Recitatif Analysis

899 Words4 Pages
Toni Morrison has written several texts that bring light to the issue of racism. Recitatif is no exception. It is Toni Morrison’s only short story. Recitatif gives a glimpse of what America was like during desegregation of black and whites. It is the story of two girls, one black and one white, that lived in an orphanage outside of New York City together. Morrison never assigns race to either girl leaving the reader to figure out which girl is white and which girl is black. “Readers want to be able to categorize characters one way or another, to "know" race, and they will go to great lengths to assign racial categories if the writer fails to do it for them.” (Benjamin) Morrison does give what could be considered as hints to the reader about which character is black and which is white. By producing this racial ambiguity, Morrison encourages the reader to reflect on their own racial bias and stereotyping. Twyla, the narrator, was living in in St. Bonaventure’s Orphanage. Roberta, the other main character joined Twyla at the St. Bonaventure’s when her mother could no longer care for her. The girls have a connection because they are placed in the same room and they are the only two in the orphanage that have living parents. Roberta’s mother is sick, and Twyla’s mother is a dancer. While at the orphanage the racial differences aren’t as pronounced as they are in their adult lives. Both children appear to look past the issue of color after the initial meeting. However, there are some clues that are given about each girls’ race while they are staying at the orphanage. One of the first clues is in the beginning when Twyla says, “Every now and then she would stop dancing long enough to tell me something important and one of the things she said was that they never washed their hair and they smelled funny.” (PAGE?) This sentence could paint a totally different picture to different people. Some may read this and think “they” are black people, and some may read it and consider “they” to be white people. While in the orphanage race doesn’t seem to be a central issue. However, a disabled kitchen worker by the name of Maggie is treated terribly by the older girls, and even Twyla and Roberta. They yelled things like “Dummy!

More about Recitatif Analysis

Get Access