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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
SUMMER - CHAPTER 12
Claudia is reminded of summer when she breaks "into the tightness of a strawberry." For Claudia, summer is the season of storms. She remembers storms, but her memory is uncertain because she remembers a storm her mother told her about which took place in 1929 when there was a tornado that blew away half of south Lorain. Claudia mixes up her own memory with her motherís. When she bites into a strawberry, she sees her mother standing in a pink crepe dress with one hand on her hip as a storm sweeps her up. In her image of it, her mother remains unmoved, nonplused, while the storm rages around her.
Claudia remembers the summer when she and Frieda received their seeds. They had waited since April for them to arrive. If they sold all the packets for five cents each, they would receive a new bicycle. They spend every day walking around the town trying to sell their seeds. They would be invited in and given cool drinks and they would half listen to what the people were saying. Little by little, they began to hear the story of Pecola Breedlove. They heard that Pecola was pregnant by Cholly. Cholly has left town. The gossiping people even partially blame Pecola for the rape. Mrs. Breedlove beat her senseless and the people say itís amazing Pecola even survived. The people talk about how the baby will be ugly.
Claudia remembers a curious kind of "defensive shame" succeeded their astonishment. They felt more sorrowful because no one else seemed to feel sorry. They thought about the baby that everyone hoped would be born dead. Claudia felt a very strong need for someone to want the baby to be born alive. She wanted "to counteract the universal love of white baby dolls." Claudia and Frieda felt the confidence of children that they could alter the course of events and change a life by invoking a miracle. They decide to make a bargain with God to let the baby live if they are good for a whole month. They decide they need to give up something. They land on the idea of giving up the bicycle, burying the money, and planting the seeds.
Here, Claudia, the first person narrator of the novel, returns. The mood of this chapter is much closer to memory than present time. It is an adult woman remembering a summer when she heard the horrible story of a girl raped by her father and a whole community that did not care about the girl and wished for the babyís death. With the faith and logic of children, Claudia and Frieda decide to sacrifice their summerís project and pray for the babyís death.