Thursday, September 20, 2012

Refuge in How

What Do You Think...
          Claudia states: There is really nothing more to say -- except why. But since why is difficult to
           handle, one must take refuge in how.
Does Morrison succeed in explaining how? Consider discussing the following people as you answer this question: Mrs. Breedlove, Cholly, and Soaphead Church.  Make sure you appropriately respond to at least three of your peers posts.

54 comments:

  1. I believe Morrison does an antiquate job of explaining how characters conduct themselves. Through out the story Morrison continuously takes the readers into the characters past to explain how they got were they are. For instance Morrison wrote about Cholly’s upbringing from being abandoned by his mother to meeting Mrs. Breedlove along with everything in between. Morrison lets the reader know how he has the ability to beat his wife by writing when he reminisce the night when he was caught with Darlene his rage increases he fights with Mrs. Breedlove and abuses her. Morrison writes his “Desire to cover her foot with his hand and gently nibble away itch from calf with his teeth. He did it…and startled Pauline into laughter. He did it now” describing how he could do such a thing to his daughter without a problem. In his mind it seems to be a natural situation something that should have happened before.

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    1. Christian ShaughnessySeptember 23, 2012 at 11:52 PM

      Andrea did you mean "adequate" in your first sentence? Because I'm not so sure Morrison was aiming for an ancient or aged interpretation of how her characters acted.

      Also what did you think of Soaphead Churche's role in the explaining of "how" here? Man was downright creepy and I wouldn't want him by my children for sure but he did play a role after all, even if it was nearly voyeuristic and patronizing on his part to befriend Pecola merely because he found her ugliness and youth intriguing to him.

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    2. Honestly Saphead Churche's part in the novel created the resolution to the story. He seem to be just as perverted as Cholly, but if we did not get to read his case we wouldn't have gotten Pecola thinking she had blue eyes. He ties the story together.

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    3. I believe Cholly was not a pervert, just a molester due to his drunkenness and the mix of emotion from his past life. He really did not have any family, his own father turned him down. He had no one to look up to as a Parental Figure. Cholly wanted to become some sort of figure to Pecola, he wanted to be different from his father but ironically turned out to be far worse than his father. He wanted to show some affection but because of him becoming drunk he did so the wrong way. That is my conclusion. I think.

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    4. Eventhugh the author did explain the how it all occured I amstill uneasy about the situation. So I agree with Andrea the author does an *adequate* job explaining the how because eventhough it does explain how it happened it still doesn't justify Cholly's actions. Cholly should have been a better father especially since he did not have a father, he should have known how a bad father figure impacted child's life.

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    5. Cholly's actions or "how" he did them were explained in vivid detail which accomplishes Morrison's goal, but at the same time they are not justified. Just because he had a corrupted childhood, he's allowed to corrupt his own daughter's? But we are only allowed to see into how and not why.

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    6. "Saphead Churche!" Whether that was unintentional or not, what a great nickname for him, Andrea! I also see what you did there in saying that Soaphead Church ties the story. Yes, he does because then we wouldn't have understood how Pecola somehow got her blue eyes and why she solely believes she HAS blue eyes.

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  2. As the story continues after this quote, the author allows the reader to recognize "how" Pecola's misfortunes occur. It is evident that Cholly Breedlove begin to lose his morals because even with Mrs. Breedlove "most times he's thrashing around inside [Mrs. Breedlove] before [she] woke" without a care, with the smell of liquor containing his body. The lack of care explains the lose of sanity, which allows one to understand the inappropriate actions of incest. Society also impacts the "how", by their actions and prejudice judgement. Though the reader may view Pecola with pity, she is just another cootie girl that if we had not fully understood her life we ourself would judge her as just a ugly black e-mo who seen her daddy naked. The judgement society places on Pecola discourages her from wanting to tell anyone, because who would believe her and who would want to help her when all anyone ever does is hurt her. Therefore her reach out to society is destroyed, because she has no motivation to do so.

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    1. Christian ShaughnessySeptember 24, 2012 at 12:08 AM

      "As the story continues after this quote"

      What quote Ms.Henry? Also your post doesn't say whether or not you think Morrison did an effective job explaining the "how".

