Spring: See the dog... Notes from The Bluest Eye

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The Bluest Eye Spring: See the dog...

See the dog . . .

There is an excerpt from a first grade reading book. It describes the little girl, Jane, playing with her dog. They run and play together and have fun. This dog contrasts the dog about to be described in this section.

A man by the name of Elihue Micah Whitcomb (Soaphead Church) is described. He comes from a racially-mixed family background. His father was part white and part black and his mother was half-Chinese. His mother died shortly after childbirth, and so he was raised primarily by his father, a strict schoolmaster. Elihue grew up well educated, something that was stressed in his family, both immediate and extended. His ancestors always thought that if one was educated, then they were a step closer to being white, and a step farther away from their African roots.

Topic Tracking: Self-Hatred 8

He went through a series of jobs, before settling into a permanent career. He was a priest, a caseworker, and then finally became a "Reader, Advisor, and Interpreter of Dreams." Elihue was the kind of person that detested humanity. He literally did not like people, nor did he like to be around them. He was repulsed by the markings that stood for being alive and human, such as scars, cuts, pimples, eye crust, and moles. And because of this, he became obsessed with things, inanimate objects that lacked the dirtiness and squalor of the human condition, but still withheld some aspect of having once been owned and worn in by a human, such as a broken in door mat where he once lived, or a coffee pot that had been his mother's. He tried marriage, but could not put himself out enough to sustain it. Along with his hatred of people, he also hates dogs, especially the mangy old dog of the woman with whom he lives. He even buys poison and toys with the idea of killing the dog himself.

People came to visit Soaphead seeking three main things: love, health, and money. One hot, lazy afternoon, Pecola visits Soaphead. When he sees her, he thinks she is very unattractive. She asks him if he can give her blue eyes. He wishes he could fulfill her request but knows he cannot. He feels sympathy for Pecola, but at the same time, anger, for she reminds him of his true powerlessness.

"Here was an ugly little girl asking for beauty. A surge of love and understanding swept through him, but was quickly replaced by anger. Anger that he was powerless to help her. Of all the wishes people had brought him - money, love, revenge - this seemed to him the most poignant and the one most deserving of fulfillment. A little black girl who wanted to rise up out of the pit of her blackness and see the world with blue eyes." pg. 174

Topic Tracking: Beauty 8

Soaphead gives Pecola some meat sprinkled with poison on it. He tells her to feed it to the dog, and if the dog behaves strangely, then her wish to have blue eyes will come true on the next day. Pecola takes the foul smelling meat and feeds it to the dog. When the dog starts to choke and move funny, and finally fall to the floor, Pecola runs out of the house and down the road. Soaphead, meanwhile, sits down at his desk and writes a letter to God. He tells God about his troubles and his adoration for little girls, and specifically, his love of their developing breasts. Then, he explains to God about how Pecola came to visit him that day. He says that he gave her the blue eyes she had wanted for so long, because God would not give them to her. Now, Soaphead assumes, God is jealous of him. He seals the letter and goes into the other room, where he finds the dead dog.

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