The Bluest Eye

Claudia MacTeer Character Analysis

The narrator of parts of the novel, Claudia is a strong-willed and passionate nine-year-old black girl. Still young, Claudia has not experienced overt racism and violence to the extent many of the novel's other characters have. Still largely undamaged, she is compassionate toward Pecola, and rebels against the black community's worship of white beauty.

Claudia MacTeer Quotes in The Bluest Eye

The The Bluest Eye quotes below are all either spoken by Claudia MacTeer or refer to Claudia MacTeer. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Bluest Eye published in 2007.
Prologue Section 2 Quotes

Quiet as it's kept, there were no marigolds in the fall of 1941. We thought, at the time, that it was because Pecola was having her father's baby that the marigolds did not grow. A little examination and much less melancholy would have proved to us that our seeds were not the only ones that didn't sprout; nobody's did…It had never occurred to either of us that the earth itself might have been unyielding. We had dropped our seeds in our own little plot of black dirt just as Pecola's father had dropped his seeds into his own plot of black dirt. Our innocence and faith were no more productive than his lust or despair.

Related Characters: Claudia MacTeer (speaker), Pecola Breedlove, Cholly Breedlove
Related Symbols: Marigolds
Page Number: 3-4
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 1 Quotes

Knowing that there was such a thing as outdoors bred in us a hunger for property, for ownership. The firm possession of a yard, a porch, a grape arbor. Propertied black people spent all their energies, all their love, on their nests.

Related Characters: Claudia MacTeer (speaker)
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

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Cholly Breedlove, then, a renting black, having put his family outdoors, had catapulted himself beyond the reaches of human consideration. He had joined the animals; was indeed, an old dog, a snake, a ratty nigger.

Related Characters: Claudia MacTeer (speaker), Cholly Breedlove
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

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When I learned how repulsive this disinterested violence was, that it was repulsive because it was disinterested, my shame floundered about for refuge. The best hiding place was love. Thus the conversion from pristine sadism to fabricated hatred, to fraudulent love. It was a small step to Shirley Temple.

Related Characters: Claudia MacTeer (speaker)
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4 Quotes

We were lesser. Nicer, brighter, but still lesser…what was the secret? What did we lack? Why was it important? And so what? Guileless and without vanity, we were still in love with ourselves then. We felt comfortable in our skins, enjoyed the news that our senses released to us, admired our dirt, cultivated our scars, and could not comprehend this unworthiness.

Related Characters: Claudia MacTeer (speaker)
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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Mrs. Breedlove's skin glowed like taffeta in the reflection of white porcelain, white woodwork, polished cabinets, and brilliant copperware.

Related Characters: Claudia MacTeer (speaker), Pauline Breedlove
Page Number: 105
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 10 Quotes

I thought of the baby that everybody wanted dead, and saw it very clearly. It was in a dark, wet place, its head covered with great O's of wool, the black face holding, like nickels, two clean black eyes…no synthetic yellow bangs suspended over marble-blue eyes, no pinched nose and bowline mouth. More strongly than my fondness for Pecola, I felt a need for someone to want the black baby to live—just to counteract the universal love of baby dolls, Shirley Temples, and Maureen Peals.

Related Characters: Claudia MacTeer (speaker), Pecola Breedlove, Maureen Peal
Related Symbols: Blue Eyes
Page Number: 188
Explanation and Analysis:

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We had defended ourselves since memory against everything and everybody considered all speech a code to be broken by us, and all gestures subject to careful analysis; we had become headstrong, devious, and arrogant. Nobody paid us any attention, so we paid very good attention to ourselves. Our limitations were not known to us—not then.

Related Characters: Claudia MacTeer (speaker)
Page Number: 189
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 11 Quotes

The birdlike gestures are worn away to a mere picking and plucking her way between the tire rims and the sunflowers, between Coke bottles and milkweed, among all the waste and beauty of the world—which is what she herself was. All of our waste which we dumped on her and which she absorbed. And all of our beauty, which was hers first and which she gave to us.

Related Characters: Claudia MacTeer (speaker), Pecola Breedlove
Page Number: 203
Explanation and Analysis:

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Love is never any better than the lover. Wicked people love wickedly, violent people love violently, weak people love weakly, stupid people love stupidly, but the love of a free man is never safe. There is no gift for the beloved. The lover alone possesses his gift of love. The loved one is shorn, neutralized, frozen in the glare of the lover's inward eye.

