Pecola as a Central Character

When I began reading “The Bluest Eye,” I read the foreword, which elucidated many parts of the novel that might have otherwise confused me. What sticks out the most in looking back on this novel is Pecola’s designation as the main character. Morrison writes, “the main character could not stand alone since her passivity made her a narrative void. So I invented friends, classmates” (X). This confession startled me at the time but I proceeded to read with a fixation on any mention of Pecola, knowing she was meant to be the focal point of the plot. And she is the focal point at a distance–a force that whispers through the lifelines of all other characters, connecting their disparate situations, but she seems to belong to the realm of in-between–a character that exists in tension but not on her own. It is an odd situation when the main character cannot bear the weight of the plot. In the end, when Morrison forces her to confront that role and take her place as the primary voice, she crumbles. Pecola’s split personality then seems less like a necessary reaction to traumatic events, and more like a literary device to ease the burden of Pecola’s designation as plot-bearer.

1 Comment

  1. I don’t know if I necessarily agree that Morrison’s approach to Pecola’s characterization was well accomplished. I see the value of telling her story from an outside perspective mediated through the impressions of those around her, but am not convinced Pecola could not have sustained the double role of plot-bearer and narrator. If anything, the final split-personality scene demonstrates just how interesting the novel would be if told from her perspective from the beginning. This is not to say that Morrison failed to tell her story as she planned (though she expresses her own doubts), rather I think that omitting Pecola’s interiority and focussing on her through the perspective of others detracts from our ability to understand her and leaves us in the realm of Pity which Morrison claims she was trying to avoid.

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