Plot of the novel
The novel is set in year 1941 in Lorain, Ohio following the after years of Great Depression. It follows the life of a young African-American girl named Pecola who grows up being consistently regarded as “ugly”, due to her dark skin. The novel talks about the high beauty standards that are considered norm and any deviation from it is unacceptable.
Pecola firmly believes that “Whiteness” is the true beauty standard & thus forms her obsession with having blue eyes. Her own family life also has a huge impact on her self-worth. More she is neglected and mistreated, further she falls into her own make belief world. Pecola feels that if she had blue eyes, she would be free. The freedom from her blackness & ugliness!
Pecola comes to live the family of Claudia & this foster family becomes a stable part of her existence. The narration from Claudia’s point of view is an eye opener and you see how much she cares for Pecola.
The novel walks you through the suffering of a young black girl and the racism that she faces daily. Its comparable to some extent with the racism being prevalent in today’s world too. The unrealistic beauty standards provoke you to pause and reflect on the lives of impressionable girls. Are we so different today?
The graphic portions of the novel & the sexual abuse she suffers are gloomy and you feel the pain too. As a reader you might want to feel disconnected from the despair in the lives of the characters in the novel. Not all would like to read the book which leaves them sad and shows the ugly side of the world.
Toni Morrison through the book takes you to journey in past which was a reality till not so long and how it has shaped the western world.