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essay will examine the ways that gender, race, and class shape the life and
fate of the African American protagonist of the novel “The Bluest Eye”, Pecola
Breedlove, who is a victim of violence and hatred provoked by her community. Racism,
sexism, and classism, not only from the white world but also from the Black
community, drove Pecola insane, as by the end of the novel she becomes totally
shattered by the societal and psychological oppression she endured.  

begin with, growing up black and female in a society which worships white
beauty standards led the protagonist of the novel to racial self-loathing and
eventually self- destruction. For example, the white blond-haired and blue-eyed
baby dolls, which are regularly given as presents to the girls, represent an
image of feminine perfection, which Pecola desires in order to gain acceptance
and respect in her society. Moreover, she is fascinated by the Shirley Temple
cup, as she drinks “three quarts of milk” because she believes that she will
turn white and become like Shirley, who has blond curly hair and bright blue
eyes. Pecola cannot even enjoy a piece of candy without feeling that she is
different and lacking in some way in terms of beauty. When she goes to eat her
Mary Jane candy, she is mesmerized by the little girl of Mary Jane on the
cover, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl. Lastly, Pecola wants to look like Betty
Grable, the Hollywood actor, who embodies the idealized beauty standards with
her blond hair and blue eyes. These contributed to the idolization of white
culture and influenced the identity of Pecola, who came to loath her own
blackness and “ugliness”. 

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pushed to the periphery on account of her gender, Pecola’s life was full of
horrors, as she faced atrocities like rape, exploitation and humiliation. Her
parents were neglecting her and failed to provide her with love and security,
due to their own self-hatred and perception of themselves as ugly. Pecola was
deprived from a healthy growth and development, as she was cruelly scorned by
her own mother and repeatedly being called ugly since her birth. However, what
led Pecola to her ultimate demise and destruction due to her vulnerable
position was her abusive and immoral father, who brutally raped her and left
her pregnant. There was no protection even from the men of the Black community,
as women were subordinate to men and had to fight for their survival both
inside and outside their homes.   

the novel, Pecola is marginalized in all domains of her everyday life and a
victim of racial segregation, oppression and discrimination. Her own mother,
Pauline Breedlove, preferred to care for other white girls rather than her own
daughter and everybody kept a distance from her due to her blackness, thus
making Pecola feel unwanted and shame for her skin color. For instance, the old
store-keeper looked at Pecola with neglect and despise when she went to the
store to buy candy, as Mr. Yacobowski was very rude to her and hesitated to
touch her in order to get the money, thus making Pecola believe that this
dislike comes from her blackness. Due to the constant rejection and
humiliation, Pecola internalized the opinions and views that others had for her
and lost herself to self-hatred and her only aim in life to be white.

            Additionally, Pecola gets teased and
bullied by the light-skinned girl, Maureen Peel, who makes Pecola feel
disgusted by telling her that “I am cute! And you ugly! Black and ugly”. Being
poor and black, she was harassed by the boys at the school who were “prepared
to sacrifice her to the flaming pit” by singing insulting songs of her skin
color and her father’s habit of sleeping naked. Pecola is constantly mocked and
reminded of what others think of her, therefore believing that it is all about
appearances and the superiority of having the beauty of white skin.

the people from her own race despised her and treated her like an untouchable
animal. Geraldine looked at Pecola with disgust, as she represented a class
full of sin, dirt, and cultural inferiority, which Geraldine wanted to wash
away from her and her son, Junior, beats Pecola with his mother’s cat and blames
Pecola of killing it. Moreover, the West Indian in the Soaphead Church
victimized Pecola by making her innocently poison a dog he despised. He also
calls her ugly and find her undesirable due to her blackness. Therefore, Pecola
was not only casted out by her own family, but she was also a social outcast,
alienated by her peers and even the people from the Black community.

class conflict in the novel is also an important issue, as the poor Breedlove
family is isolated and economically deprived by the dominant white culture,
thusly pushing Pecola towards marginality. The novel begins with a passage that
describes a typical white American family that all live in a pretty house. Dick
and Jane are promoted as moral and heroic kids, who are to be looked up to and
be imitated. Their life is depicted as ideal and perfect, something that the
poor black cannot attain, as Pecola and her family is exploited by the
capitalist ruling class, and they all have to struggle to survive the poverty,
in contrast with the upper white middle-class families.

            Additionally, the Breedloves due to
their financial status and economic ostracization lived in an abandoned
storefront and their living conditions were miserable, thusly being placed
lower in the class hierarchy. For instance, Geraldine wanted to be part of the
ruling class and considered herself to be a good and proper “colored person”, because
she was neat and had a beautifully decorated house. When she confronted Pecola,
she expressed hatred towards her as she loathed the poor and the “niggers” due
to their dirtiness and blackness. Pecola became the scapegoat of the black
community’s low-self esteem and self-hatred, and since she did not receive love
and affection from anyone in her life, she created an imaginary friend and got
completely detached from the reality.

conclusion, Pecola was physically and mentally deformed by the traumatic
conditions of racism, sexism and classism under which she lived.  She endured the toll of sexual assault by her
own father, alienation and repression by her society, and she eventually was
driven into madness as there was no savior for her to save her from her fate.
Pecola, the ugly black girl who did not meet the society’s standards, was
completely dehumanized and devalued because she was black, female and poor,
rejected by a community which was plagued by the virus of self-hatred. Her only
salvation and hope was to obtain blue eyes, which she eventually did, but in
the cost of her own sanity.










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