Exactly what does it mean to be self-reliant? To be reliant on one's own capabilities, judgment, or resources maybe? Well, it means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. To some it means to struggle through one's circumstances. To some it means ensuing one's dreams. And yet to others it means following tradition. Although each connotation has a different motive for being self reliant, all of those motives sprout from character's hardships.
Self-Reliance was imposed upon Pecola in The Bluest Eye. She had no choice but to be self-reliant. Pecola was abandoned, a victim of racism, and raped by her father. She had nobody to turn to. Even total strangers treat her like garbage. "She be lucky if it don't live. Bound to be the ugliest thing walking. Can't help but be. Ought to be a law: two ugly people doubling up like that to make more ugly.
Be better off in the ground." (Morrison, Page 148) Since no one is willing to provide for her, she must somehow provide for herself. It is like she has been thrown into a pool of melancholic acid and every day she sinks deeper and deeper, the satirical substance eating away from the inside out, until she hits the bottom and is consumed by the phlogiston. She has so many hardships that her caustic circumstances drive her to schizophrenia: (Page 151) "Ever since I got my blue eyes, [Mrs. Breedlove] look away from me all of the time. Do you suppose she's jealous too? Could be. They are pretty you know.
I know. [Soaphead] really did a good job. Everybody's jealous. Every time I look at somebody, they look off.
Is that why nobody has told you how pretty they are? Sure it is. Can you imagine? Something like...