The Bluest Eye

by: Toni Morrison

Pauline Breedlove

Characters Pauline Breedlove

Like Cholly, Pauline inflicts a great deal of pain on her daughter but Morrison nevertheless renders her sympathetically. She experiences more subtle forms of humiliation than Cholly does—her lame foot convinces her that she is doomed to isolation, and the snobbery of the city women in Lorain condemns her to loneliness. In this state, she is especially vulnerable to the messages conveyed by white culture—that white beauty and possessions are the way to happiness. Once, at the movies, she fixes her hair like the white sex symbol Jean Harlow and loses her tooth while eating candy. Though her fantasy of being like Harlow is a failure, Pauline finds another fantasy world—the white household for which she cares. This fantasy world is more practical than her imitation of Hollywood actresses and is more socially sanctioned than the madness of Pecola’s fantasy world, but it is just as effective in separating her from the people—her family—she should love. In a sense, Pauline’s existence is just as haunted and delusional as her daughter’s.