Toni Morrison’s novel Sula, examines a wide range of topics, delving particularly into morality, the black female experience, and friendship. The narrative follows childhood best friends, Nel and Sula, as they navigate life in the Bottom, a black community in Ohio. Although inseparable as children, even undivided after accidentally killing a two-year-old boy, they follow divergent paths as adults. Nel leads a life of conformity; Sula does the opposite. An enigma to all, society tries to make sense of Sula through her birthmark. It is a blank slate onto which people project whichever meaning most suits them. The different ways characters perceive Sula’s birthmark reveals more about the interpreter
In the story “Recitatif”, Toni Morrison portrays the lives of two girls from different racial backgrounds who are emotionally abandoned by their mothers. The main characters, Twyla and Roberta, are portrayed at different points in their life, ranging from when they were eight until their adulthood. Because of the situations with their mothers, Twyla and Roberta develop unhealthy senses of self-image and attempt to solve them with distractions. As time goes by, their characteristics become vastly different because of their lifestyles and outlooks.
Toni Morrison’s only short story was Recitatif, she never reveals which character is white or black. The story explores the relationship between Twyla and Roberta, and their experiences based on their racial differences. By decoding each characters racial identity, we can then understand how race defines a person’s status in society. In analyzing the social cues such as culture, politics and economic signs, to identify the racial identity of Twyla and Roberta. I believe that Twyla is the white character and Roberta the black character.
From the very beginning, racial tensions were seen, even from girls of such a young age. While being in the shelter, Twyla did not want to share a room with Roberta because previously her mother had told her that “those people smell funny.” Come to find out, this was an untrue statement and the two girls ended up sticking together; it is the girl’s bond that keeps them sane in this orphanage. They are the only one’s at St. Bonny’s that still actually have parents and this too is a reason they stay so intertwined. The narrator of the story talks of all the things that lessens herself as a person and she is most likely ashamed of. In the early pages of the story, Twyla remembers a time when Maggie ran through the field to catch the bus, which she was inevitably late for. The older girls in the orphanage always gawked at and made fun of this poor woman and the way she walked, which made her fall. Twyla felt tinges of guilt remembering how she never helped Maggie
In 1983, Toni Morrison published the only short story she would ever create. The controversial story conveys an important idea of what race is and if it really matter in the scheme of life. This story takes place during the time period of the Civil Rights Movement. The idea of civil rights was encouraged by the government but not enforced by the states, leaving many black Americans suffering every day. In Morrison’s short story Recitatif, Morrison manipulates the story’s diction to describe the two women’s races interchangeably resulting in the confusion of the reader. Because Morrison never establishes the “black character” or the “white character”, the reader is left guessing the race of the two main characters throughout the whole
It has always been assumed that races have a certain look; a person can always tell what a person is by their mannerisms, their speech and the overall way they carried themselves even if they looked a certain way. However, this is mainly due to stereotypes that have long plagued our society and what one “expects” someone to look like just based on the negative connotations that are associated with skin complexion. When we read certain literature, the description of the character is the first thing that we look for as it is a way for us to somewhat bond with the character and attempt to see the story through their eyes. Toni Morrison’s Recitatif explores how the author describes each character not expressing their race leaving a bit of mysery to the reader and attempts to breaks down the stereotypes that exist for each race. Through a literary analysis, the reader is able to see those stereotypical assumptions about the color of one’s skin and how they should cease to exist in any world whether it is literal or figurative.
The author tries to show us the reader that even back then, at a time where racism was a huge problem that it is a problem that it is still seen today. Toni Morrison tries to open our eyes and let us know that there is a big problem that still needs to be fixed. If something is still not being done when is the change going to happen? I as the reader feel that in most passages there is always a point of view of how a women must be characterized. It is important to realize that women are being underestimated and racism is still
In the 1950’s-80’s racism was more prevalent during this time than it is today. In Toni Morrison’s “Recitatif” these racial prejudices are experienced by Twyla and Roberta along with class issues at the time. Twyla and Roberta were both put into an orphanage whenever their mothers were not able to care for them because of personal reasons. One girl was black and the other white, but it was not mentioned who was what race. Twyla’s mother danced all night and Roberta’s mother was ill. These factors played a huge role on both girls thoughts and actions. Race and class issues reflect the prejudice experienced by Twyla and Roberta in Toni Morrison’s short story,“Recitatif” which shapes their life views.
