Morrison’sfather was a welder in a shipyard and her family was poor, especially duringthe Great Depression. So the life of the Mcteer family in the novel is justlike her own childhood.
As Michael Awkward linked the Mcteer family with NikkiGiovanni’s poem, “Nikki Rosa” 16as an example to express Claudia’s rejection of white evaluative standards tointerpret 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 aftertheir farm work, or her mother going to bed with her father following hiscustom of taking a nap because he was doing three jobs during day and night. 17 And it is clear that she knowswhat will happen if she does not have such family ties. So this chapteranalyzes how Morrison depicts the influence of the parental unit on eachcharacter in the novel.Whenchildren get cold, Mrs. McTeer directs a volley of curses at them, or shemisinterpret her daughters’ attendance on Pecola when she had her firstmenstruation as doing nasty things, and hit them with a stick. Mrs. McTeer isfar from the perfect or ideal mother.
However, she lives honestly according toher beliefs based on her own value standards, so that her children do not feeluneasy concerning their lives or are distrustful. Even though they aresometimes scolded due to false accusations, they maintained their innocencebecause 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. Icould 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 withhands who does not want me to die.
” (p.12)Asa woman and as a mother, Mrs. Breedlove (Pauline) is depicted as a perfectcontrast to Mrs. Mcteer. The reason why she dwells upon her self-usefulness isthat she has been abandoned three times in her life. She has not been broughtup in circumstances like Geraldine (mulatto) who was always under parentalcontrol. However she was brought up with a feeling of being branded as worthlessin her family.
She was born as the ninth child among eleven children, and maybeit was a natural consequence that she does not have the chance to gain theattention of her family very much. When she seriously hurt her foot in anaccident in her infancy, she was not treated properly, so that her foot nevercompletely healed, and she can not work normally. It may be fortune inmisfortune that there was no one in her life who mocks her way of walking, buteveryone’s handling her with kid gloves makes her feel marginalized andworthless. Since she does not want to think that the reason for herworthlessness is her personality, she presumes that the real cause stems fromher injured foot. When she got married to Cholly and got pregnant, she regainedsomething of herself through her maternity and she believed she could havesomething real to love and devote herself to. However, she fails in the end.Morrisonalso gives an example of the influence of parents on their children in mulattofamilies. The reason for Soaphead Church’s being a “misanthrope” (p.
164) andhaving cleanliness fetishism stems from his father’s control. His fatherrejected his innate nature. Since he has never been loved or accepted by hisfather, this caused his split personality. He has no confidence in himself. Atthe same time the fetishism indicates his denial of his own roots, so itthrusts him into self- denial. As a consequence, even though he can get goodscores at school at first, he can not adjust to studying or to his job when itcomes to the point when he must really specialize. However, he once had thechance 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 berescued by her from his unnatural mental life. He was unable to discard hisfetishism enough for Velma to be able to accept him. He is bowed down byloneliness and grief, but his father tries to build him up by forcing him toget a much higher academic status while criticizing Velma’s genealogy.
Hishumanistic mental balance was complexly upset, and he completely lost theenergy to discover what to do by himself. At last, he is abandoned by his fatherwho was responsible for his indecisiveness and disabilities. The only thingleft for him to do was to just keep on living by playing whatever role otherpeople required of him.