      You also claim that "Though the reader may view Pecola with pity, she is just another cootie girl that if we had not fully understood her life we ourself would judge her as just a ugly black e-mo who seen her daddy naked".

      How exactly do you know this Ms.Sabrina? Why in the world would I holler at the top of my lungs that an African American classmate of mine was a "ugly black-emo" who had seen her daddy naked irrespective of her family's actual or imagined incest? Why are you so fast to assume that society is cruel enough to do this that you claim that "we" would do this too? Also are you saying that since this is the natural state of mankind apparently, that all one has to do to get people to stop making fun of you is to get them to "understand" your life? What does that even mean? Why wouldn't one just be nice because it's the morally correct thing to do instead of knowing it wouldn't make sense to tease because of purely utilitarian arguements( i.e. I can't make fun of you because I know your ugliness was caused by a traffic accident not so much because it's wrong to make fun of ugly people in general or?)?

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    2. Well Mr. Shaughnessy my reference toward the the black e-mo had not been a direct statement, but rather a hyperbole. I am sure that I myself had not even known what a "black e-mo" had even been, honestly I believe the children were calling her emo. It had been rather a reference to the story to illustrate how cruel children are, and often how cruel society is. You make a valid point about the being nice, I do not believe that one will not mock another because the "understand" ones life, I believe that people make fun of others no matter what because no one is perfect but when many had read the story atleast I understand on my behalf I felt pity for Pecola, but if I had not in fact known her I would just seen her as some ugly black girl who got pregnant for opening her legs, not even the fact that it was by her dad, not even the fact that she was raped, and not even the fact of who she truly is because I do not know her.

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    3. Also, the quote in which I had been referring to dear sir had been "There is really nothing more to say -- except why. But since why is difficult handle, one must take refuge in how."

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    4. I can see where you are coming from, however, I disagree with your viewpoint that his loss of morale was a sign of his loss of sanity. Because if you think about it, not all insane people lose their morality and not all sane people are moral. It can go both ways. Furthermore, how did society affect the how of Mrs. Breedlove? If you think about it, Mrs. Breedlove could have been the same careless mother, filled with hatred even if she was not living in a prejudice society. Don't you think?

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    5. Mr. Shaughnessy I would just like to leave a side comment on how you mentioned "Why are you so fast to assume that society is cruel enough to do this that you claim that "we" would do this too?" I believe Sabina did not mention anything about society TODAY, because we do have to understand the time period the story was written in and realize THEIR society, and how it would affect a person during that time period.

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  3. Christian ShaughnessySeptember 23, 2012 at 11:43 PM

    I think Morrison did a fantastic job of illustrating the lead up to and the moment of Pecola's martyrdom, which is what The Bluest Eye is all about in it's purest form. After all, even from the beginning of the story one is shown that the incestrape of Pecola (and the death of her child) is what the story eventually leads to, thus from there on one is already constantly expecting an expounding upon of the circumstances that lead to this depravity.

    Morrison does this effectively by portraying the society that Pecola and the Breedloves lived in from their eyes. Not a *white society* viewpoint or *middle class* viewpoint as Morrison would no doubt call it herself but a "people's viewpoint", one from the ground up as opposed from the top-down in society. We read of the economic inequities that stress an already beleaguered minority in even ordinary financial times let alone a Great Depression and the injustices of a pre Steve Biko "Black is Beautiful" culture where "Black" people are actively made to feel ugly. In specificity we read of how Cholly's deviant sexual and psychological behavior was brought about by 2 white men watching him have sex with his first sexual partner. Mrs.Breedlove is seen physically fighting her deadbeat husband for no other reason then feeling righteous and high and mighty. The Anglophillic and bordering on pedophillic Soaphead Church is hilariously (considering his own horrendous cirumstances) disgusted by Pecola at first as well.

    These examples of the Breedlove's lives and the people around the spheres of the Breedlove's lives are there to fully establish just how completely different the discordant universe Morrison creates is from our own "white" "better" universe. Indeed, Morrison succeeds at this so well that as one reads the ending one feels personally responsible for Pecola's fate despite , well , having absolutely nothing to do with it. One couldn't possibly say Morrison didn't elaborate enough in the Bluest Eye and be serious. I actually have my own acid test for this myself;if one at any time ever felt any tinge of pity or empathy come about while reading this novel, then Morrison succeeded in explaining the "how" mentioned by Claudia.

