Role and Identity in Toni Morrison's, Recitatif

Pages: 3 (652 words) Published: April 28, 2014
Mackenzie Thurmond
Dr. Rob. Bleil
World Literature II
April 25, 2014

Role and Identity
“If there’s a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” (Morrison). In reading Toni Morrison’s short story “Recitatif,” there are several things that Morrison does for her readers that allow us to relate and make the story our own. Morrison is a prime example of how language and translation play a role in the reader’s experience and what the reader takes away from the story. In “Recitatif” Morrison also helps the reader understand how much the past affects one’s future.

“The past is never dead, it’s not even past.” (William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun).The way in which Toni Morrison begins “Recitatif” is crucial to understand the entire story. It is just as Faulkner has said in the aforementioned quote; the past is never dead. Twyla and Roberta have both been dramatically affected by their past and the stereotypes others have planted. Before Twyla and Roberta even got to talk more than a few words, Twyla had assumptions about Roberta, ideas constructed by her past. This is ever true for each of us.Based on the experiences and circumstances we previously endured, we mold our future. Our individuality is mainly based on others in that because of what others inflict on us or walk with us through, we build our future. We are but the summation of our past. Both girls may have had already formed ideas about each other. However the reader cannot do the same. Morrison does not allow the reader to know which character is white and which is black. She does this to portray the difference between necessary characteristics and accidental characteristics. By not know which girl is which race, we cannot make automatic assumptions, this is known as accidental characteristics. Accidental characteristics are not provided in a story but assumed, and dramatically affect perception. A necessary characteristic is purposely revealed in hopes that...
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