And Pecola. She hid behind hers. Concealed, veiled, eclipsed—peeping out from behind the shroud very seldom, and then only to yearn for the return of her mask.
As the narrator describes how each Breedlove feels about and uses his or her perceived ugliness, she explains that Pecola uses hers as a shield from others. Just like the owner of the grocery store, no one truly sees Pecola, and she seems to be a mystery even to readers. Throughout the novel, she continues turning into herself, living in a fantasy world where she has blue eyes and looks beautiful.
Pecola, on the other hand, restricted by youth and sex, experimented with methods of endurance. Though the methods varied, the pain was as consistent as it was deep. She struggled between an overwhelming desire that one would kill the other, and a profound wish that she herself could die.
Here, the narrator describes how Pecola and her brother, Sammy, each deal with the blowout fights between their parents. While Sammy has the option to leave the house for a few days, Pecola remains too young to go off on her own. Rather, she simply wishes the fights away. Just as she wishes for blue eyes, her station in life creates a circumstance in which she can only wish for things and not act.
These and other inanimate things she saw and experienced. They were real to her. She knew them. They were the codes and touchstones of the world, capable of translation and possession. She owned the crack that made her stumble; she owned the clumps of dandelions whose white heads, last fall, she had blown away; whose yellow heads, this fall, she peered into. And owning them made her part of the world, and the world a part of her.
As Pecola walks to the grocery store, she notes the things she sees around her, and the narrator explains how she interprets what she sees. While at home she tries to disappear into herself, when out Pecola tries to remind herself that she exists as part of the physical world. This exercise shows that Pecola has not given up on her life despite the violence and suffering around her.
“Help you how? Tell me. Don’t be frightened.” “My eyes.” “What about your eyes?” “I want them blue.”
When Pecola goes to see Soaphead Church, she asks him to turn her eyes blue. Pecola is old enough that she should know the impossibility in such a request, but she prays every night that her eyes will turn blue and then asks Soaphead for help anyway. Even though Pecola has experienced a good deal of misery, her desperate wish for blue eyes shows that, at this point in the story, she still possesses some innocence.
She spent her days, her tendril, sap-green days, walking up and down, up and down, her head jerking to the beat of a drummer so distant only she could hear. Elbows bent, hands on shoulders, she flailed her arms like a bird in an eternal, grotesquely futile effort to fly. Beating the air, a winged but grounded bird, intent on the blue void it could not reach—could not even see—but which filled the valleys of her mind.
Here, Claudia describes how Pecola behaves after being raped by her father and losing her baby. In addition to talking to an imaginary friend, Pecola makes bird-like motions, making her damaged mental state obvious to anyone she sees. Claudia notes that Pecola looks like she is trying to fly, which perhaps indicates that Pecola wants to escape from inside her own mind.