In The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, the central theme is society's negative influence on the individual. In the novel, which takes place in Ohio in the 1940's, cruelty towards blacks by society and the desire to be a Shirley Temple replica are prevalent. Unable to endure the viciousness towards her by society, Pecola Breedlove, the protagonist of the story, goes quietly insane, withdrawing into a fantasy world in which she is the most beloved little girl.
By society's standards, Pecola is ugly because her skin is darker than a normal lighter skinned black child. Morrison takes this poor, innocent, ugly, little black girl and shows the devastating effects of daily events on a young child. Morrison tries to show a little girl as a total and complete victim of her surroundings. Whites would comment or act cold to her without even thinking twice about their effects. For example, at one point in the book, Pecola has three pennies in her shoe, which she has been saving to buy Mary Janes. On the way to the store she passes some dandelions .
"Why, she wonders, do people call them weeds? She thought they were pretty." In the store, the owner, Mr. Yacobowski "looms over the counter.She looks up at him and sees the vacuum where curiosity ought to lodge. And something more. The total absence of human recognition- the glazed separateness. Yet this vacuum is not new to her. She has seen it lurking in the eyes of all white people.So.The distaste must be for her, her blackness." When she leaves the store,"Pecola feels the inexplicable shame ebb." As she again passes the dandelions, she thinks "They are ugly. They are weeds." .
An act of going to the store and buying candy, an act usually filled with joy and anticipation, has turned into one of shame and anger. The disgusting way she was treated in the store lowers her self-esteem and proceeds to distort her views on beauty.
Teachers, young children's most influential adults, also loathe Pecola at schoolas do other children.