What does the title mean?

The Bluest Eye refers to Pecola’s wish for blue eyes, based on her belief that having blue eyes would make people love her. She comes to this conclusion because of the way society prizes whiteness as the most beautiful, epitomized by blue eyes. For example, Mrs. Breedlove treats the Fisher family’s blue-eyed daughter with love that she never shows her own children. However, even after Pecola believes she has gained blue eyes, she worries that unless her eyes are the very bluest she still won’t be loved. Through her logic, the person with the bluest eye is the most beautiful and therefore most loveable. 

How do Claudia and Frieda feel about Pecola?

Claudia and Frieda have a complicated relationship with Pecola. Throughout the novel, they seem to treat Pecola as a peer. They even stand up for her when she’s teased by the boys at school. However, there is an ulterior motive to their kind treatment. Claudia explains, “we were so beautiful when we stood aside her ugliness.” That is, Pecola—unloved, poor, and ugly by society’s standards—makes Claudia and Frieda feel better about themselves. Even if they cannot have the social privileges of being light skinned like Maureen, they can take comfort in the fact that they are not Pecola.

Why is the novel divided into seasons?

The seasons bring to mind agricultural imagery of planting and harvesting. Alongside the depiction of young girls coming of age, this agricultural metaphor raises the question of how Pecola can possibly grow in this environment that despises her and gives her no care. The novel ends with summer, never making it to another autumn’s harvest, which emphasizes the tragedy that neither Pecola, lost in her delusions, nor her baby will mature. As Claudia observes, “This soil is bad for certain kinds of flowers.” In other words, this environment does not nurture Black girls, especially poor Black girls like Pecola. 

Why does Claudia hate white dolls?

Claudia hates white dolls because the adults expect her to prize them, telling her the dolls are beautiful and deserve careful treatment. Implicit in her hatred is anger over the fact that the adults around her don’t treat her with gentleness or care. Even in Claudia’s memory of her mother tending to her when she’s ill, which she describes as a memory of love, her mother treats her roughly while scolding her. Claudia’s anger therefore gestures to the unfairness of society’s privilege of whiteness, that even a white doll is expected to be treated with more kindness than a real Black child.

What does Soaphead Church do to Pecola?

Soaphead Church tricks Pecola into giving the old dog, Bob, poison. He promises that if she feeds the dog the meat he gives her, and the meat causes the dog’s behavior to change, she will receive blue eyes. In his self-aggrandizing letter to God, Soaphead Church claims that he has answered prayers that God refused by convincing Pecola that she now has blue eyes. Indeed, Pecola believes that her eyes truly have turned blue, but in reality nothing has changed.