The Bluest Eye uses multiple narrators, including Claudia as a child, Claudia as an adult, and an omniscient narrator. Which narrative point of view do you think is most central to the novel and why?
A case can be made for the centrality of any of the three narrators listed above. The perspective of the adult Claudia frames the novel—the second section of the prologue and the novel’s last chapter are told from her point of view. These opening and closing sections say the most about what Pecola’s story means, and our efforts to make sense of the story therefore depend upon and parallel the adult Claudia’s efforts. But Claudia’s childlike perspective is also crucial. She is similar to Pecola in age and social status, and therefore possesses special insight into the nature and meaning of Pecola’s suffering. At the same time, she is comparatively more confident and secure than Pecola, so she can articulate things that Pecola cannot. The omniscient narrator is also central to the telling of the story, because she provides information about Cholly’s and Pauline’s pasts, which make them more sympathetic and give the novel its broader scope. Without the character backgrounds provided by this omniscient perspective, Pecola’s tragedy might be too senseless for the novel to hold together.
Who do you think is the most sympathetic character in the novel and why?
The Bluest Eye is a novel about racism, and yet there are relatively few instances of the direct oppression of black people by white people in the book. Explain how racism functions in the story.