Essays On Recitatif

Essays On Recitatif-30
At Howard Johnson's, Roberta symbolically "kicks" Twyla by treating her coldly and laughing at her lack of sophistication.

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" The reader is left wondering not just about the answer, but also about the meaning of the question.

Is it asking what happened to Maggie after the children left the orphanage?

And, what, if anything, do our answers to these questions suggest to us about the struggles of building bridges across divides in America? What makes it possible for us to connect to others? How do we connect with those who are different from us? Is your sense of individual identity ever in conflict with your community?

Morrison's quick, powerful narrative style and hard-hitting ending draw the reader in as she examines varying shades of skin tone, perception, and interpretation. How do we learn to have dialogue across difference? Is difference a problem, an opportunity, a challenge or a gift?

Maggie had been brought up in an institution, just like Roberta's mother, so she must have presented a frightening vision of Roberta's possible future.

To see the older girls kick Maggie — the future Roberta didn’t want — must have seemed like exorcising a demon.If the girls are cruel, perhaps it's because every girl in the shelter is also an outsider, shut out from the mainstream world of families taking care of children, so they turn their scorn toward someone who is even further in the margins than they are.As children whose parents are alive but can't or won't take care of them, Twyla and Roberta are outsiders even within the shelter.As Twyla and Roberta encounter each other sporadically through the years, their memories of Maggie seem to play tricks on them.One remembers Maggie as black, the other as white, but eventually, neither feels sure.She yells that Twyla "kicked a poor old black lady when she was down on the ground...You kicked a black lady who couldn't even scream." Twyla finds herself less troubled by the accusation of violence — she feels confident that she would never have kicked anyone — than by the suggestion that Maggie was black, which undermines her confidence completely.Toni Morrison's short story, "Recitatif," appeared in 1983 in "Confirmation: An Anthology of African American Women." It is Morrison's only published short story, though excerpts of her novels have sometimes been published as stand-alone pieces in magazines, such as "Sweetness," excerpted from her 2015 novel "God Help the Child." The two main characters in the story, Twyla and Roberta, are troubled by the memory of the way they treated — or wanted to treat — Maggie, one of the workers in the orphanage where they spent time as children."Recitatif" ends with one character sobbing, "What the hell happened to Maggie?It is only when they are much older, with stable families and a clear recognition that Roberta has achieved greater financial prosperity than Twyla, that Roberta can finally break down and wrestle, at last, with the question of what happened to Maggie.uses cookies to personalize content, tailor ads and improve the user experience.


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