Recitatif Essays On Theme


Brittany Schutter Mr. Newman English 101: Rhetoric 13 November, 2014

What the Hell is Maggie‟s Purpose?

Society tries to be aware of people with disabilities but it is still an uncomfortable concept for a lot of people, especially amongst adolescents who have trouble understanding the concept at all. But, as children grow more mature, more of them are able to cope. In the story


, by Toni Morrison, Morrison includes a lot of controversial themes. One theme, having to do with people with disabilities, Morrison uses the character Maggie to bring disability

awareness to two young girls, Twyla and Roberta. Their journey to understanding Maggie‟s

special needs is a topic that author, Howard Sklar, goes very far into depth with in his essay,

“„What the Hell Happened to Maggie?‟”

 Twyla and Roberta's childhood ignorance allows them to disregard Maggie's disabilities and judge her for being different, but as they mature, their realization of her disabilities fill the girls with pity and remorse.


, narrated by the character Twyla, is the story of two young girls who boldly face abandonment together while in an orphanage; after leaving the orphanage they have continuous unexpected encounters while transitioning into their adult lives. Many themes in

“Recitatif” are blurred to the audience but o

ne thing Toni Morrison makes very clear is that the two girls are different races. Twyla reveals this to the audience when she states that she and

Roberta “looked like salt and pepper standing there”

 (Morrison 1), however, what she does not make clear is which girl is which race. Racial acceptance is perhaps the most popular topic discussed from this short story; Twyla and Roberta are able to overcome their difference despite

the fact that Twyla‟s mother had told her that Roberta‟s “kind” “never 

 washed their hair and they

Racism plays a very important role in this story, as Roberta and Twyla are of opposite races. When they are young, they think nothing of it, but they learn from their mothers what it means to discriminate. As they get older, they dislike each other more for who they are, and find it hard to feel sympathy for the opposite race when they are neglected. In the final encounter that they have with each other, we see a conclusion that is much like our own world today; no real ending of their horrible feelings towards each other.

Twyla and Roberta meet each other when they are just little girls in a state home for children without mothers that can take proper care of them. At this point, the children are quite innocent, and the only conflicts they have are silly ones. They see right past the other's race, but only learn what it means to discriminate from the older generations. As the story goes on, we see how each of them loses their youth, and with it comes their innocence, their ability to accept everyone as an equal.

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