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Evil of Fulfillment
The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison, tells the sordid story of Pecola, a young colored girl, as she struggles to attain beauty, desperately praying for blue eyes. Depicting the fallacies in the storybook family, Morrison weaves the histories of the many colored town folk into the true definition of a family. Through intense metaphor and emotion, the ugliness of racial tension overcomes the search for beauty and in turn the search for love.
Pecola, a twelve year old from a broken home, is first introduced when she is sent to live with Claudia (the narrator) and her family. Her father, Cholly Breedlove, a drunk, has burnt down the family's home and is now in jail. Here we see Pecola's want for beauty and her obsession with Shirley Temple and blonde haired, blue-eyed baby dolls as a common desire of young black females. This want for beauty is really a yearning for love, the love and adoration they see attributed to the living "dolls."
[I wanted] to discover what eluded me: the secret of the magic they weaved on others. What made people look at them and say "Awwwww," but not for me? The eye slide of black women as they passed them on the street, and the possessive gentleness of their touch as they handled them (15).
The children, so used to being beaten or whipped, have memories only of this treatment. They have never felt the warmth or love that they believe the white children receive. This pain turns them to believe that it is because of their color, their dark skin, dark eyes, and "woolly" hair, that they are not seen as being beautiful, and from these thoughts they begin to hate the beauty of the white children. Living in fear of her parents, Pecola becomes introverted and learns as many of the other children to deal with the pain. "[Mama's song] left me with the conviction that pain was not only endurable, it was sweet" (18).
An undertone of sexual fantasies and discovery is present throughout the novel, as many of the characters have been products of loveless relationships. The men especially seek passion in the young girls, leading eventually to the confrontation between Pecola and Cholly, during which he rapes and impregnates her still developing body. It is after this immoral act that Pecola seeks Soaphead Church for the answer to her prayers.
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A self proclaimed miracle worker and spiritual advisor, she visits him hoping that he will save her from her ugliness with his almighty powers. After making her plea for blue eyes, Soaphead is overcome, "Here was an ugly little girl asking for beauty. A surge of love and understanding swept through him, but was quickly replaced by anger. Anger that he was powerless to help her" (138). The "little black girl who wanted to rise up out of the pit of her blackness and see the world with blue eyes" (138), evokes in Soaphead the desire to have the power to work miracles, which up until this time he had never really wanted. Through her innocent request, Pecola symbolizes all that is wrong in the world.
As Soaphead feigns an act of God, he convinces Pecola that she does indeed have blue eyes. Her joy of finally obtaining the beauty for which she has so desperately prayed comes only from the fact that in those few moments Soaphead has loved her. He has loved her as no one else has before, loved her enough to lie rather than see her unhappy any longer. Unfortunately, as with most things, her blue eyes cannot keep her happy. She is always looking at the blue eyes of others wondering if hers are the bluest eyes in the world, fearful that somewhere, someone has bluer eyes. And so, "the horror at the heart of her yearning is exceeded only by the evil of fulfillment" (162).