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    1. How would empathy be the signal for knowing that Morrison did a good job in explaining how? And even though i understand what you are talking about, I do not quite see how a societal viewpoint explains how things happened. Could you please elaborate more on what you meant. Also, in your first paragraph you argue that Morrison introduces the pivital point of the novel which is what it leads up to, how does this introduction contribute to the how of the story?

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  4. In my opinion, Toni Morrison definitely succeeds in explaining the "how" of "The Bluest Eye" especially when she takes an omniscient point of view to describe the characters past. However, the "how" still does not answer the "why" characters made such actions that completely destroyed Pecola. Considering Mrs. Breedlove, it is ironic that she can be the "ultimate nanny" for a family that she works for but yet her family is destroyed. Mrs. Breedlove's childhood was not harsh though she allowed her children to see physical abuse and most of all she did not accept the fact that Cholly had raped her daughter. Surprisingly, at the end of the story Mrs. Breedlove still wished that Cholly was there, she still wanted the beats and the arguing. What about Pecola? Pecola is not in her picture, she was never in her picture. Pecola is left to suffer on her own.

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    1. I argue with your point of surprising it she feels such sadness now that Cholly is gone, but she doesn't seem to be effected by Pecoal having a mental break down. I kept thinking how that her mother should have cared about how the tragic events affected Pecola, not be sad about Chooly being gone.

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    2. What exactly do you mean when you say that Pecola was never in her picture? Technically she was at one point because Mrs. Breedlove does acknowledge that she is there, she just stops noticing hr, per say, after Pecola breaks down. However, I do agree with what you say about the irony in Mrs. Breedlove being a nanny because how is it that she will provide love and affection for another kid that is not her own when she cannot even provide that for her family? You are totally right, it is ironic.

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    3. I really like how you took the point of view into consideration, I had not thought to look into that as a factor of the authors explanation of "how". I also understand what you mean by Pecola never being in the picture, Pecola was never really the main image of the Mrs.Breedloves picture of life.

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    4. I understand what you are saying, and yes Mrs. Breedlove did want Cholly to continue to be in the picture. But in a sense I believe Mrs. Breedlove did care for Pecola atleast a little because eventhough she did not believe her she knew it did happen because after the rape scene it does mention that Mrs. Breedlove would be crying over her. Mrs. Breedlove wanted to love her children but they took all her spotlight away.

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  5. In the end I believe that the "How" is somewhat answered. Soaphead was a pervert who helped people. When Pecola came to him for blue eyes he was overwhelmed by the request, but still accepted it. Giving her false beliefs that she now has blue eyes is able to shape her character even more. Here he is able to give Pecola relief for ending her sadness. Her mother could not help her because she was to stuck on helping herself love herself, a kitchen that does not belong to her and a family that shes not related to. All while Pecola is left to deal with all her own problems. This is why Pecola has been in her own reality.

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    1. What exactly do you mean by Pecola is in her own reality? I found it peculiar that the mother lives a double life, almost to keep her sanity and happiness. Though one often has their "sanctuary", Mrs. Breedlove exposes that she can be a caring mother but chooses not to with Pecola. Mrs. Breedlove develops an alter ego "Polly", so could it be that Pecola, lost in her madness, has created her alter ego to live happily? To live the life she is unable to obtain?

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    2. Miguel when you say "her own reality" do you mean throughout the entire novel? I see it as she creates her own reality at the resolution of the story. She creates this friend to be accepted and shun society out just it has done to her.

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    3. I disagree Pecola did not create her own reality because at the end of the novel she thought she had blue eyes but yet no one wanted to talk to her. If she were to create her own reality I would think she would like to have someone to share it with not just an imaginary friend.

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    4. I think what Miguel meant to say by the 'reality' comment was that Pecola lived in her old world with her 'imaginary friend'. However, we must take into consideration that she is not aware this friend is a figment of her imagination. Everything written within the final casement is what Pecola deems as her reality due to the madness that has overcome her, but this is understandable due to all she has been through.

