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Pecola Breedlove, an eleven year old girl who learns from the adults around her and the media of movies and advertisements that only European-American girls are pretty and that the prettiest girls have blonde hair and blue eyes.
A secondary protagonist is Claudia MacTeer, the first person narrator of the novel, who is ten years old and witnesses what happens to Pecola.
The primary antagonist of the novel is not embodied in a person, but is an idea or a way of thinking. It is called internalized racism, a kind of thinking that happens when people in a group targeted by racism begin to believe in their own inferiority. The African- American community of Lorain, Ohio suffers from internalize racism. The children are its most vulnerable targets.
Pecola is raped by her father, Cholly Breedlove. This climax is connected to the main plot around internalized racism as it is shown to be both a result of racial conditioning--the phenomenon of being taught from childhood up that one is inferior and lowly-- and a literalization of the symbolic rape of children.
Shortly following this rape, Pecola goes to a spiritualist to ask for blue eyes. The spiritualist leads her to believe that she will gain her wish.
Pecola becomes insane. She manifests her insanity in her belief that she has The Bluest Eye of anyone on earth. She also gains an imaginary friend who affirms the beauty of her blue eyes and who talks to her about the rape(s).