10 terms

The Bluest Eye Quotes

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"Outdoors, we knew, was the real terror of life. The threat of being outdoors surfaced frequently in those days. Every possibility of excess was curtailed with it."
Homelessness is an ever-present reality for working-class blacks in Lorain. Moreover, being "outdoors" also means being without a safe place emotionally, as in being loved by a family.
"The Breedloves did not live in a storefront because they were having temporary difficulty adjusting to the cutbacks at the plant. They lived there because they were poor and black, and they stayed there because they believed they were ugly."
The Breedloves' live in a storefront, representative of feeling exposed and having their lives on display for others to mock or condemn. They stay there because they have internalized racism and believe they are unworthy of a better life.
"This disrupter of seasons was a new girl in school named Maureen Peal. A high-yellow dream child with long brown hair braided into two lynch ropes that hung down her back."
Maureen is most likely bi-racial, or at least light-skinned. This affords her a kind of superiority among her peers who believe white is better than black. When she befriends Pecola, however, she is not honest in her intentions. Really, she wishes to learn about Pecola's homelife so she can gossip about her. This is foreshadowed by the image of her hair as "two lynch ropes," since lynch ropes were used to hang black people.
"The soil is bad for certain kinds of flowers. Certain seeds it will not nurture, certain fruit it will not bear..."
This quote suggests that society is to blame, in part, for what happens to Pecola, because people do nothing to help her when she gets pregnant. Instead they look away and shun her, and she is left to go insane.
"She had explained to him the difference between colored people and n****s. They were easily identifiable. Colored people were neat and quiet; n****s were dirty and loud."
Geraldine internalizes, and teaches, a racial hierarchy to her son Louis. She worships whiteness quite literally with the portrait of Jesus, and associates cleanliness and good behavior with white people, and dirtiness and loudness with "bad" black people. In doing so, she teaches her son to hate his own skin color, and this fosters a lot of anger in him.
"Here was an ugly little girl asking for beauty....A little black girl who wanted to rise up out of the pit of her blackness and see the world with blue eyes. His outrage grew and felt like power. For the first time he honestly wished he could work miracles."
This passage suggests that Soaphead understands Pecola's request, and feels great anger that he cannot help her. It also reminds reader of Soaphead's own racial self-hatred through the phrase "pit of her blackness." Because he is powerless, he is angry, and anger at times feels like power. This is why he decides to "give" her blue eyes through his fake magic.
"I am cute! And you ugly! Black and ugly black e mos. I am cute!"
Despite her higher status, Maureen Peal also feels insecure, as she constantly repeats "I am cute" to validate herself. This shows that even among the lighter-skinned black children, there is feeling of worthlessness. She bullies Pecola because she herself feels bad about being black.
"She needed Cholly's sins desperately."
Pauline "needs" Cholly's sins to feel better about herself. Next to him, she looks good, because she is not a raging, abusive alcoholic. However, ironically, she is not a good parent either. The fights between Cholly and Pauline make Pauline feel better about herself, and yet they reveal what a terribly dysfunctional family they are.
"If Pecola had announced her intention to live the life they did, they would not have tried to dissuade her or voiced any concern."
The whores are not good role models for Pecola. They, too, have had difficult lives, but they have learned to accept them, so they would not try to steer Pecola into a different kind of life. Without strong role models or anyone explaining to her the difference between sex and love, Pecola becomes very damaged.
"Remove the cold and stupid eyeball, it would bleat still... take off the head, shake out the sawdust, crack the back against the brass bed rail, it would bleat still. The gauze back would split, and I could see the disk with six holes, the secret of the sounds. A mere metal roundness."
Claudia takes apart the white baby dolls to see what makes everyone love them so much, but she finds nothing there. Metaphorically, this proves that beauty is only skin deep. People are in love with the appearance -- the white beauty -- of the dolls, but Claudia sees beyond that. This shows that she is very mature for her age.