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    5. Christian ShaughnessySeptember 28, 2012 at 11:59 PM

      So Miguel, you would say that characterization (particularly of Soaphead Church) is Morrison's elaboration of "how" in the Bluest Eye? I always did feel that from a writer's perspective that Soaphead Church was at worst a tool to explain Pecola's finally "getting" eyes after all

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  6. I completely believe that Morrison did an outstanding job of explaining how everything happened. As she mentioned in the beginning, why was too hard to handle, therefore she did not explain why everything happened, like the exact motives. However she does manage to explain the background of each of the characters to explain how they got to be the way they were.
    For example, with Mrs. Breedlove, Morrison was able to explain how she came to be the cold- hearted, hatred-filled mother she was. Morrison described in depth the events that happened earlier in her life to describe how Mrs. Breedlove became so angry with Cholly and how she stopped loving her children.
    Morrison does the same when speaking about Cholly. She gives details of his birth and early childhood to describe what happened that led to Cholly becoming a drunk. She also describes how the idea of raping his daughter occured to him. She does not say specifically why he does it, but just how he gets there.
    The same happens with the description of Soaphead Church. Morrison includes how he came to be and how he got his nickname of Soaphead. She also explains how it got to Pecola asking him for blue eyes and how he made her believe that she actually had them; through an animal sacrifice. It also helps the reader understand how Pecola seems to have obtained blue eyes and how Soaphead plays a role into that. Because if the reader would just skip to the end and not read the casement about Soaphead, they would not understand why Pecola mentioned that thanks to Soaphead she got her blue eyes. Morrison does a great job of explaining how everything happened, especially with her manipulation of time. It gives a when to the how.

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    1. I agree with you completely. I can really say anything because you basically said it all.

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  7. Morrison did succeed in explaining "how" throughout the novel. Pecola's misfortunes were thoroughly explained through the stories of those around her. Through the explanation of Mrs.Breedlove, and her character, the author gives the reader more inisght into the character that is Mrs. Breedlove. Once the reader fully understands the background information that was given about Mrs. Breedlove, him or her is able to make the connection between Mrs. Breedloves life and the treatment that she shows her daughter, as well as those around her. The same goes for the other characters, Mr. Breedlove and Soaphead Church, the reader is only able to understand the full of extent of Pecola's misfortunes through the explanation/descriptions of these characters and "how" they impact her.

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    1. I agree the explanation of these characters do allow for a better understanding of “how” they impacted Pecola the way they did. Without it I believe the reader would be unable to make a clear judgment of the characters and misfortunate situations that Pecola faces.

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    2. I agree, Vanessa. It almost feels like the author barely explained Pecola's life at all. Instead, she let the lives of Pauline, Cholly, Soaphead, Geraldine, and Claudia narrate Pecola's life. Pecola's life is very seldom the focus of the story; she is merely featured in part of someone else's.

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    3. I also agree with what you are stating Vanessa, the story itself is centered on the 'how', and have impacted how Pecola is now. If it were not for those stories around her there would not be an explanation of why pecola turned out the way she did.

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  8. In the beginning of the author states "why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how" (Morrison1)already setting a standard for the reader to understand and follow. Although Morrison does a great job explaining the how certain things happened the way they did, the uprising still do not justify them from happening.

    For instance the author uses the character Soaphead Church to help the reader realize the connecting points to why Pecola believes she has blue eyes. She uses Cholly and in a way the author causes a sense in which you almost fee "sorry" for him; eventhough, he did have an awful past he had no right to do what he did to Pecola. In an overall sense the author does an amazing job explaining the how because the why is too much emotional distress.

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    1. I agree with you towards your two scenarios on Cholly and Soaphead, but by revealing 'how' wouldn't the reader still be consumed with their thoughts of 'why' the incidents involving Pecola occurred?

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  9. Morrison states, "one must take refuge on how" rather then the why. In the exposition the narrator already states the what. Throughout the rest of the story she shows how these events lead to Pecolas madness. For instance Morrison uses the scenes and characters of Cholly and Soaphead Churche to show how the events of these physical abuses left her both mentally and emotionaly scared.

