Character Analysis Soaphead Church (Elihue Micah Whitcomb)


Proud of the intermingling of the races that produced him, Soaphead Church, a self-proclaimed Anglophile, is so pleased with his looks that he is initially revolted by Pecola's appearance. Later, however, her dark skin, kinky hair, and poverty-stricken appearance turn his revulsion into pity: Although some people are able to rise above their defects, he knows instinctively that Pecola will never do so. He senses a doomed quality about her.

Misanthropic in his perversity, Soaphead is reviled by human contact. He is nauseated by the "humanness of people — their body odor, breath odor, blood, sweat, tears, decayed or missing teeth, ear wax, blackheads, moles, blisters, skin crusts — all of the body's survivalist protections.

Mixed blood and white ancestry were always important to Soaphead's family, the Whitcombs — more important, in fact, than how the family was actually treated by their white, reluctant relatives. To the Whitcombs, whites were always superior and therefore beautiful; as a result, they cherished their relationship with whites and sought to maintain their heritage of light skin.

Because the thought of being near a woman is abhorrent to Soaphead, he has begun to prefer the company of young girls. His effete and fastidious mannerisms detract from whatever masculinity he might have developed. Not surprisingly, his eccentricities alienate him from most people, which pleases him.