The Bluest Eye

Blue Eyes Symbol Analysis

Blue Eyes Symbol Icon
To the characters of The Bluest Eye, Blue eyes stand as the definitive symbol of whiteness and beauty. Characters who possess whiteness and beauty are privileged, empowered, and secure. This fact leads to Pecola's desires for blue eyes, as she believes blue eyes would change the way others see her, allowing her to transcend her horrible situation at home and in the community. Likewise, she thinks that blue eyes would give her the ability to perceive what she sees in a different way. Through the course of the novel, however, the symbolic nature of blue eyes changes. Pecola's attainment of blue eyes comes at the expense of her sanity, and only causes the community to "see" her in a more damaging way. In this sense, the "bluest" eye could also take on the association of blue with sadness and symbolize Pecola's sadness, defining her as the saddest character in the novel, or in a larger sense, the sad realities of racial self-hatred stemming from obsession with white beauty.

Blue Eyes Quotes in The Bluest Eye

The The Bluest Eye quotes below all refer to the symbol of Blue Eyes. 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 3 Quotes

It had occurred to Pecola some time ago that if her eyes, those eyes that held the pictures, and knew the sights—if those eyes of hers were different, that is to say, beautiful, she herself would be different.

Related Characters: Pecola Breedlove
Related Symbols: Blue Eyes
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

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.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing LoreLorem 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.

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other The Bluest Eye quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

He does not see her, because there is nothing to see. How can a fifty-two-year-old white immigrant storekeeper with the taste of potatoes and beer in his mouth, his mind honed on the Virgin Mary, his sensibilities blunted by a permanent awareness of loss, see a little black girl?

Related Characters: Pecola Breedlove
Related Symbols: Blue Eyes
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:

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.

To eat the candy is somehow to eat the eyes, eat Mary Jane. Love Mary Jane. Be Mary Jane.

Related Characters: Pecola Breedlove
Related Symbols: Blue Eyes
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

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.

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.

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:

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.

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.

Get the entire The Bluest Eye LitChart as a printable PDF.
The bluest eye.pdf.medium

Blue Eyes Symbol Timeline in The Bluest Eye

The timeline below shows where the symbol Blue Eyes appears in The Bluest Eye. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
...face disappear, but her tightly closed eyes remain. The narrator explains that Pecola believes possessing blue eyes would make her beautiful, and things would change at home and school. She has prayed... (full context)
Beauty vs. Ugliness Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
...because it has a reality and a presence. But when she thinks about Mr. Yacobowski's blue eyes again, the shame returns and stays until she remembers the Mary Janes. Each piece of... (full context)
Chapter 9
Beauty vs. Ugliness Theme Icon
Race and Racism Theme Icon
...asks Pecola what he can do for her, she asks if he can give her blue eyes . He tells Pecola that she must make an offering to nature. He goes into... (full context)
Chapter 11
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
...imaginary friend berates Pecola for compulsively looking into the mirror. Pecola believes she has received blue eyes , and cannot keep herself from looking at them. Pecola accuses her imaginary friend and... (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
...to pry about the rape, but Pecola changes the subject, focusing once again on her blue eyes . She reveals that she is still insecure about her eyes, that maybe they aren't... (full context)