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    1. I completely agree with you on this. I found it interesting that Morrison used how instead of why like most authors. It's more effective in my opinion it makes the readers think.

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    2. Yes I find it unique that Morrison takes this approach. Instead of the reader put pieces together like a puzzle to come to a conclusion she has them think of all possible motives and possible reasons for the "what" to happen.

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  10. Morrison wants his audience to take refuge on how because he doesn't explain the why. In beginning of the novel Claudia the narrator give the audience the what/who. Throughout the novel Morrison put obstacles in Pecola's life that eventually lead to Pecola's madness. For example Morrison uses characters like Mrs.Breedlove and Soaphead Church to show how their actions towards Pecola left her emotionally and psychologically scared.

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    1. Well said Jose the entire novel is centered around the how. It shows the importance of the path it took rather then getting from point a to b. Rather then having the reader jus remembering that Pecola went mad they remember Cholly the prostitutes and many other characters andtheir actions..

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    2. The how as you had said is the only thing Morrison can explain. The why can be “difficult to handle” because each reader may have their own opinion as to why people do such things, for example Cholly. Pecola’s mental breakdown explanation is important to the novel and Morrison does succeed in using these primary characters as his source of answer.

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  11. Morrison is successful in explaining 'how'. For example, through the introduction of Soaphead Church, Morrison explains just how he gave Pecola her 'blue eyes'. If anything, Morrison was able to convey Pecola's final breaking point when she received her beloved eyes from this man. Rather than thinking of every traumatic event Pecola was forced to live through, the reader would examine this event which led to her 'happiness', as well as her madness. Morrison allows the reader to take refugee in such scenarios simply because the truth is hard to handle.

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    1. But wouldn't how be explained in the events leading to her true happiness? But I agree with you.Her breaking point was quite significant on how.

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    2. It is interesting that you mentioned the focus on Pecola's traumatic experiences. The reader is aware of what comes next for Pecola and keeps in mind all of the past experiences Pecola had to live through. It usually does not mean something pleasant. Once Pecola is seen as happy it almost comes as a shock because of how she was perceived before. There were not many positive outcomes for Pecola.

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  12. Morrison does succeed in explaining the how. She unfolds a series of events and casements that eventually explains the "why" over a period of time. Throughout the story, readers learn about the history of those who inflicted pain onto Pecola. Morrison takes her readers into examining how Mrs. Breedlove and Cholly both turned out to be the way that they are. She did this particularly to show readers that although Pecola's parents appear to be inhuman, abusing her physically and emotionally, they ARE still human because of their own past experiences. Through their own histories, readers have to sympathize with Mrs. Breedlove and Cholly. It is over a period of time—the how—that leads readers to understand the "why."

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    1. I agree the series of casements do give an explanation of the how to the novel. Although the how is given, I do not believe the why is truly explained by Morrison. The why in my opinion is based on your own thoughts of the characters and their past is used as a reference.

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    2. I agree with you when you explain how Morrison exposes the reader to Cholly and Mrs. Breedlove's past in order to allow the said reader to sypmpathize with them. In your own opinion do you feel sorry for them or do you simply deem their actions as unforgivable?

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    3. I believe it was the author's intention that the readers understand why Mrs. Breedlove and Cholly were the way they were. She did this so as to make readers neither hate them very much nor like them very much because she wanted readers to see that they were being human. Through their past, it caused them to be the way that were.

      In a sense, Emilia, I do feel sorry for them because of their past, but their actions are, at the same time, unforgivable.

      And I'm going to draw the silver lining here: things might never have turned out the way it had if they (Mrs. Breedlove and Cholly) would have just stopped to contemplate whether or not their actions were justifiable, if they would have admitted to themselves and to each other their humiliations, their true feelings. But keeping all of that bottled, it became a passive aggression that set the pathway to their family's own destruction and eventually Pecola's fate--her insanity.

      But it is also understandable why they did not do this. They may have never been exposed to new perspectives such as this with the story being set in the time it was in.

      Daniela, I see where you're coming from with the references. I suppose you could also say the reader must make their own speculations about the why part.

