The Bluest Eye' Rape Essay

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In the scene with Maureen, Pecola’s response is inertly passive, as compared to that of Claudia’s and Frieda’s, which shows they welcomed the “chance to show anger” (The Bluest Eye, 59). Although surprised at first by the meaning of Maureen’s declaration, they collected their pride and shouted back, “the most powerful of their arsenal of insults”. (The Bluest Eye, 61). Pecola, however, shrouded with shame “seemed to fold into herself, like a pleated wing” (61). Her gesture infuriates Claudia, who says –

“Her pain agonized me. I wanted to open her up, crisp her edges, ram a stick down that hunched and curving spine, force her to stand erect, and spit the misery out on the streets. But she held it where it could lap up into her eyes” (The Bluest Eyes, 61).

Similarly, when Geraldine throws Pecola out of her house,

“Pecola backed out of her room, outside, the March wind blew into the rip in her dress. She held her head down against the cold”(76).

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The most poignant illustration of Pecola’s failure to act occurs in the scene where she is raped by her father, Cholly. Pecola passes out and does not recognize what has happened to her. Her descent into madness occurs only when she unwittingly participates in Soaphead Church’s plan to kill old dog Bob by giving the animal poisoned meat. The death of the dog presents to Pecola something similar to a dreamscape that represents the rape through a distorted lens that blurs the clarity of the victim and victimizer. Being a victim himself, the dog becomes a symbolic substitute for Cholly. The dog’s death again represents Cholly’s orgasm. Before raping Pecola, Cholly approaches her “crawling on all fours” (162) and like the dog, which eats the meat before his spasm, Cholly nibbles on the back of Pecola’s leg. Pecola is in full consciousness of what is happening to the dog, unlike the moment when she was raped by Cholly-

“Choking, stumbling, he moved like a broken toy around the yard. The girl’s mouth was open, a little petal of tongue showing. She made a wild, pointless gesture with one hand and then covered her mouth with both hands. She was trying not to vomit. The dog fell again, a spasm jerking his body. Then he was quiet. The girl’s hands covering her mouth, she backed away a few feet, then turned, ran out of the yard and down the walk”. (The Bluest Eye, 176).

Pecola is easily made a victim- physically and psychologically, which ultimately leads to her escape into insanity. Throughout her life, she lacked the courage to “stand erect and spit the misery out on the street” (61). As Claudia states, she “held it in where it could lap into her eyes” (61). Pecola’s insanity finally makes her successful in escaping “folding into herself” and making herself disappear, as she once did by covering herself with a quilt while listening to her parents battle – “Please God…..Please make me disappear”. She squeezed her eyes shut. Little parts of her body faded away. Now slowly, now with a rush. Slowly again. Her fingers went, one by one; then her arms disappeared to the elbow. Her feet now…..the legs all at once. It was hardest above the thighs….Her stomach would not go. But finally it, too, went away. Then her chest, her neck. The face was hard, too……only her tight, tight eyes were left. They were always left” (The Bluest Eye, 39).

Morrison presents Pecola’s painful experience and sheds light on her physical, psychological, and sexual abuse and how she is robbed of her girlhood in her struggle for survival. Morrison, through the character of Pecola, protests against a gender system that designates a woman a secondary position, and against a social system that overlooks what befalls a poor black girl.

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