The Short Story "Recitatif" by Toni Morrison

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The Short Story "Recitatif" by Morrison

The short story by Morrison, “Recitatif”, tells about two characters: Twyla and Roberta, who are two good friends living in a shelter. Twyla lives in the shelter because her mother always goes for dancing while Roberta stays in the shelter because her mother is sick. The two ladies care about each other but are frequently drifted apart by racial issues, especially about a past event in their lives that involved the kitchen staff member at the shelter called Maggie. Several encounters later in their lives continue to cause the drift which is usually resolved immediately after their next encounter while creating a new one thereafter. However, the story ends with the two ladies reconciling on the bone of contention in both Maggie’s story and general “black-white” racial issues.

Racism as a Theme

The racism topic is a theme that is clearly seen from the events narrated by Morrison. Additionally, hatred, malice, and regret are themes that the narrator has covered in the story. Racism is a strong issue of concern that can lead to unnecessary division between people who care about each other to the extent of creating an end to the loyal friendship. As seen in Morrison’s story, Twyla and Roberto cared about each other but quarreled based on racial lines, which affected their friendship at all times. Analyzing Roberto’s life indicates the impact of hate and malice to people around an affected person; that hatred can result in anger which is usually lashed out on people we care about. Roberto hates herself for not taking action during Maggie’s fall and uses her hate and anger to lash out on Twyla every time they meet. Twyla on the other hand also regrets on not acting during Maggie’s fall simply because she had consumed hate for people of her opposite race.

The Strength of Relationships

From the story, it is completely wrong to build hatred on foundations of race and anger for oneself. Relationships are powerful and need to be protected from negative energy at all times because, from the story, the friendship between the two ladies survived the harsh times due to its strength.

Works Cited

Morrison, Toni. Recitatif. (1983)

November 24, 2023



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Short Story

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