While racial stereotypes contribute to the majority of the short story “Recitatif” by Toni Morrison, Morrison uses these stereotypes to convey a much larger issue. Morrison uses the stereotypes of intelligence, social class, and the character’s behavior and attitude to break the racial code. The two characters, Twyla and Roberta, realize that it is not about race but about their experiences of relating Maggie to their mothers that makes them similar. Many readers try to figure out which character is which race and as they go through, trying to figure out these clues. All they do is realize their own stereotypes.
In “Recitatif” by Toni Morrison, two young girls Roberta and Twyla meet one another at a state home for orphan and foster children. It is apparent from the start that either of the girls is white or black. Even at their young age, they both have preconceived expectations of the other because of their difference in race. However, as each character ages and is developed further, many of their traits could be that of someone white or black, albeit they contrast in personality. As a result of these traits, readers will likely unconsciously try to racially classify Roberta and Twyla only to change their mind a minute later. “Recitatif” forces readers to abandon the preconceived stereotypes and realize that they are constantly
'Recitatif', by Toni Morrison, is a profound narrative that I believe is meant to invite readers to search for a buried connotation of the experiences that the main characters, Twyla and Roberta, face as children and as they are reunited as adults. Some of the story?s values and meanings involving race, friendship and abandonment begin to emerge as the plot thickens; however, more messages become hidden and remain unrecognized, even until the very last sentence.
Many authors write fictional novels about historical events. A common topic written about is the racial integration between African Americans and whites during the 1950’s. Although the short story “Recitatif” explicate many different themes, the central topic of Morrison’s writing is about racism. Throughout the story, the author expresses examples of hatred between black and white races at the shelter, the different encounters they have, and the remarks to Maggie’s race in conversations between Twyla and Roberta.
Throughout the story, Morrison includes clues about Roberta and Twyla’s race that serve the purpose of confusing the reader and also, revealing the reader’s own assumptions and prejudices about race. The issue of race and racism is central to the story. Twyla’s first response to rooming with Roberta at St. Bonny’s is to feel sick to her stomach. Twyla described this feeling by saying “It was one thing to be taken out of your own bed early in the morning — it was something else to be stuck in a strange place with a girl
As you read, you notice that Morrison never really just states the race of the girls for a reason: to allow the readers to form their own opinion. The story starts off with Twyla being dropped off at the orphanage by her mother. This is where she met Roberta, who became a close friend, the two girls started bonding because no one wanted to play with them, and the reason for that, as Twyla states is that, “we weren’t real orphans with beautiful dead parents in the sky” (pg 201). The two girls of the opposite race were just two abandoned girls whose mother’s did not have the ability to raise them right. Although the girls didn’t have many friends, they made their time at St.Bonnys very adventurous. The last time the girls saw each other at St.Bonnys was at the picnic, which shortly Robertas mother came and took her home. This event made the first mall breakage in their friendship.
Toni Morrison is one of the most talented and successful African-American authors of our time. Famous for works such as The Bluest Eye, Sula, and Beloved, Morrison has cultivated large audiences of all ethnicities and social classes with her creative style of writing. It is not Morrison’s talent of creating new stories that attracts her fans. In contrast, it is her talent of revising and modernizing traditional Biblical and mythological stories that have been present in literature for centuries. Morrison replaces the characters in these myths, whom would have been white, middle-class males, with characters who depict the cultural practices in black communities. The protagonists in Morrison’s works are primarily African-American women