Maureen   Leave a comment

In this chapter (the first chapter of the Winter section), we are introduced to Maureen. Claudia says that “Frieda and I were bemused, irritated, and fascinated by her.” They felt like they should find a flaw, and they were happy to find out she had a ‘dog tooth’ and had been born with an extra finger on each hand. One day, Maureen decides to walk part of the way home with Freida and Claudia. While the girls take off the extra layers they had on on a surprisingly warm day, they noticed a group of boys harassing Pecola Breedlove, and they had made up a rhyme that taunted her skin color and the rumor that her father sleeps naked. Claudia seems to understand that it doesn’t matter that the boys were black and their fathers “had similarly relaxed habits,” but that really that made the insult worse, since they hated themselves along with Pecola. Frieda runs up and hits one boy on the head, and Claudia quickly joins in to save Pecola, but once Maureen runs up, they decide it wouldn’t be right to beat up these three other girls while she was watching. Maureen is kind to Pecola, which surprises the other two girls, and they start to hate her a little less. Maureen makes an offer to buy ice cream, but she ends up only buying for Pecola, and of course, Claudia and Frieda don’t have any money. While they walk, Maureen asks Pecola if she’d ever seen a naked man, to which she replies no, a little surprised, and she says she wouldn’t want to see her father naked, since that’s dirty. Maureen says she didn’t ask about her father, she asked about anyone, and she doesn’t seem to want to let it go that Pecola said her father, specifically. Claudia jumps at the chance to be angry at Maureen, and they start arguing about whether or not Maureen is boy-crazy. Maureen ends it by calling them black and ugly. The girls shout insults after her until they can no longer see her bright green socks. Pecola, of course, accepts this as true, and Claudia describes Maureens parting words as wise and accurate. At home, Mr. Henry gives the girls money for icecream, but they go to the candy store instead, to avoid Maureen. This brings them home earlier than Mr. Henry expected, and they see that he has invited the prostitutes over, and the girls know their other hates these women. When they ask Mr. Henry about them, he says they are in his bible study group. The girls know he is lying, of course, but decide to not tell their mother because they like Mr. Henry.

Maureen’s presence confirms the assumptions the society in this book make, mainly that whiteness is required for beauty and blackness makes ugliness. Maureen is black, but she is lighter than the other black children in her school, so she is prettier according to their rules. She also much wealthier than the other black children.

(whatever flowers symbolize in this novel, they reapear here. As Maureen runs away from the girls after they argue, she is described as having legs like danelion plants that lost their heads. )

Maureen talks about a movie where a girl rejects her black mother, but regrets it at her mother funeral. Maureens mother has seen the movie four times herself, and Maureen wants to see it next time she can. She clearly enjoys the dramatic story, and it may be a reflection of her relationship with her mother, which would explain why her mother enjoys the movie so much, too. This movie also shows how racism has saturated society so that it can be easily missed but still found in a movie or a milk glass (Shirley Temple cup).

Maureen also talks to the girls about menstruation, babies, and naked men, showing that these children are close to the age where they will start to mature, and soon after become adults. Pecola acts very defensive about her father nakedness, foreshadowing what happens later, namely when she has her fathers baby.


Posted March, 2012 by emilienoel2013 in Uncategorized

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