Twyla soon finds that Roberta is understanding and sympathetic ..
The idea of superior feelings stems from Morrison pointing out the fact that Roberta's mother looks down at Twyla and Mary after previously acknowledging her significant height.
Twyla and Roberta are reminded o their dierences on …
The confusion between class and race also arises when readers encounter the scene in which Twyla and Roberta face off on opposite sides of the issue of mandatory busing for school desegregation. Roberta stands opposed to busing; Twyla then counter-protests in favor of it. Does Roberta oppose busing because she opposes desegregation? If so, is her opinion related to her race? If so, is her race white or black? Many blacks have opposed busing, desegregation, or both; readers with a reasonably sophisticated understanding of the civil rights era know they cannot assume that her opposition to busing means she is a white racist. Readers also must consider whether Roberta, who by this time has acquired the trappings—and presumably the attitudes—of affluence, opposes busing on the grounds that her children will be sent to inferior schools. Her convictions about busing might be entirely unrelated to race. When it becomes clear that Twyla’s stance stems more from her resentment of Roberta than from her own political opinions, readers cannot derive more insight from the situation.
Twyla remembers St. Bonny’s orchard in particular but she doesn’t know why it stands out in her memory. She recounts an incident in which Maggie, a mute woman who worked at St. Bonny’s kitchen, fell down in the orchard and the big girls laughed at her. Twyla reports that she and Roberta did nothing to help her. They called her names and she ignored them, perhaps because she was deaf, but Twyla thinks not and, looking back, she is ashamed.
Friendships tend to change over time, for better or worse
Twyla is the main character and also the narrator of the story. She describes the events in the first person, from her own perspective, and the events are presented as Twyla remembers them. One of the places where point of view is most pivotal is in terms of memories of Maggie. Early in the story, Twyla describes her memories of the orchard. At first she claims that “nothing really happened there. Nothing all that important, I mean,” then goes on to describe how one day the orphanage’s mute kitchen women, Maggie, fell down in the orchard and the big girls laughed at her. But as the story progresses it becomes clearer and clearer that this event was very significant to both Twyla and Roberta and to their relationship with one another. Twyla’s memories of the incident are challenged when Roberta reports first that the big girls had pushed Maggie down, and then later not only that the two of them had joined in and kicked her, but that Maggie was black. Since Roberta had shared with Twyla this important and formative time at the orphanage, her differing recollections shake Twyla’s confidence in her own ability to remember accurately, but also feed her existing distrust of Roberta.
Compare and Contrasts of “Recitatif” Essay Example for …
divides Twyla and Roberta again and again, and Morrison’s unconventional approach to character description suggests that it is the way that blacks and whites are defined (and define themselves) against each other that leads to this divide.
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Mary is Twyla’s mother. Twyla has to stay at St. Bonny’s because Mary cannot take care of her. According to Twyla, this is due to the fact that Mary “danced all night.” Mary is pretty and affectionate but she is an irresponsible and neglectful mother. She is contrasted to Roberta’s mother, who is large, stern, and judgmental.
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Roberta is Twyla’s friend and she is also the source of the main conflict of the story. The two girls meet while they are staying at an orphanage, though both of their mothers are living. Roberta’s mother is a stern, religious woman who is too sick to care for her. The fact that both girls have mothers who are unable to care for them is central to their connection and sympathy. Despite this bond, their racial difference causes the friendship to founder. Roberta snubs Twyla the first time they see each other years after leaving the orphanage. She is warm to her the next time they meet, after another twelve years have passed and Roberta has married a wealthy executive. But now that both Roberta and Twyla are themselves mothers, their racially determined opposition is exhibited through their different positions in the busing controversy that takes over their town. Their conflict is further symbolized through their differing memories of Maggie, a racially ambiguous mute woman who worked at the orphanage.