?act=adv&contributors=Doreatha%20Drummond%20Mbalia&dcontributors=Doreatha+Drummond+Mbalia” Mbalia, Doreatha Drummond, Toni Morrison Developing Class-Consciousness, Susquehanna: Susquehanna University Press, 2002
Morrison, Toni The Bluest Eye, New York: Random House,.