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The Bluest Eye | Study Guide

Toni Morrison

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Autumn, Chapter 2

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Autumn, Chapter 2 of Toni Morrison's novel The Bluest Eye.

The Bluest Eye | Autumn, Chapter 2 | Summary



The chapter begins with a few lines from the Dick and Jane parody (HEREISTHEHOUSE). The lines focus on Dick and Jane's "very pretty" house. This signifies a shift to an omniscient narrator, not Claudia MacTeer. Like the Dick and Jane lines this chapter is about a home: the Breedloves' home in an old storefront. Their home consists of a "front room" and a bedroom. The front room has two sofas, a piano, and an artificial Christmas tree. The bedroom has a bed for Pecola, one for her older brother Sammy, and one for Cholly and Mrs. Breedlove. The bedroom has a stove in the middle of it for warmth. There is a kitchen in the back and a toilet bowl, but no real bathroom. The furniture is old and of poor quality. No one has ever loved it or made good memories on it. The entire space is joyless, in part because of the struggle to obtain these things.


Again Morrison emphasizes the contrast between the idealized life of Dick and Jane and the "joyless" life of the African American characters, specifically the Breedlove family. They live in a storefront that was turned into two rooms by an insufficient divider wall. Morrison suggests they may be squatters, living in the house illegally: "They slipped in and out ... making no stir in the neighborhood ... the labor force ... the mayor's office." Their house is full of cast-offs or damaged furniture they can't afford to replace.

While Claudia's family clearly struggles financially, Morrison shows the differences that existed among African Americans. Claudia's family is poor, but they are trying to improve their situation. They take in boarders, and they are proactive about finding ways to provide, even though money is tight. The Breedloves, Morrison tells the reader, are so beaten down by life they do not trouble to patch the ripped sofa. The only thing they try to fix or care for is their stove, which thwarts their efforts at every turn. Life has been difficult for both families. The MacTeers are fighting back. The Breedloves don't bother.

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