Bluest Eye Summary
Toni Morrison’s debut novel, The Bluest Eye, tells the story of a young African American girl, Pecola, who develops an inferiority complex because of the color of her skin. Set in Lorain, Ohio, The Bluest Eye deals with numerous controversial themes, including racism, incest, and molestation.
Nine-year-old Claudia McTeer lives with her 10-year old sister, parents, and two others, a tenant and Pecola, a foster child placed with the McTeer’s after her father burned down their house. Pecola is quiet and withdrawn, the product of an abusive household. Always told that she is ugly, Pecola desires only to have blue eyes.
The novel also tells the story, through flashbacks, of the younger days of Pecola’s parents, Cholly and Pauline, and their struggles growing up black in a largely white, Anglo-Saxon community. Pauline works as a domestic for a wealthy, white family, and Pecola becomes her assistant. One day, while doing the dishes, Cholly rapes her, impregnating her and fleeing. Claudia and her sister begin to plant marigold seeds, believing that if the flowers bloom, Pecola’s baby will be born healthy. The flowers never bloom, and the baby dies.
The novel then switches to a dialogue between two sides of Pecola’s split personality, where she discussed being raped by her own father. Part of this personality believes that her wish has come true, that she does have blue eyes. In the final section, an adult Claudia tells how Pecola went insane and the way the community mistreated her.