The Bluest Eye: Novel Summary: Summer

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Summer

Summary
Claudia's narrative continues in the short concluding section, Summer, where she and Frieda heard neighborhood gossip over Pecola's pregnancy. They learned that Pecola's own father, Cholly, was the baby's father. The talk was that given the way Pecola's mother beat the girl, only a miracle can save the baby. Even if it lived it would certainly be ugly.
 
But Claudia, hearing these fragments of conversation about a baby that everyone wanted to die, wanted it to live, and she was sure that Frieda felt the same. They wanted the world to acknowledge a black baby as beautiful, just to counteract all the white dolls that were universally loved. It did not bother them that the baby had been fathered by Pecola's own father.
 
They decided they must do something to change events and allow the baby to live. They sacrificed the few dollars they made selling seeds and buried the money near Pecola's house, as an offering. They planted the marigold seeds in their backyard, too, believing that if the marigolds bloomed it would be a sign that the baby would live. This also meant giving up on the new bicycle they had been promised as a reward for selling the seeds.
 
The narrative then switches to Pecola's perspective. She is alone now. Claudia and Frieda do not play with her, and she no longer goes to school. It appears that after she started believing that she had blue eyes, she behaved strangely at school, and the school summoned her mother, who took her out of school.
 
Since Pecola is alone every day she invents an imaginary friend to whom she talks about her eyes, which she believes are now blue. She believes that the reason others look away from her when they see her is because they are jealous of her beautiful eyes. She thinks they are just pretending that they don't see them. Pecola also confides in her imaginary friend that she was the victim of incest on more than one occasion. She told her mother about the first incident, but her mother did not believe her, so the next time it happened, she did not mention it. Mrs. Breedlove no longer talks to her daughter. It also transpires that Cholly has left their home, so Pecola no longer has to fear his sexual advances.
 
The final section of the novel is narrated by Claudia in the present. She summarizes what happened to all the characters. After the baby was born prematurely and died, Pecola, as the reader has just seen in her conversation with her imaginary friend, went insane. She spent her time "walking up and down, up and down, her head jerking to the beat of a drummer so distant only she could hear." Claudia and Frieda were frightened of her and ignored her. They refused even to go near her.
 
Cholly Breedlove died in a workhouse, and Sammy Breedlove left town. Pauline Breedlove is still employed as a housekeeper for whites, while Claudia, alone, has been trying to understand what really happened to Pecola, who still lives with her mother in a little brown house. She realizes that everyone who knew Pecola used her to boost themselves. Despising what she was, or what they saw her to be, made them feel strong. They made themselves beautiful only by condemning her ugliness. The only ones who loved her were Maginot Line, the prostitute, and, in a way, Cholly. He at least saw Pecola's beauty and touched her. He loved her in a sense, although it was a fatal love. His love in effect killed her. Claudia now knows that she was wrong to see the lack of marigolds at the time of Pecola's pregnancy as a sign that the baby had no right to live. But she acknowledges that it is too late for such thoughts now.
 
Analysis
In this section the narrator returns for the first time to the events that were sketched in the second, italicized Prologue-the marigold seeds that were planted in the summer of 1941 by Claudia and Frieda. The narrative reveals the innocent good nature of Claudia and Frieda. They are too young to absorb the cynicism and hatred of the adults, and they feel a simple love for the unborn baby, although this is mixed with defiance. They are prepared to make a real sacrifice to enable it to live in order to affirm their own power. They are children pushed around in an adult world, and it is with "pity and pride" that they decide "to change the course of events and alter a human life" (p. 191). They have a nave faith that the seeds will grow and everything will be all right, but Claudia discovers that it is not so easy to change fate. How things turns out rests not only on what individuals want but on the entire culture and the norms and prejudices it possesses.
 
Nor can the world be different just because one little black girl longs for blue eyes. The fate suffered by Pecola is to be barely seen by her own mother in her own home. This recalls the episode in the candy store when Mr. Yacobowski looked right through her. Pecola, the weakest and most vulnerable character in the book, has finally become almost invisible. She is locked in her own world because she cannot possibly survive in the real world. Like a tender flower blown down in a storm, she has become the most pitiable example of the devastating effects of a racist society in which oppressed black people internalize the values of white culture and sink into self-hatred.

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