Character of Pecola in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye.
Protagonist: Pecola is the protagonist of The Bluest Eye, but despite this central role; she is passive and remains a mysterious character. Pecola is the eleven-year-old black girl around whom the story revolves. She is abused by almost everyone in the novel and eventually suffers two hurtful rapes. Pecola’s experiences, however, are not classical of all black girls. She is frequently called “ugly” by nearly everyone in her life, from the mean kids at school to her own mother.
Sorrows: Pecola has never had proper clothing or food, and she is eventually put out of her own home because her father starts a fire in one of his drunken stupors and burns down the house.
Desire form the basis of her emotional life: Pecola is a weak and gentle child when the novel begins, and by the novel’s close, she has been almost completely destroyed by violence. We find two desires form the basis of her emotional life: first, she wants to learn how to get people to love her; second, when forced to witness her parents’ brutal fights, she simply wants to disappear. Pecola is forced further and further into her imaginary world, which is her only defense against the pain of her existence.
Her Belief: She believes that being granted the blue eyes that she wishes for would change both how others see her and what she is forced to see. At the novel’s end, she delusively believes that her wish has been granted, but only at the cost of her rationality.
False Belief: Pecola begins to believe that if she could just achieve physical beauty, her life would automatically improve, and her parents wouldn’t fight so much. This false belief turns out to be completely critical to Pecola, overwhelming her whole life and, eventually, her rationality.
Fate: Pecola’s fate is a fate worse than death because she is not allowed any release from her world—she simply moves to “the edge of town, where you can see her even now.”
A symbol of the black: Pecola is also a symbol of the black community. Others in the community, including her mother, father, and Geraldine, act out their own self-hatred by expressing hatred toward her. Her ugliness has made the entire community feel beautiful, her suffering has made them feel comparatively lucky, and her silence has given them the opportunity for speaking. But because she continues to live after she has lost her mind.
Wandering: Pecola’s aimless wandering at the edge of town worries the community, retelling them of the ugliness and hatred that they have tried to repress. She becomes a reminder of human cruelty and an emblem of human suffering.
Victim: Pecola is constantly victimized and humiliated throughout the novel. When we first meet her she is homeless. Later she is teased by Bay Boy, Woodrow Cain, and Maureen Peal. She is also raped by her own father. By the end of the novel, Pecola has completely lost touch with reality. Unable to process and accept the fact that she has been raped by her father, she becomes committed that everyone in town is looking at her strangely because she received her wish of blue eyes.