Claudia narrates parts of The Bluest Eye, sometimes from a child’s perspective and sometimes from the perspective of an adult looking back. Like Pecola, Claudia suffers from racist beauty standards and material insecurity, but she has a loving and stable family, which makes all the difference for her. Whereas Pecola is passive when she is abused, Claudia is a fighter. When Claudia is given a white doll she does not want, she dissects and destroys it. When she finds a group of boys harassing Pecola, she attacks them. When she learns that Pecola is pregnant, she and her sister come up with a plan to save Pecola’s baby from the community’s rejection. Claudia explains that she is brave because she has not yet learned her limitations—most important, she has not learned the self-hatred that plagues so many adults in the community.
Claudia is a valuable guide to the events that unfold in Lorain because her life is stable enough to permit her to see clearly. Her vision is not blurred by the pain that eventually drives Pecola into madness. Her presence in the novel reminds us that most black families are not like Pecola’s; most black families pull together in the face of hardship instead of fall apart. Claudia’s perspective is also valuable because it melds the child’s and the adult’s points of view. Her childish viewpoint makes her uniquely qualified to register what Pecola experiences, but her adult viewpoint can correct the childish one when it is incomplete. She is a messenger of suffering but also of hope.