Toni Morrison Recitatif Sparknotes

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Toni Morrison uses “Recitatif”, a short story, to make a play on words for the word “recitative”. The short story tells the seemingly insignificant parts Twyla’s life, including the four times she meets with Roberta. The first time they meet is at St. Bonny’s orphanage, which sets the stage for Morrison to show race in a new way.Morrison utilizes many aspects, including using a child’s viewpoint in the story, contrasting evidence to undermine the reader’s determinations about Twyla’s and Roberta’s race, and the subjective nature of memory, more specifically involving Maggie, to emphasize race as a “social construct”. The first way Morrison shows race as a “social construct” is by having the beginning of “Recitatif” told when Twyla …show more content…

“We were supposed to have lunch in the teachers’ lounge, but Mary didn’t bring anything…”. (pg 135). “I sneaked a look at Roberta. Her mother had brought chicken legs and ham sandwiches and oranges and a whole box of chocolate-covered grahams. Roberta drank milk from a thermos while her mother read the Bible to her (pg 135). When Twyla’s and Roberta’s mothers come to visit the orphanage, Twyla’s mother does not bring any lunch with her. This could show how Twyla’s family is poorer than Roberta’s, making the reader think Twyla is black and Roberta is white. “Me because I couldn’t remember what I read or what the teacher said. And Roberta because she couldn’t read at all and didn’t even listen to the teacher” (pg 132). However, Roberta cannot read or write, so it seems like her family is impoverished and could be black, while Twyla is educated and her family could be white. Morrison uses the contradictory evidence to show how a person’s circumstances, whether rich or poor, educated or not, are not determine merely by the person’s race. Furthermore, this supports the argument that race is a “social construct” because evidence used to determine race that could apply to one racial group, can actually apply to all racial

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