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Quotes

Quote #4

I was glad to have a chance to show anger. Not only because of the ice cream, but because we had seen our own father naked and didn't care to be reminded of it and feel the shame brought on by the absence of shame. (2.4.31)

This passage suggests that Maureen is trying to make Claudia feel bad about something innocent and normal – seeing her father without his clothes on. We might also think about innocence itself as being defined by an absence of shame.

Quote #5

While he moves inside her, she will wonder why they didn't put the necessary but private parts of the body in some more convenient place – like the armpit, for example, or the palm of the hand. Someplace one could get to easily, and quickly, without undressing. (2.5.7)

Geraldine's opinions about sex reveal the extent to which she is still very childish about these matters. The innocence about sex that many of the women in the novel display contrasts with the behavior and mannerisms of the prostitutes and the men.

Quote #6

What could he do for her – ever? What give her? What say to her? What could a burned-out black man say to the hunched back of his eleven-year-old daughter? If he looked into her face, he would see those haunted, loving eyes. The hauntedness would irritate him – the love would move him to fury. How dare she love him? Hadn't she any sense at all? What was he supposed to do about that? Return it? How? (3.8.87)

Adult men in the novel tend to either worship innocence or be disgusted by it. We might think of Soaphead and Cholly as on opposite ends of this spectrum. Pecola's innocence only reminds Cholly of his inadequacy as a father, enraging him further.

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