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  13. I believe Morrison achieves explaining the how part of each character. As Claudia mentions the “why is difficult to handle” (Morrison 3) she refers to the reason Cholly, Mrs. Breedlove and Soaphead Church contribute to Pecola’s mental breakdown. The ‘how’ is accepted by the reader because there is reasoning to the events that led to where the characters end. Mrs. Breedlove’s depressing previous life causes her to lack love and care for her family because she sees them as a burden. Though a mother is supposed to love her children and protect them, Polly does quite the opposite she becomes the heartless mother. Cholly’s alcoholic problem results in his action of raping his own daughter and showing no sympathy for her. The character of Soaphead Church is essential to the novel because he ties the lose ideas and answers the reader ‘how does Pecola end up believing she has blue eyes?’

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    1. I agree that Cholly, Pauline, and Soaphead's casements contribute to the 'how' of Pecola's mental breakdown. However, I believe that Morrison does more than simply explain how the three characters contribute to Pecola's downfall. The author also explains how the characters came to be the way they are now, making is much easier for the reader to understand 'why' they treated Pecola the way they did and 'why' Pecola turned out to be so unstable.

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  14. Morrison does succeed explaining 'how'. It never clearly explains the 'why's, but the 'how's' allow the reader to understand the 'why' themselves. All of the individual characterization-like sections of the story are used to explain the 'how' of Pecola's insanity. Morrison even explains how each character and event-- Mrs. Breedlove's neglect, Cholly Breedlove's agression, Soaphead's "infallibility", Geraldine's anger-- came to be, and each of these characters and events contribute to the 'how' of Pecola's condition in the conclusion of the novel.

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    1. I agree with your claim and truthfully, like how your assertion is straight forward. Although, you can change "insanity" into a more "suitable word" such as mad or delusional and explain how each character, Mrs. Breedlove, Cholly, Soaphead, and Geraldine, had contributred to the "how" of Pecola's condition.

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  15. I feel as though quote is saying it is not simply enough to know why someone does something, but how they could justify themselves in doing it. In my opinion Morrison does a superb job of explaining this "how". A good example would be Cholly, Pecola's father. If the reader did not have the insight the author gave about Cholly's past, we wouldn't have found his actions even imaginable from his point of view as her father. Rape is not something that would come naturally for a father to think toward their daughter. Morrison's explanation of how is explaining Cholly's past with sex and how it has affected him, changing his thoughts, and no longer allowing him to see that violating his daughter is the disturbing and inhumane act it is. It is only through our understanding of Cholly's past that this sad event is conceivable in our minds.

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  16. In the case of Cholly Breedlove, Morrison captured the different sick and vial actions Cholly has committed. Morrison was able to explain the how by providing the reader with insight of his background. The reader can feel sympathy for his past but his actions afterwards effect the perception of the readers have on him. There was no family structure at home and he was not able to learn from a father figure it growing up. The people he loved left him, left his life and had him live on his own judgment and this provided the story a with deeper connection than one may think. Cholly may be the enemy but not all his life has been bad. This causes the reader to question what type of character Cholly would be considered. Morrison greatly gave reasons to why Cholly may act the way he acts, and it needs to be considered when determining the way Cholly is percieved as a person.

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  17. Morrison does succeed in explaining the "how" of the novel. Although she does not clearly states the "why" of the novel, she later explains the how through the backgrounds of each characters, Pecola Breedlove, Pauline Breedlove, Cholly Breedlove, and Soaphead Church. Throughout the story, Pecola is the protagonist portrayed as the archetype Jesus, the one who carries the burdens of others. The author vividly explains the "how" of this archetype, varying from HOW she got raped, to HOW she gained blue eyes, then to HOW she became delusion. Thus, there was no explanation as to WHY because it was self-explanatory through these hows. Moreover, the author took the time, more as a whole chapter on Mrs. Breedlove, Cholly, and Soaphead, for the purpose of HOW these characters became who they are, and as to HOW their childhood or experience had an impact on Pecola. Again, there is no explanation as to why but the HOWs are the explanatory. For instance, when Mrs. Breedlove had wished for a life of whites, she slapped symbolically slapped all her "ruined" and hatred life onto the poor Pecola. This is explain how Pecola is somehow burden because of Mrs. Breedlove, but does not explain why, Mrs. Breedlove would burden her own daughter.

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