Role of Parents in Morrison's Recitatif and O'Connor's The Artificial Nigger

1148 WordsJun 18, 20185 Pages
Role of Parents in Morrison's Recitatif and O'Connor's The Artificial Nigger Parental figures in Toni Morrison's "Recitatif" and Flannery O'Connor's "The Artificial Nigger" use indoctrination in an attempt to uphold tradition and reinforce racial boundaries. While one adult influence fulfills the mission entirely, the other must settle for inconstant, recurrent success and ultimate failure. In "Recitatif" and "The Artificial Nigger" a mother and a grandfather, respectively, with too much responsibility seek to alter the lives of two children for the worst. Roberta Fisk and Nelson Head receive introductions to the concept of racism from people with a great deal of control over their lives. Morrison's piece…show more content…
Prior to the disturbing incident, Roberta ignores the racial difference between herself and Twyla because their similarities rise above any color barrier. Two eight-year-olds orphaned to give their mothers more freedom and less worry find common ground more easily than perhaps imagined. Even after the unsettling encounter, Roberta gives Twyla reason to believe that "she was sorry that her mother would not shake [Twyla's] mother's hand" (214). Rather unluckily, Roberta's presence during her mother's actions, geared toward making Twyla and Mary feel small, upsets her stability. In the same way, Nelson's feet slip from their base. Mr. Head not only publicly announces his racial attitudes, but he does so repeatedly. As he himself says, "A six-month-old child don't know a nigger from anybody else" (252). The same idea applies to a ten-year-old child, especially if someone feels it necessary for him to "be content to stay home for the rest of his life" (251). Nelson even has the urge to rest in a black woman's secure arms once his grandfather gets them lost in the city. Still, Nelson learns to hate black people in Atlanta and decides "[he'll] never go back again" (270) based on his perception of the city as allowed by Mr. Head. Though the competition almost overcomes them, Mr. Head and Roberta's mother apparently possess almost absolute power. Roberta and Nelson only learn

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