Comparing the Role of Social Class in The Necklace and Recitatif

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The Role of Social Class in The Necklace and Recitatif Often in a piece of literature, a story will appear to be about one issue when, in actuality, the author intended it to be about another. In the short stories "The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant and "Recitatif" by Toni Morrison, the issues of class separation and struggle, though they may appear at first glance to be unimportant, are in fact the central points around which these two stories revolve. In "The Necklace" and "Recitatif," class differences affect the ways in which the characters interact with one another. Nowhere in the story "Recitatif" is this more apparent than in the meeting between Roberta and Twyla's mothers at the orphanage. Twyla describes Roberta's mother as tall, prim, and proper. She adds, "on her chest was the biggest cross I'd ever seen..." (page 213). In direct contrast to this is the image of Twyla's mother, a woman who wears revealing pants and a ragged old jacket and curses in church. Roberta's mother clearly looks down upon Twyla's because she is of a lower class, as illustrated by her refusal to shake her hand. In "The Necklace," class differences between Mathilde and Mme. Forestier put an obvious restriction upon their relationship. By the end of the story, Mathilde becomes a member of the lower class - "the woman of impoverished households - strong and hard and rough..." (page 71). When the two ladies meet again in the last lines of the story, Mme. Forestier is "astonished to be addressed by this plain goodwife" (page 72). In a parallel event from "Recitatif," Roberta looks down upon Twyla when they meet in a Howard Johnson's. She sees Twyla in her "blue-and-white triangle" uniform, "[her] hair shapeless in a net," and "[her] ankle... ... middle of paper ... ... between the characters play the central role in the action of the story. These differences affect the ways in which these characters interact, they create the conflict in the story, and they affect the way the reader feels about and reacts to each of the characters. In making the issue of social class the focus of these two works, the authors successfully communicate to the readers their belief that, no matter how hard we might try to avoid it, class is indeed a major factor in today's society. Works Cited de Maupassant, Guy. "The Necklace." Understanding Fiction . third ed. Eds. Cleanth Brooks and Robeert Penn Warren. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1979. 66-72. Morrison, Toni. "Recitatif." New Worlds of Literature: Writings from America's Many Cultures. second ed. Eds. Jerome Beaty and J. Paul Hunter. New York: Norton, 1994. 209-225.

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