The Internal Conflict of Pecola Breedlove on her Appearance in the Novel the Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

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Within oneself, one might experience mental struggle resulting from opposing needs, drives, or wishes. In other words, they may undergo an internal conflict. In the novel, “The Bluest Eye”, by Toni Morrison, Pecola Breedlove, an important character within the story, faces an internal conflict that revolves around her appearance. Moreover, her curiosity is captured by society’s standard of beauty, which she believes to be light skinned, haired, and eyed people. Being a dark-skinned African American, she just didn’t fit the bill. As a result, she tends to struggle with accepting not only herself, but her appearance as well.

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Primarily, throughout the novel, Pecola is fascinated by Shirley Temple and her “perfect” appearance. As seen on pg 23, “we knew she was fond of the Shirley Temple cup and took every opportunity to drink milk out of it just to handle and see sweet Shirley’s face.” With time, this captivation would grow, as she would begin to pray for blue eyes. She believed that with blue eyes, she would be different. Her view of herself is similar to that of a person who is young and insecure. Furthermore, Pecola believes that if she could change her appearance to fit society’s standard of beauty, her life would be different. Instead of accepting herself for what she is, Pecola utilizes her time in advisedly and focuses on irrational desires that she cannot have. But why does Pecola have these desires?

Companionship. Humans have always and will forever seek a permanent or temporary companion. Pecola’s want to be beautiful could stem from her inclination to be wanted by someone emotionally, but not physically per se because she is still young. Moreover, because she was raised in an unstable family, she seeks the affection she rarely received from her parents. In addition, she is sent off to stay with the MacTeers, which only deepens her feeling of self-loathing for not being wanted. Morrison’s portrayal of Pecola foreshadows actions that she may take in order to receive this feeling. With somewhat suspicious male figures around, such as Mr. Henry, it can be foreseen that she may be taken advantage of by one of them. If this were to happen, it would result in an external conflict that would have a drastic effect on her life and the plot. Taking these factors into account, it can be inferred that Morrison intended to foreshadow such an event.

In conclusion, Morrison brings the character’s emotions into play in order to further develop the plot. By creating conflict, external or internal, and using numerous literary devices, Morrison adds “flavor” to the novel. As a result, it makes for a more well-rounded, interesting read.

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The Internal Conflict of Pecola Breedlove on Her Appearance in the Novel The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. (2022, Dec 07). Retrieved February 3, 2023 , from

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