Black or White? Caucasian, African American, Indian, Asian, Native Hawaiian: together all of these races make up the different racial groups in America. Racism is the belief that race is the reason for human traits and that racial differences cause a race to be inferior or superior to other races. Racism affects how Americans live and work together in America. Recitatif by Toni Morrison published in 1983, fifteen years after the Civil Rights Movement, is an example of fictional writing that addresses the topic of racism that occurred in America. Morrison’s use of main characters with unrealved races in the context of the era of the civil rights movement allows readers to clearly understand her critique on racism: the color of a person’s skin does not matter.
Throughout Recitatif Morrison never reveals Twyla 's or Roberta’s race to the reader. However, what race they are can be debated, based on information Morrison gives in the story. For example, Roberta smells funny, can’t read, and has big hair. For a reader to come to a conclusion on what race they think Roberta was by those three attributes of her would mean the reader would be relying on stereotypes to help them come to their conclusion. The fact that Morrison never reveals to the reader Twyla’s or Roberta’s race indicates that either Caucasian or African American people are cable of acting or even looking the way Twyla and Roberta did. Morrison wants people to let go of any racial prejudice or stereotypes that they
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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.
Racial identities are an ideological, social construct and phenomenon adopted by various literature. Many literature authors select the subject of race to identify the existing stereotypes of race in the modern and ancient societies. Toni Morrison reveals her beliefs about racisms through a graphic description of the Recitatif plot. The style allows the reader to experience the true nature of racism and revelation of personal traits without the use of race. In the short story, Recitatif, Morrison deliberately denies her characters, their racial identity contributing to the ambiguity fluctuating between the dominant races, white and black. The author reviews the historical events of the 1960s and 70s that promote the racial identities of White and African-Americans. Changing the expectations of her readers on the solutions based on stereotypes, further spreading the awareness of the racial stereotypes that are controversial topics on human existence (Löchle 4). The ironic nature, literature tricks, and the plot of the story embrace the racial stereotypes unfolding in the narrative. The author engages her readers through a closer reading through the adoption of literary elements, allowing the readers to fill in the gaps in the story. Through their participation, the readers develop an emotional attachment to the characters and the story, generating a deeper understanding and reversal responses. In particular, the ambiguity of racial
Most stories based in the 1950's-1960's explicitly state the race of their character in order to show how race played a role in their life, though the story of Twyla and Roberta showed how race worked into their life while also keeping their race a secret. For Morrison, not portraying race as the main component of the story was important in order to have the reader understand the character's struggle through inference rather than through what the author says.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
In Toni Morrison’s short story “Recitatif” there is never a definitive statement about the race of either Twyla or Roberta. There are many different ways in the text to try to classify one as Caucasian and the other as African American. For example, “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 from a whole other race.” Also this text, “so for the moment it didn't matter that we looked like salt and pepper standing there and that's what the other kids called us sometimes.” There are many hints of traits throughout the story that could be indicative of a black or white status. To place either girl in a race category would be done by stereotyping them by
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
Toni Morrison’s short story, “Recitatif” is about two young girls, named Twyla and Roberta, who grow up in an Orphanage because their mothers were in no condition to properly take care of them. The main theme in the “Recitatif” is concentrating on racism. A very mind- grabbing event in the story is how the author never tells the race of the two girls. Morrison leaves class codes but not racial codes, as in the story Twyla states, “ It was one thing to be taken out of your own bed early in the mornings—it was something else to be stuck in a strange place with a girl from a whole other race” (pg 201) , even the girls do not mention which race the other is. Recitatif is a great story as it plays with the reader’s emotions and effectively makes the reader aware of the stereotypes and each races characteristics.
“Recitatif” addresses several problems in society without attaching a character to a specific issue. Toni Morrison shows racial stereotyping as a learned behavior as well as an incessant activity. The most admirable characteristic of this story is it does not draw a particular conclusion nor does it come to a clean resolution. The general framework of the story poses questions that incite the reader to reevaluate one’s opinion of the importance of race to them. The story causes one to try to see others as
“Recitatif” is a short story by Toni Morrison, an african american author. On the outside, this story seems to feature 5 meetings between two girls, each aging slightly each time we see them. One white. One black. Referred to as “Salt and pepper”. However, on the inside, Toni Morrison reveals her intention to educate the readers about racial stereotypes and their everyday impacts. She does this through her unique writing style of making influential choices, and using symbols to harmonize them with her theme.
In “Recitatif” the two woman Twyla and Robert meet each other as children when they were put in an orphanage. They became acquainted because they were afraid of the other children that were at the shelter. In this short story, the author doesn’t make the race of the women clear. The author did this with intent to reveal the stereotypes that the reader assumes throughout the short story to decide on the race of Twyla and Roberta. Their encounter with Maggie was significantly important because both Twyla and Roberta had different memories of Maggie in the orchard, they then come to the conclusion that neither of them remembers what race Maggie was or even what happened to her. In “Recitatif” Morrison captures the nature of racial identity by using symbolism, diction, and friendship.
Recitatif is a story written by Toni Morrison. It is about characters Twyla and Roberta and their experiences during and after being put in a shelter. Race can change what a person’s motives are viewed as. Racial stereotyping and racial segregation play a big part in this story. Twyla and Roberta are of a different race/ethnicity which causes strife between the two and they have different opinion on things.