“If Cholly had stopped drinking, she would never have forgiven Jesus. She needed Cholly's sins desperately. The lower he sank, the wilder and more irresponsible he became, the more splendid she and her task became” (Morrison 30).
Cholly’s alcoholism is a key source of the Breedlove’s poverty and suffering, but ironically Mrs. Breedlove doesn’t desire a stop to her husband’s drinking. On the contrary, she relies on Cholly’s failures, because they give her purpose, make her feel righteous, and allow her to continue a self-imposed martyrdom. This is an example of situational irony, because one of the things that makes Mrs. Breedlove’s life miserable also brings her satisfaction and fulfillment.
Claudia’s Jealousy (Situational Irony)
“Well, what would you do? Set there and let him pinch you?" I looked at my chest. "I don't have nothing to pinch. I'm never going to have nothing."
"Oh, Claudia, you're jealous of everything. You want him to?"
"No, I just get tired of having everything last."
"You do not. What about scarlet fever? You had that first."
"Yes, but it didn't last. Anyway, what happened at the garden?” (Morrison 74)
As the younger child, Claudia is constantly jealous that her sister gets to experience and “have” things first. Ironically, this includes even bad or traumatic experiences, such as Mr. Henry Washington sexually assaulting Frieda or having scarlet fever. Clearly, Claudia’s jealousy is the naive feeling of a young girl, but it’s still highly ironic, and darkly comedic.
Mrs. Breedlove’s Love (Irony of Fate)
“More and more she neglected her house, her children, her man—they were like the afterthoughts one has just before sleep, the early-morning and late-evening edges of her day, the dark edges that made the daily life with the Fishers lighter, more delicate, more lovely” (Morrison 98).
When she is pregnant with Pecola, Mrs. Breedlove vows to love her unborn baby no matter what it looks like. And in the first few years after Pecola is born, Mrs. Breedlove keeps that vow, but when she goes back to work, ceases being a child herself, and starts to “become,” that love sours and withers away, replaced by indifference and dislike. Her love and effort is transferred to the Fishers, particularly their young daughter. Mrs. Breedlove showers the little Fisher girl with all the love, care, and devotion she should shower on her own young daughter, who ironically is the one in dire need of human love and attention. As the above quote describes, Mrs. Breedlove increasingly neglects her own house, children, and husband, to the point where she doesn't notice Cholly’s abuse of their daughter until it is much too late, and Pecola is forever changed. Had Mrs. Breedlove given even an ounce of the care and attention to Pecola that she has given to the Fishers, perhaps Pecola’s story would be different. The irony of a mother abandoning her own daughter for someone else’s, resulting in the undoing of her own child, is an example of irony of fate, because the situation causes us to question the fairness of the universe.
Cholly’s Hate Towards Darlene (Situational Irony)
“Sullen, irritable, he cultivated his hatred of Darlene. Never did he once consider directing his hatred toward the hunters. Such an emotion would have destroyed him. They were big, white, armed men. He was small, black, helpless” (Morrison 115).
When Cholly is a young boy a pair of white hunters catch him in the middle of having sex with a young black girl. The men command Cholly to continue, and use his intimate moment for their own amusement and sport. This incident leaves an indelible mark on Cholly, but ironically instead of blaming and hating the white men, he hates his sex partner, the young black girl, who is also a victim of the white mens’ gazes.
Bluest Eye Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Bluest Eye is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.