Related Characters: Claudia MacTeer (speaker)
Page Number: 204
Explanation and Analysis:

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It was the fault of the earth, the land, of our town. I even think now that the land of the entire country was hostile to the marigolds that year. This soil is bad for certain kinds of flowers. Certain seeds it will not nurture, certain fruit it will not bear, and when the land kills of its own volition, we acquiesce and say the victim had no right to live.

Related Characters: Claudia MacTeer (speaker)
Related Symbols: Marigolds
Page Number: 204
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Claudia MacTeer Character Timeline in The Bluest Eye

The timeline below shows where the character Claudia MacTeer appears in The Bluest Eye. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue Section 2
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An unnamed narrator (later revealed to be Claudia) explains that no marigolds bloomed in 1941. At that time, the narrator and her sister... (full context)
Chapter 1
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Claudia and Frieda stand outside of a Greek hotel, watching their neighbor Rosemary Villanucci eat bread... (full context)
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School has just started for Claudia and Frieda. In the evening, grown-ups take them to Zick's Coal Company to collect coal... (full context)
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One day, after a trip to collect coal for the house, Claudia gets a cold. Claudia's mother, Mrs. MacTeer, scolds her for not wearing something on her... (full context)
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A new boarder named Mr. Henry comes to stay with the MacTeers. Before he arrives, Claudia and Frieda listen to their mother gossip with her friends about Miss Delia, the woman... (full context)
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...but pointed out by their mother along with the furniture and rooms of the house. Claudia and Frieda are surprised when Mr. Henry speaks to them. "You must be Greta Garbo,... (full context)
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...The county places Pecola with the MacTeers because her father, Cholly, burned their house down. Claudia explains that Cholly put the family "outdoors", which is different than being homeless and seen... (full context)
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One Saturday afternoon, Pecola, Frieda, and Claudia are outside on the house's stoop trying to avoid Mrs. MacTeer who is upset because... (full context)
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That night in bed, Claudia and Frieda are full of awe and respect for Pecola. Pecola asks Frieda if her... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Claudia explains that winter has arrived and her father's appearance and demeanor has changed. His features... (full context)
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Claudia and Frieda persist in boredom, waiting for spring to come, but then the monotony of... (full context)
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Claudia and Frieda are "bemused, irritated and fascinated" by Maureen Peal. Her expensive clothing and plentiful... (full context)
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Maureen is assigned the locker next to Claudia's. Claudia knows she is about to become friends with Maureen, but knows it will be... (full context)
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...of the boys in the head with a book. When the boy fails to retaliate, Claudia wonders if the boy stops because Claudia is taller than him, because of the look... (full context)
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Maureen offers to buy Pecola an ice cream at Isaley's. As they walk, Claudia thinks about what flavor she will get, expecting Maureen to buy her an ice cream... (full context)
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...the girls if they love Betty Grable as much as she does. Pecola agrees, but Claudia says that Hedy Lemarr is better. Maureen agrees with Claudia, and tells them about a... (full context)
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...sensing something strange about the way Pecola brought her father into the conversation. Frieda and Claudia tell Maureen to end the conversation, and Claudia remembers seeing her father naked. She feels... (full context)
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...continues pushing the issue. "What do I care about her old black daddy?" she says. Claudia responds by asking whom she is calling black. When Maureen says "you", Claudia yells, "You... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Claudia associates the arrival of spring with the changing nature of the beatings she receives with... (full context)
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After an afternoon of relaxing in a field, splitting milkweed stems, Claudia heads home. When she enters the house, she finds her mother acting strangely. Mrs. MacTeer... (full context)
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When her mother finishes, Claudia goes to look for Frieda. She finds her upstairs in bed, crying. Claudia asks her... (full context)
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Claudia continues prying for information about the incident. She asks if Frieda just sat there and... (full context)
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Claudia asks Frieda if their mother whipped her after the incident. When Frieda tells her that... (full context)
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...happen to Frieda. When The Maginot Line asks if the girls are looking for someone, Claudia explains they are looking for Pecola. The Maginot Line tells them Pecola is at her... (full context)
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Claudia and Frieda find Pecola sitting on the stoop in front of a beautiful white house.... (full context)
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...the family's little white girl walks into the room. When she sees Pecola, Frieda and Claudia, a look of fear dances across her face. After a moment, the little girl asks... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Summer arrives and brings storms that both frighten and please Claudia. She imagines her mother in the summer of 1929 when a tornado hit Loraine and... (full context)
Claudia and Frieda feel ashamed and embarrassed for Pecola. Nobody in the community seems to share... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Claudia then begins to narrate the story. She describes Pecola's insanity and the way the community... (full context)
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Claudia believes that the Maginot Line and Cholly loved Pecola, but love is only as good... (full context)