Character Analysis Claudia and Frieda Macteer


One of the narrators of the novel, Claudia remembers the events of one year in her childhood that culminated in the rape and madness of an eleven-year-old friend, Pecola Breedlove. Growing up in a black, nurturing, functional — albeit poor — family, Claudia is Pecola's opposite. Her negative and even violent reaction to white dolls lets us know that she has the ability to survive in an inverted world order that would teach her to despise herself. Although the stiff-limbed, blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned dolls are lovingly given to her at Christmas, Claudia resents them and dismembers them.

Claudia recognizes her own inner worth — as well as her own inner violence. She enjoys destroying the white dolls because as she does so, she is satisfying her resentment of white girls and white values that would label her as black and ugly.

Claudia and her older sister, Frieda, have learned their life lessons from their mother. They have learned how to be strong black females who can fight back and not be overwhelmed and brainwashed by standards of beauty imposed on them by white and black women.

Even when Mrs. MacTeer is singing the blues and fussing at her daughters, there is love throughout their house; in contrast, there is no love in Pecola's house. Because of their mother's strengths and examples, both Claudia and Frieda are able to fight back against the forces that threaten to destroy them psychologically. Both girls resent the fact that not only white society but also black society values the Maureen Peals of the world. They realize that they must create their own self-worth in this world of beauty to which they don't belong.