Study Guide

The Bluest Eye Spring, Chapter 9

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Spring, Chapter 9

  • The narrator tells the story of Soaphead Church.
  • For as long as he can remember, Soaphead has been nauseated by people, but he has always loved objects.
  • When Soaphead learned the word "misanthrope" he found the perfect word to describe him. Though he hates people, he works closely with them, as a "Reader, Adviser, and Interpreter of Dreams."
  • Soaphead comes from a light-skinned West Indian family proud of its "mixed blood." (They have an English nobleman in their ancestry.) Soaphead's family encouraged their children to marry "up" by only marrying other light-skinned folks. When they couldn't marry a light-skinned person, they would marry within the family.
  • Soaphead's father was a schoolmaster with a violent streak. He married a half-Chinese woman who died while giving birth. Soaphead was born Elihue Micah Whitcomb.
  • Attempting to escape his father's abuse, Soaphead married a woman named Velma, but she left him after a few months.
  • Soaphead left the West Indies and moved to America, where he drifted from career to career, entering the ministry, then studying psychiatry, sociology, and physical therapy.
  • Soaphead settled down in Lorain, Ohio. The women in the town learned that he was celibate and kept to himself. They thought he was some kind of supernatural shaman figure, and he embraced this role, taking on their nickname for him, Soaphead Church.
  • Soaphead rents a room from an old woman named Bertha Reese. She has an old dog with runny eyes that Soaphead hates. He buys poison to kill the dog but can't get up the courage to do it.
  • One day, Pecola visits and asks Soaphead to give her blue eyes. Soaphead is sympathetic. He knows he can't do such a thing, but he tells her to give some meat to the dog. If the dog reacts to the meat, he tells Pecola, she will get her blue eyes.
  • Unbeknownst to Pecola, Soaphead gives her poisonous meat to feed the dog. When the dog starts to gag and limp around, Pecola believes she is getting her wish for blue eyes.
  • After Pecola runs away, Soaphead writes a long letter to God about being rejected by Velma. He talks about young girls' breasts.
  • Soaphead recalls two young girls, Doreen and Sugar Babe, who he used to touch in exchange for money and candy. Soaphead alludes to doing things with other young girls as well.
  • Soaphead tells God that he did not touch Pecola in any way. He brags that he has made Pecola believe that she has blue eyes. He insists that God is jealous of him.
  • Soaphead ends his letter and marvels over all of the objects he has collected.
  • As he sleeps, old Bertha finds the body of her dead dog.

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