Recitatif: Toni Morrison

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In 1983, Toni Morrison published the only short story she would ever create. The controversial story conveys an important idea of what race is and if it really matter in the scheme of life. This story takes place during the time period of the Civil Rights Movement. The idea of civil rights was encouraged by the government but not enforced by the states, leaving many black Americans suffering every day. In Morrison’s short story Recitatif, Morrison manipulates the story’s diction to describe the two women’s races interchangeably resulting in the confusion of the reader. Because Morrison never establishes the “black character” or the “white character”, the reader is left guessing the race of the two main characters throughout the whole story. Morrison also uses the character’s actions and dialogue during the friend’s meetings to prove the theme of equality between races.
Morrison uses the awkwardness of the two women’s meetings combined with the words spoken by the women to portray the confusion of race throughout the story. The first meeting was at Saint Bonaventure when they were roommates. Twyla’s mother was “always dancing” as a stripper and Roberta’s mother was a well off business woman “who was always sick” (Morrison) as Roberta would say. In the time period of the story, it would have made sense that a black mother would not have had a good paying job as a business woman. Because of this, one would think that Twyla was the black child while Roberta was the white one. Also, both girls’ mothers come to visit St. Bonny’s one day. Morrison focuses on the interaction between the grown women. Twyla’s mother, Mary, is dressed inappropriately and Roberta’s mother is dressed very well with “an enormous cross on her even more enormou...

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