In Toni Morrison’s novel, The Bluest Eye, the author explores a variety of themes including race, physical beauty, sexuality, youth, and most profoundly, love. In The Bluest Eye, Morrison brings about an array of issues that beg the reader to contemplate the question: How might have Pecola’s fate been different had she been in a more stable environment?
The setting plays an important role in the novel, as the characters live in Ohio in 1941, post the Great Depression. Pauline and Cholly migrate to Ohio in hopes of a brighter economic future, free from the racism of the south. However, their efforts are thwarted by the problems that they encounter, such as judgment based on looks and race. These issues, in conjunction with their tumultuous pasts, create turmoil in the family, which soon bleeds into the formation of how Pecola perceives herself.
Pecola, the young daughter of Pauline and Cholly, faces a self-loathing about her own physical/racial identity that is heartbreaking and poignant. Pecola exists in a lonely world, in which she is alienated from both her parents and her lighter-skinned peers. Her insecurities lead her to fantasizing about becoming somebody different—a person with blue eyes (representing a white person) as opposed to who she is. The tribulations of Pecola’s life eventually spiral into her father raping her, and then losing her baby. Ultimately, Pecola becomes mentally unstable by the end of the book, believing that she actually has the blue eyes that she coveted for so long.
The torment that Pecola undergoes, particularly as a young child, is a painful result of abusive parents and social malice. Might have Pecola’s fate turned out differently, had her parents confronted their own demons and had become stronger from their past as opposed to taking out their aggressions on her? Would Pecola been able to be comfortable with herself, had her mother been more supportive? How do these issues in parenting relate to what we see in our very own classrooms with our students? And who is mostly to blame: her parents or society?