Writing on Women Writers

A site for college students to write about women writers.


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Toni Morrison 

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In Morrison’s story Recitatif she shows the lives of two young girls Twyla and Roberta who are in St. Bonny’s. One of the girls is black and one  is white. Morrison never reveals which girl is which race she leaves that for the reader to interpret.

This is part of their last encounter with each other.

 “It’s about St. Bonny’s and Maggie.”

 “Oh, please.”

 “Listen to me. I really did think she was black. I didn’t make that up. I

really thought so. But now I can’t be sure. I just remember her as old, so

old. And because she couldn’t talk- well, you know, I thought she was

crazy. She’d been brought up in an institution like my mother was and like I

thought I would be too. And you were right. We didn’t kick her. It was the

gar girls. Only them. But, well, I wanted to. I really wanted them to hurt her.

I said we did it, too. You and me, but that’s not true. And I don’t want you to

carry that around. It was just that I wanted to do it so bad that day-wanting

to is doing it“(1236-1237).

During this encounter the realization of it not mattering which girl is which race. They both wanted to join in with the tormenting of Maggie. This, makes the race of the characters no longer matter. They are two girls who met at the wrong time in history. They both had their own perspectives on things.  Roberta believed that Maggie was black while Twyla remembers her not being black. Both perspectives in the story can be of  a black or white person.

Us as readers go through these encounters with these two women and with our own racial stereotypes trying to figure out which race belongs to which character. In the end as readers we find out that it does not matter which race belongs to who. We realize that they were just children both  who met at an orphanage and became friends. There meeting and being friends was out of chance.When they meet its a time where black and white children are not and could not be friends. In the second encounter again in a time where their friendship would of been looked down upon.  The fact that Roberta due to issues of race and wealth snubbed Twyla during their first encounter in the diner hurt Twyla. She seemed to have no understanding of why they could not be friends like they once were.

Their friendship would not be able to work out even with a someone like Twyla who doesn’t see the difference that race and class. To her it truly did not matter, but in the end society made it matter. In this last encounter when it no longer mattered they finally were able to sit down and talk.  Admit that due to the previous times they couldn’t be friends. Also, due to those times they both wanted to torment Maggie. Be prejudice against people who were different. Now they could talk about the one thing that had always reunited them Maggie and their mothers.

In today’s world one would think we may not be as prejudice about some things, but we still are very prejudice.  We have our first black president and still there are those who are prejudice.  We are in a time where the realization of everyone is equal should kick in, but sadly there are still people out there that can not get past the color of someones skin.

An example of people in today’s world who have gotten past this are Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. They have adopted children from all over the world. When their kids grow up they are not going to have the same encounters Roberta and Twyla had. They are going to see each other as family and accept one another the way they are. Not as children of different races and backgrounds.


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