A woman of many contradictions, Pauline resists the Anglo brainwashing in her early years; she doesn't straighten her hair or wear makeup. However, she begins secretly to enjoy her movie star fantasies and the multicolored rainbow orgasms when she makes love with Cholly. After she has been fired by a white employer and treated like an animal by white doctors, she begins perversely to treat her daughter, Pecola, with the same contempt. She is often cruel, cold, and aloof to Pecola as she looks at her daughter's eyes and sees only ugliness.
Saddled with an alcoholic husband, a rootless son, and an ugly daughter, Pauline turns to a picture-perfect white family for happiness and fulfillment. Transforming herself into the white family's "perfect servant," she becomes Polly, parroting the Fishers' white attitudes and even consoling the little pink-and-white Fisher girl at the expense of her own confused and injured daughter's feelings.