Much of this book centers around social pariahs, predominantly through the story of Pecola Breedlove, and the process by which their society casts them aside. Parallel to this process of not belonging, the author accentuates a hierarchy of personhood based upon another type of “belonging” – physical possessions and characters’ relations to them. Claudia maps out the social hierarchy determined by characters’ relations to property on pages 17-18, when she notes how Cholly Breedlove has propelled his family from the periphery of “renting blacks” into the wretched state of “outdoors.” When a character finds themselves “outdoors,” as Pecola does in this section, they are devoid of all possessions.

Some objects, illustrated in the case of Claudia and her doll, or the Breedlove’s sofa, are imposed upon characters involuntarily, standing as metaphors for the oppressive social restraints they endure. Whereas Claudia reacts to her doll with anger and destruction, though, rejecting its presence, the Breedloves simply seem to harbor an internalized resentment towards their furniture, but nonetheless accept it.

Later in the narrative, Morrison uses the term “belonging” to describe the ugliness that dominates the Breedlove household. She visualizes the ugliness contagion that originates from Cholly as a type of garment which each member of the family wears distinctly (39). Pecola comes to truly believe that the ugliness belongs to her, and like her family does the sofa, accepts her ugliness as a fact of her existence. Though she has brief moments wherein she expresses a sense of ownership and projects beauty, Pecola mainly sees her “ugliness” as a contaminant, and thus casts aside her beautiful dandelions as weeds (48). This action of discarding foreshadows the physical and spiritual destitution of Pecola’s character – as a result of constant rejection, she ultimately renders herself  “outdoors,” unworthy of both belongings and belonging.