Free Study Guide: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison - Free BookNotes|
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THE BLUEST EYE: PRINTABLE STUDY GUIDE
Men who marry women like this know all their domestic needs will be met with rigor and efficiency. They do not know that this kind of woman will make her nest and make it an inviolable world, even from their husbands. They will only have sex when necessary and never give themselves to sexual pleasure freely. On occasion, this kind of woman will become attached to a living thing, often a cat, whose sensuality she can enjoy with circumspection. Her cat will be first in her affections, even above her child.
One such woman was named Geraldine. She married Louis and moved to Lorain, Ohio where she kept house and had a child, Louis Junior. She met Juniorís physical needs, but not his emotional needs. He noticed that her attentions always were spent on her cat and he began to hate the cat and try to torture it when left alone with it. They lived next door to Washington Irving School and Junior claimed the playground as his own. He played with white kids and the right kind of African-American kids. His mother had taught him the distinction between "colored people and niggers." "Colored people were neat and quiet; niggers were dirty and loud." He knew he belonged to the former category, but sometimes he found the dividing line hard to distinguish.
Junior once longed to play with other black boys. He wanted to play King of the Mountain with them and get pushed down so he would roll down with other boys and feel their "hardness pressing on him, smell their wild blackness, and say ĎFuck youí with that lovely casualness." At one time he idolized Bay Boy and P.L., but soon came to realize they were not good enough for him. He moved on to Ralph Nisensky, but Ralph didnít want to do anything. Then he found fun in bullying girls as they came by through the playground. He did not pick on "nigger girls" because they beat him up.
One day he saw Pecola pass by and noticed her because she was ugly.
He called her over and told her he had kittens to show her in his house.
When she got inside, he threw his motherís black cat at her and the cat
scratched Pecolaís face trying to get away. Before he had thrown the cat,
Pecola was in shock at the beauty of the house and its furnishings. While
she was crying, the cat rubbed her legs and Pecola began to rub it and
admire its blue eyes. Junior grabbed the cat away and started slinging
it around by its leg. She got it loose from him but it was thrown against
the window and slid down on the radiator unconscious. Just at that moment,
Juniorís mother came home and Junior blamed the catís supposed death on
Pecola. His mother saw in Pecola all that she had been running from all
her life. She called the little girl a "nasty little black bitch"
and ordered her out of the house. As Pecola stumbled out the door she
saw Jesus standing there with long brown hair and paper flowers around
This chapter breaks the unity of the novel by introducing another set of characters
who influence Pecolaís life. Geraldine is what is called color-struck.
She believes in a strict hierarchy of worth based on skin color with the
colors closest to white being esteemed the best. She has adopted a strict
code of respectability, often used by working-class people to emulate
the middle-class lifestyle. This code involves denying the bodyís pleasures,
keeping the home sacrosanct, imposing a distance between oneís own group
and those people one notch lower on the hierarchy of class and color.
Geraldine has raised a son who acts out the cruelty of an unloved existence
on those weaker than he is. In Junior, Morrison demonstrates the linkage
between racist oppression and gender oppression. Not surprisingly, Pecola
is on the very bottom of social estimation, lower even than a blue-eyed
black cat. The figure of Jesus she sees at the end of the chapter will
make his appearance later in the novel as Soaphead Church.
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. 09 May 2017