During my reading of The Bluest Eye, I was struck by a particular observation made by Claudia. In describing the situation of Pecola, her newly acquainted foster sister, Claudia mentions that she moves about “on the hem of life”, attempting to “creep singly up into the major folds of the garment” (17). She references this state as a peripheral existence, and one that is best dealt with in the abstract. I found this particular passage quite interesting, as much of the novel seems interested with the abstract as it relates to both the literary form and the character’s existence. The beginning of the novel, for example, presents a picturesque view of family life, detailing a house that’s filled with a happy, complete family. This presentation, however, becomes increasingly disjointed, eventually transforming into a mass of words that lacks any sense of logic or cohesion. Even more interesting is the occasional injection of these passages before a chapter, reminding the reader of the abstract way in which the novel is constructed.

What’s more intriguing to me, however, is the way in which this abstract method of writing relates to Pecola’s characterization. In addition to living on the fringes of society, she’s described as “concealed, veiled, eclipsed”, only occasionally peering out from “behind the shroud” (39). It’s interesting, and perhaps a little strange, to consider how Pecola’s own abstract, enigmatic characterization is the best way in which to understand her character. Much like Morrison’s introduction, Pecola’s own interiority can come across as simultaneously mysterious and revealing, developing the ways in which her character’s inferiority complex is constructed and displayed.