| Quote #7
Here was an ugly little girl asking for beauty....A little black girl who wanted to rise up out of the pit of her blackness and see the world with blue eyes. His outrage grew and felt like power. For the first time he honestly wished he could work miracles. (3.9.21)
This passage fleshes out Soaphead's character a bit and suggests that he has a great capacity for empathy. It also reminds us of Soaphead's own racial self-hatred, so we can see why he would be inclined to try to help Pecola battle her feelings of ugliness.
| Quote #8
The birdlike gestures are worn away to a mere picking and plucking her way between the tire rims and the sunflowers, between Coke bottles and milkweed, among all the waste and beauty of the world – which is what she herself was. All of our waste which we dumped on her and which she absorbed. And all of our beauty, which was hers first and which she gave to us. (4.11.5)
This passage suggests that the townsfolk of Lorain have used Pecola and her family as a kind of emotional landfill. They took all of their negative emotions about their race and social position and dumped them onto Pecola, with tragic results.
| Quote #9
It was their contempt for their own blackness that gave the first insult its teeth. They seemed to have taken all of their smoothly cultivated ignorance, their exquisitely learned self-hatred, their elaborately designed hopelessness and sucked it all up into a fiery cone of scorn that had burned for ages in the hollows of their minds – cooled – and spilled over lips of outrage, consuming whatever was in its path. (2.4.12)
The young boys on the playground taunt Pecola for being black as a way of angrily expressing their own self-hatred and internalized racism.