Blue eyes is a recurring metaphor. It is seen in the longing that Pecola has for blue eyes, the blue eyes of the Mary Janes on the candy wrapper, and the bluish green eyes of the black cat that Junior kills, which shine in the light like "blue ice." Blue eyes represent beauty in white culture. They are a much admired and envied physical attribute of whites but they are impossible to have if one is black. Pecola desires the bluest eyes because she wants to be the most beautiful and the most loved; but she can never be beautiful as defined by Anglo white culture because she is black. Therefore, she believes that without blue eyes, she can never be loved. Even when Pecola believes she has acquired blue eyes, she is not satisfied because she fears that someone somewhere may have eyes that are even bluer than hers, and she wonders whether her blue eyes are blue enough. Pecola's story is unique and her own, but it is also reminiscent of centuries of cultural mutilation of black people in America. Morrison is saying that black people can never be loved through their emulation of white culture, but only through a genuine respect for and nurturing of their own culture.
The Seasons: Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer
Seasons occur in a linear order, in a predictable pattern. But the lives of the characters presented in the book do not follow a natural pattern. Warped by the society in which they live, their lives are unnatural. By structuring the narrative around the regular passage of the seasons, the author draws attention to the discrepancy. She also sets up a conflict between what is naturally appropriate for each season and what actually happens to the characters. For example, spring, the time of natural rebirth, is the season in which Pecola is raped by her father and conceives by him, an unnatural act. Similarly, the fact that the marigolds do not bloom that year is a sign of some deep disruption in the natural order of things.
Keeping Secrets and Telling Secrets
"Quiet as it is kept" is how Claudia begins her telling of Pecola's story. It is as if she is telling us a secret she has kept inside for a long time. It is the revealing of an intimacy, the breaking of a spell. When children keep secrets, they feel powerful; the secret has power. However, when they tell, the spell is broken and the secret no longer has power. Now that Claudia is an adult, she is choosing to reveal their secret. She is naming the power that held her and the community, in hopes of breaking its detrimental effect. An evil thing was done to Pecola, but the shameful event was never spoken about until now. Claudia wants everyone to know the truth.