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Symbols in The Bluest Eye
Transcript of Symbols in The Bluest Eye
Represents societies perfect vision of beauty: the white blonde-haired blue-eyed female
Pecola dreams of being accepted by society so she feels that blues eyes will grant her this wish
" 'I can't go to school no more. And I thought maybe you could help me'...'My eyes'...'I want them blue.' " - 174 - Pecola express her number one desire when talking with Soaphead Church
The Black Cat
The cat is like an innocent bystander that becomes a symbol for something that it can't even understand
Geraldine is in love with this black cat since it gave her the attention she never received. The cat ultimately means more to her than her own son. His jealousy leads to its death.
"He had seen that expression many times as the animal responded to his mother's touch." - 90
Due to its white color, the milk represents the desire to be white as well as the whiteness of beauty.
The symbol reveals itself as it is Pecola that always drinks the milk and wants to be different, whereas Frieda and Claudia dislike milk and are proud of who they are.
" My mother knew Frieda and I hated milk and assumed Pecola drank it out of greediness." - 23
Pecola has a strange obsession with the cup with the Shirley Temple cup
The cup represents the standards of beauty for children , the standards for a more innocent section of society
Also she represents something likable which Pecola desires.
"Frieda and she had a loving conversation about how cu-ute Shirley Temple was." - 19
The Torn Sofa
The destruction of anything of comfort by society
The store destroyed the sofa and failed to take responsibility just as society is not responsible for the destruction of innocence - our sofa.
"[The sofa] had been purchased new, but the fabric had split straight across the back by the time it was delivered. The store would not take the responsibility..." - 36
The Color White
White typically represents purity and innocence; however, in
the novel whenever it is mentioned it is juxtaposed with something evil, harmful, or destroyed.
Both of the women Cholly sleeps with are wearing white dress with stains (pg 146 and 115)
Cholly views the 'white' version of God as evil
Soaphead Church, Maureen and Geraldine are all obsessed with the color and are all antagonists.
Cholly can represent the oppressive hand of society that slowly destroys the innocence of everyone
Cholly comes from a free past and creates a destructive future.
" Abandoned in a junk heap by his mother, rejected for a crap game by his father, there was nothing more to lose." - 160
Maureen Peal, Soaphead Church, and Geraldine
All of these individuals are characters that require the separation of races to feel powerful
They all have a quality of a white person
"[Maureen] was rich, at least by our standards, as rich as the richest white girl, swaddled in comfort and care." - 62
"Colored people were neat and quiet; niggers were dirty and loud." - 87 (Geraldine's opinion)
"...[Soaphead's ancestors] married "up," lightening the family complexion and thinning out the family features." - 168
The prostitutes, China, Miss Marie, and Poland all represent the power freedom from societal constraints provides
These three women have already been cast out of society so they are able to avoid the standard pressures of societal expectations which allows them to be better mothers to Pecola than her own mother.
"Three merry gargoyles. Three merry harridans. Amused by a long-ago time of ignorance." - 55
The candy represents the ruthless persistence of the white image: everything white is also sweet.
"A picture of little Mary Jane, for whom the candy is named. Smiling white face. Blond hair in gentle disarray, blue eyes looking at her world of clean comfort." - 50
They are typically considered weeds, but Pecola wonders why more people don't see them as beautiful.
The dandelions represent the less privileged black society where they may have qualities that most overlook due to the preconceived notions of race. (Coady).
"Why, she wonders, do people call them weeds? She thought they were pretty." - 47
Since Claudia and Frieda sell the seeds for profit, they are represented as a source of prosperity, hope and support. When they plant the seeds and they do not grow it represents everything Pecola is lacking.
Their plan - 191
"Our flowers never grew. I was convinced Frieda was right, that I had planted them too deeply. How could I have been so sloven? So we avoided Pecola Breedlove - forever." - 205