“Recitatif” is the only short story written by novelist Toni Morrison the 1993 Nobel Laureate. Before you read the story (or during your reading or afterwards) you should understand the origin of the title “Recitatif”. It is a French word whose Latin root recitare is the same root for the word recite. And if you look up the word “recite” you will get “to repeat from memory, to narrate or give an account of.” And since this short story is told from the viewpoint of Twyla, one of the protagonists who recounts events — it is indeed a memory.
However, Toni Morrison is doing something additional with the title. “Recitatif” also refers to movements in music and like the traditional five sections of an opera, Morrison’s story can represent “acts” for each time the two protagonists meet. Some of their meetings happen years apart and we can see through their conversations the changes that have taken place in their individual lives — and in their relationship to each other — since their childhood years. Finally “Recitatif” is about the rhythmic circles of race since we are told one character is white and one character is black but we are never told who is which.
AFTER you have read ”Recitatif” follow the [A], [B], [C] directives below for the
Remember to cite text from the short story to support your response. Your grade will suffer if you go to the internet looking for analysis. The point of this assignment is to get your thoughts as a reader – something TM and myself would appreciate.
[A]: Which of the five events (the five sections of the story) do you think really defines the relationship between the two females? Why?
[B]: What reading experience do you think Toni Morrison wants us to have when she tells us her two characters are of different races but does not tell us who is which race?
[C]: Does the story still have a focus if we cannot assign a race to the two main characters?
FIRST POST YOUR ANSWERS TO [A] [B] [C] ABOVE THEN COMMENT ON ONE CLASSMATE’S POST