Pecola’s Interiority as an External Entity

Throughout this novel, Pecola has been described to us through the people around her. We know only a few things about her by her own telling; we know that she loves Shirley Temple, that she wants to disappear because her home life is pretty horrible, and that she wants blue eyes. In the last chapter section of the book, we see the closest thing that resembles Pecola’s inner monologue and thoughts: her conversation with an imaginary friend. This conversation is at times conflicting and at other times self-assuring. Her imaginary friend switches from telling Pecola how lovely her new blue eyes are to making her feel worried that someone else has bluer ones.  First the imaginary friend says, “They are the prettiest I’ve ever seen” (201), but then a few lines later she says, “Well, I am sure. Unless… Oh nothing. I was just thinking about a lady I saw yesterday. Her eyes sure were blue” (202). She also repeatedly brings up what Cholly did to Pecola: “How could somebody make you do something like that?…He made you didn’t he?” (198-199).  I think we can take this imaginary friend as a way for Pecola to maybe shed some of the conflicting thoughts she has about herself and about her father. By doing this, they are no longer her problematic thoughts but the teasings of a friend. It’s like she has split herself in two: herself and all the stuff she’d rather not think about. The end of this conversation, where Pecola’s imaginary friend says that she’s leaving for a while, is so sad to me, but I am not quite sure what to make of it. It’s so heartbreaking when Pecola keeps asking if the reason her friend is leaving is because her “eyes aren’t blue enough” (204). I am not quite sure why her imaginary friend decides to leave, and what this means concerning Pecola’s psyche. The title of this section implies that this is Pecola’s only friend, and now she doesn’t have anyone, not even really herself.


  1. I wouldn’t say that the ending of the novel is the only time that Pecola’s thoughts come into the forefront of the narrative. When she purchases candy from the store, when she talks to the prostitutes, and when she attempts to make her body disappear, it is Pecola’s perspective and thoughts that we view the world through. However, I do think you’re right in saying that a large majority of the novel is spent viewing Pecola through the eyes of others. Morrison calls Pecola a “narrative void” in her preface and so it’s interesting to see that the other characters in the story both lean on and support Pecola such that the story can be more fully developed. Pecola is too broken to fully sustain the weight of the story, it seems, and in choosing to avoid her own thoughts Morrison says just as much about Pecola’s mental fortitude as the actual breakdown at the end of the novel does.

  2. To me, Pecola’s splitting of herself reminded me of Frow’s description of Freud in the splitting of superego and id. To some extent, Pecola belittles her mother and how she was like a dead body while Cholly made weird noises as they had sex. The Id seems to be described when Pecola’s inner friend tells her if she enjoyed it, especially since it was not a one-time thing. The inner self, as you mention in your post, brings up “how could somebody make you do something like that?” acting as a superego that chastises Pecola. This splitting may be a defense mechanism to protect herself from trauma, but also may be an literal expression of Pecola’s conflicting desires and a sense of guilt to her mother, hence mother’s beating of Pecola after the incident, not the father.

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