A narrator, Claudia, explains that there were no marigolds in her community in the fall of 1941, which she believed was due to a girl named Pecola expecting her father's baby. She now thinks the earth was barren and says that their innocence, Pecola's baby, and Pecola's father are all dead, and she will relate what happened.

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Autumn: Chapter 1

Claudia describes her violent thoughts when her white neighbor Rosemary taunts her and her sister, Frieda. She also recounts when her mother got angry at her for catching a cold after a day out gathering coal. She says her family is getting a new boarder, Henry, and temporarily hosting Pecola Breedlove, whose father burned down their house. Claudia explains how her hate of a blonde, blue-eyed doll became a hatred of little white girls and later a false love of whiteness.

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Autumn: Chapter 2

There is an abandoned building in Lorain, Ohio. It had been occupied by a Gypsy family, then became a real-estate office, a bakery, and a pizza parlor. Before all those, it was occupied by the Breedloves. The furnishings in the apartment are aged but not by frequent use and don't hold any cherished memories.

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Autumn: Chapter 3

The Breedloves are Black and poor, and they believe they are ugly. Mrs. Breedlove fights with her husband as he refuses to get coal. Sammy attacks his father while Pecola wills herself to disappear and prays for blue eyes. After buying candy at a store whose white owner seems repulsed, Pecola decides that the blonde, blue-eyed Mary Jane on the candy wrapper is beautiful. Pecola visits the prostitutes in the apartment above hers who don't despise her and tell her about their boyfriends.

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Winter: Chapter 4

When Claudia, Frieda, and Maureen Peal, a wealthy light-skinned girl, walk home, they see some boys harassing Pecola. The sisters attack the boys, but the boys only leave to avoid fighting in front of Maureen. Maureen suggests having ice cream but only treats Pecola, embarrassing Claudia. The girls talk about movies, menstruation, babies, and naked men. As the sisters get home, Henry gives them money for ice cream. When they return, Henry is entertaining two prostitutes. The sisters decide to keep his secret.

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Winter: Chapter 5 

The narrator describes Geraldine as a type of Black woman who comes from a rural town, is educated and graceful, takes care of her house, but only feels affection for the household cat. She has a son named Junior who torments the cat and other children. Junior lures Pecola into his home, throws the cat in her face, then after seeing Pecola caress the cat, throws it against a window. When his mother finds the cat inert, Junior says that Pecola has killed it, so Geraldine scolds and sends Pecola away.

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Spring: Chapter 6

Frieda’s parents scare Henry away after he touches Frieda’s breast. A neighbor suggests Frieda might be "ruined.” The sisters associate "ruined" to being fat, conclude that whiskey might keep Frieda thin, and decide to ask Pecola for whiskey from her father. Informed that Pecola is at her mother's workplace, a house in a white neighborhood, they go there. Pecola drops a cobbler and burns herself. Her mother beats her, sends the girls away, and comforts the little white girl who lives in the house.

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Spring: Chapter 7

A fifteen, Pauline Breedlove married Cholly. Feeling isolated, she argued with Cholly over money and drinking. She found work in a white woman's house but lost it because of Cholly. After Sammy's birth, their marriage improved, but when Pauline lost a tooth and started feeling ugly, they fought again. She was happy when Pecola was born but considered her ugly. Pauline joined the church, started working for a wealthy white family, and neglected her own.

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Spring: Chapter 8

Abandoned as a baby, Cholly is raised by his Great Aunt Jimmy. When Cholly has sex for the first time, white hunters spot him and his girl and force them to continue under their watch. Cholly searches for his father, whom he finds gambling. After his father mistakes him for a creditor and curses him, Cholly starts living in a dangerous way. He marries Pauline but feels trapped and begins to drink. One day, Cholly comes home drunk, finds Pecola, and rapes her.

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Spring: Chapter 9

After a failed marriage, studies, and jobs, Soaphead came to Lorain as an interpreter of dreams. When Pecola asks him to give her blue eyes, he tricks her into poisoning a dog to get her wish. After the dog dies and Pecola leaves, Soaphead writes a letter to God describing his love for young girls and bragging about granting Pecola her wish.

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Summer: Chapter 10

As Claudia and Frieda sell seeds to earn money for a bicycle, they learn that Pecola was impregnated by her father and beaten by her mother. After they hear adults blaming Pecola, Claudia and Frieda feel sorry for Pecola and decide to help by praying and giving a sacrifice. They will bury their seed money by Pecola's house and bury the rest of the seeds in their yard, Claudia will sing, and Frieda will say the magic words.

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Summer: Chapter 11

Pecola talks to an imaginary friend about her new blue eyes, how people don't look at her anymore, why she left school, her rape, and how her father and brother are gone for good. Claudia describes Pecola's mad behavior, wandering the streets and flapping her arms like a bird. Claudia and Frieda feel they have failed Pecola as their flowers don't grow and Pecola's baby is stillborn. Cholly dies in a workhouse, and Pecola and Mrs. Breedlove move to a house on the edge of town. Claudia blames the town and herself for using Pecola to feel better about themselves.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Summer: Chapter 11