"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.
From the very first paragraph of the narrative, I noticed that there were several details that the narrator mentioned that required further, deeper thought. For me, this is what made the story appealing.
At the beginning of the story, Twyla introduces her mother as Mary and claims that she was placed at St. Bonny's because her mother "danced all night." By calling her mother by her first name, Twyla reveals that she doesn't really consider Mary as her mother. I believe Twyla's feelings toward her mother play an important role in the way she reacts to the experiences she faces throughout the rest of the story. Her comments and actions when Mary visits her show that she is somewhat ashamed of her mother and by the fact that she chose to abandon her, unlike the "real orphans with beautiful dead parents in the sky"(468). This draws a connection between Twyla and Roberta; since Roberta's mother is still living too, they both feel as though they share something with Porter 2
each other that the other orphans wouldn't understand.
The incident with Maggie is also tied in with Twyla's relationship with her mother. I discovered towards the end of the story that she considered Maggie her "dancing mother"(480), and she wanted to kick her because she knew she couldn't scream, and that would be her way of getting even and making her mother feel the way she did-- helpless and alone.
I believe that Twyla had the impression that her mother was racist, and that this was the basis for Twyla being...
Cited: New Worlds of Literature. 2nd Edition. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1994 (pp 467-482)
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