Morrison’s in the novel is just like her own

Morrison’s
father was a welder in a shipyard and her family was poor, especially during
the Great Depression. So the life of the Mcteer family in the novel is just
like her own childhood. As Michael Awkward linked the Mcteer family with Nikki
Giovanni’s poem, “Nikki Rosa” 16
as an example to express Claudia’s rejection of white evaluative standards to
interpret black life, Morrison herself recalls her childhood as a happy memory.
She recalls the scene of her parents on their way home, hand in hand after
their farm work, or her mother going to bed with her father following his
custom of taking a nap because he was doing three jobs during day and night. 17 And it is clear that she knows
what will happen if she does not have such family ties. So this chapter
analyzes how Morrison depicts the influence of the parental unit on each
character in the novel.

When
children get cold, Mrs. McTeer directs a volley of curses at them, or she
misinterpret her daughters’ attendance on Pecola when she had her first
menstruation as doing nasty things, and hit them with a stick. Mrs. McTeer is
far from the perfect or ideal mother. However, she lives honestly according to
her beliefs based on her own value standards, so that her children do not feel
uneasy concerning their lives or are distrustful. Even though they are
sometimes scolded due to false accusations, they maintained their innocence
because they trust in their mother’s love. Claudia recollects the days when,
“Love, thick and dark as Alaga syrup, eased up into that cracked window. I
could smell it – taste it – sweet, musty, with an edge of wintergreen in its base
– everywhere in that house. So when I think of autumn, I think of somebody with
hands who does not want me to die.” (p.12)

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As
a woman and as a mother, Mrs. Breedlove (Pauline) is depicted as a perfect
contrast to Mrs. Mcteer. The reason why she dwells upon her self-usefulness is
that she has been abandoned three times in her life. She has not been brought
up in circumstances like Geraldine (mulatto) who was always under parental
control. However she was brought up with a feeling of being branded as worthless
in her family. She was born as the ninth child among eleven children, and maybe
it was a natural consequence that she does not have the chance to gain the
attention of her family very much. When she seriously hurt her foot in an
accident in her infancy, she was not treated properly, so that her foot never
completely healed, and she can not work normally. It may be fortune in
misfortune that there was no one in her life who mocks her way of walking, but
everyone’s handling her with kid gloves makes her feel marginalized and
worthless. Since she does not want to think that the reason for her
worthlessness is her personality, she presumes that the real cause stems from
her injured foot. When she got married to Cholly and got pregnant, she regained
something of herself through her maternity and she believed she could have
something real to love and devote herself to. However, she fails in the end.

Morrison
also gives an example of the influence of parents on their children in mulatto
families. The reason for Soaphead Church’s being a “misanthrope” (p.164) and
having cleanliness fetishism stems from his father’s control. His father
rejected his innate nature. Since he has never been loved or accepted by his
father, this caused his split personality. He has no confidence in himself. At
the same time the fetishism indicates his denial of his own roots, so it
thrusts him into self- denial. As a consequence, even though he can get good
scores at school at first, he can not adjust to studying or to his job when it
comes to the point when he must really specialize. However, he once had the
chance to regain his humanity when he fell in love with an energetic lady,
Velma, who gave him the maternal love he needed. Meanwhile he was eager to be
rescued by her from his unnatural mental life. He was unable to discard his
fetishism enough for Velma to be able to accept him. He is bowed down by
loneliness and grief, but his father tries to build him up by forcing him to
get a much higher academic status while criticizing Velma’s genealogy. His
humanistic mental balance was complexly upset, and he completely lost the
energy to discover what to do by himself. At last, he is abandoned by his father
who was responsible for his indecisiveness and disabilities. The only thing
left for him to do was to just keep on living by playing whatever role other
people required of him.