The Power of Wealth

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The Power of Wealth

In the story “Recitatif” by Toni Morrison there is a constant theme of race, discovery and social class differentiation. The characters in Morrison’s story, Twyla and Roberta, are of different races but are more evidently separated by class based on their wealth. Wealth is one of the most important defining elements of personal identity and class differentiation. The wealth of a person will determine what products and services they will consume, what subcultures they will associate with, and their everyday code of conduct. Twyla and Roberta met after being dumped in a shelter as little girls by their mothers and spent some time together as roommates. Eventually they went their separate ways and occasionally ran into each other throughout their lives. In each of Roberta and Twyla’s encounters Toni Morrison develops a distinct lifestyle that emphasizes their class position. The theme of “Barbie-Q” by Sandra Cisneros compliments the argument that Toni Morrison makes in “Recitatif” which is that class relationships in America are based on an individual’s ability to consume, association with subcultures, and everyday code of conduct. The social class of the characters in “Recitatif” and “Barbie-Q” are evaluated by their possessions. In “Recitatif” Roberta and Twyla’s class differences begin to more evidently unravel in their third encounter when Twyla and Roberta run into each other at Food Emporium, a gourmet food market. This encounter was important in determining their social class difference because up until then it was unknown what turn their financial life had taken. Although they were both shopping at a gourmet food store, they were not in the same wealth status. Twyla was only in there only out of curiosity after receiving a brochure in the mail. It only became clearer that Roberta is of a higher social class when Twyla asks, “You married a Chinaman? ... Servants and all?” (Morrison 9-10). It was not until Twyla was...
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