The Bluest Eye

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Soaphead Church Character Analysis

A light skinned West Indian man, Soaphead Church is a self-proclaimed misanthrope. After failing as a preacher, he deems himself a "Reader, Adviser, and Interpreter of Dreams", and provides counsel to community members. He detests the human body, believing the human body is dirty, and only desires to touch the bodies of children, which he considers clean.

Soaphead Church Quotes in The Bluest Eye

The The Bluest Eye quotes below are all either spoken by Soaphead Church or refer to Soaphead Church. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Beauty vs. Ugliness Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of The Bluest Eye published in 2007.
Chapter 6 Quotes

"He…picked at me."
"Picked at you? You mean like Soaphead Church?"
"Sort of."
"He showed his privates to you?"
"Noooo. He touched me."
"Where?"
"Here and here." She pointed to her tiny breasts that, like two fallen acorns, scattered a few faded rose leaves on her dress.
"Really? How did it feel?"
"Oh, Claudia." She Sounded put-out. I wasn't asking the right questions.
"It didn't feel like anything."
"But wasn't it supposed to? Feel good, I mean."

Related Characters: Claudia MacTeer (speaker), Frieda MacTeer (speaker), Henry Washington, Soaphead Church
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

Claudia has come home to find Frieda crying in her bedroom; Frieda explains that their father has beaten up Mr. Henry because Mr. Henry groped her. Once again, the children use metaphorical language to discuss sexual acts, leaving Claudia confused about what Mr. Henry did and how it made Frieda feel. Claudia does seem to have some level of awareness about child molestation, based on the fact that she compares Mr. Henry's behavior to Soaphead Church, a known pedophile who exposes himself to young girls in the neighborhood. On the other hand, Claudia's misunderstanding is revealed by the fact that she asks Frieda if she liked it, thereby implying that Claudia is confused over the distinction between consensual sex and child abuse. 

Taken in the wider context of the novel, this confusion appears rather understandable. The sexual experiences of most of the female characters in The Bluest Eye are imbued with force and violence, and young girls are taught almost nothing about the reality of sex, relationships, and pregnancy. It is thus not surprising that Claudia does not expect sex to be consensual, and does not link pleasure to consent. Her naïveté is shown to further harm Frieda, who is hurt by her sister's misguided questioning. 

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Soaphead Church Character Timeline in The Bluest Eye

The timeline below shows where the character Soaphead Church appears in The Bluest Eye. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 9
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
Sex and Sexuality Theme Icon
An unnamed narrator introduces Soaphead Church, a self proclaimed "misanthrope", who hates people and find's the human body ugly and... (full context)
Women and Femininity Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
Sex and Sexuality Theme Icon
Soaphead Church is a cinnamon-eyed West Indian man with light brown skin. His family is proud... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
Soaphead Church was born as Elihue Micah Whitcomb, the son of a schoolmaster and a half-Chinese... (full context)
Women and Femininity Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
Sex and Sexuality Theme Icon
At seventeen, Soaphead Church meets a woman named Velma, and marries. She is drawn to his meticulous habits... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Soaphead Church moves in with a woman named Bertha Reese. He doesn't mind living with her... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Soaphead Church begins counseling community members who come to him for advice. They bring their maladies,... (full context)
Beauty vs. Ugliness Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
One day Pecola knocks on Soaphead's door. She comes into his house, holding her hands over her pregnant stomach. When he... (full context)
Beauty vs. Ugliness Theme Icon
Women and Femininity Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
Sex and Sexuality Theme Icon
After Pecola runs away, Soaphead Church sits down at his night table and writes a letter to God. In his... (full context)