The theme of Friendship vs. Family in Recitatif from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes
Throughout the story, Maggie serves an uncomfortable edge to the relationship between Twyla and Roberta. This uncomfortable dividing point between the two. The story explores how the relationship between the two main characters is . Twyla and Roberta's relationship gives shape to the plot of the story, which traces . Max Chao English Option 3: Expectations of Race based on Perception The relationship between Twyla and Roberta in “Recitatif” is quite literally a.
Be sure to point out that some of the details in the story tell us more about social class than about race. Enrichment If students are interested in learning more about Toni Morrison, then encourage them to read one of the following Young Adult biographies of Morrison, which are available through most public libraries: Rhodes As students share details from the text to answer the following discussion questions, take notes on the board and have students copy them into their reading journals under the heading Details: Tell the students to look for more details about the girls as they continue to read.
Remind students that the details so far are ambiguous and open to interpretation, so there is no way to know the race of each girl from details in this section of the reading. Lead the students into a discussion about the way people make assumptions about others, basing these assumptions on appearance.
What would you have thought about the mothers if you had met them at the luncheon? Power The other aspect of this story, in addition to race and class, is power. Sometimes people are powerful, and sometimes they are powerless.
People with more power do not always treat those with less power very well. Introduce this concept here, and tell students that power becomes more of an issue as the story continues. Who is the most powerful person at the orphanage? Who has the least power? Help students determine the power structure there. Tell students to make these entries under the headings Predictions: Act 2 and Details: Remind students that while we read, it is normal, even important, to change our minds about characters as we learn more about them.
When we read actively, we alter and support new predictions without feeling as if we are second-guessing ourselves. So, if students are less sure of their earlier predictions as they read more, they should see this as a positive learning experience. Tell students that this is why they are writing so many predictions as they read.
Characterization Ask students to brainstorm independently the ways that an author can give us information about a character.
Prompt students with examples such as physical descriptions and dialogue. After a few minutes, have students share their ideas, and list these on the board. Some examples are she was very shy and people thought he was a snob. Indirect characterization, on the other hand, occurs when the author describes the character and expects us to make an inference about his or her personality.
Some examples are she kept her head down and tried to disappear into the wall so nobody would notice her or he strutted past them with his nose in the air. Have your students write these terms and definitions in their reading journals and then offer additional examples of direct and indirect characterization. Review the list of ways that authors use to share information about a character. Have the class decide whether each item on the list is direct characterization or indirect characterization.
Characterization Activity Divide the class into small groups, and distribute highlighters of various colors. Have students practice skimming and scanning as they return to Act 2. Ask them to use two different colors to highlight examples of indirect and direct characterization. When they have finished, ask them to discuss why it is important to use both kinds of characterization.
Ask students to write two short descriptions of a friend or family member. One should use direct characterization and the other should use indirect characterization.
After they have completed their descriptions, ask students why they might use one form of characterization instead of the other.
Toni Morrison’s “Recitatif”
Power Revisited Tell students that, in this act, the author provides more details about the girls, but she also shows us how their relationship has changed. How are they different now, and what does this tell us about their social class and possibly their race?
Be sure discussion includes mention of these points. Twyla works at a restaurant near a highway. She has never heard of Jimi Hendrix. Roberta is traveling across the country to see Jimi Hendrix. Roberta wears a powder-blue halter top, matching shorts, and huge earrings. She also wears a lot of makeup. Twyla wears her waitress uniform: Twyla is serving food, and Roberta is a customer at the restaurant.
Jimi Hendrix was part of a very specific moment in American culture, and his performance at Woodstock is something many people remember when they think about the late s and early s. Play a short clip of that performance, if possible. When Roberta and Twyla were at the orphanage, neither of them had much power.
Both were near the bottom of the pecking order. When they meet as young women, the balance of power has changed.
Ask the students to consider the following questions and decide who has the most power in this encounter. In their reading journals, have them make entries under the headings Direct Characterization and Indirect Characterization.
They should list examples of both types of characterization that they find in Act 3. Act 3 Reading Journal Act 3 Before beginning discussion, give students five minutes to make an entry in their reading journals under the heading Prediction: Have them answer this question: According to the information in this act, which woman do you think is black and which is white?
Tell students to support their conclusions with details from Act 3, placing their responses under the heading Details: If they can stay on task, organize students in groups of three or four and tell them to examine Act 3 for the following information.
Otherwise, hold this discussion with the entire class. Each group should answer these questions. Refer to the reading journal entries that you completed for homework and in class. What leads you to this conclusion? If students have been working in literature circles, bring them back into a full-class discussion. Before you introduce these discussion questions, read aloud the part of the story in which Twyla realizes that her memory of the incident in the orchard has changed.
Students should pick up on the statement in Act 1 that Twyla now feels ashamed about the way she treated Maggie.
Toni Morrison, Recitatif | English JMWE Spring Great Works of World Literature
Why do you think they called her names? The day she fell down and those gar girls laughed at her? Is it possible for a memory to change over time? How do you think Roberta feels? What information leads you to this conclusion? Did yours ever get well? For homework, ask students to write informal essays about a situation in which someone they know either bullied another person or was bullied. The rubric appears on page Tell students that, in order to preserve privacy, they should use fictitious names for the people in their essays.
Assure them that they will not have to share the essays with the class.
Students should also reread Act 4 and make prediction and detail entries in their reading journals under the headings Predictions: Act 4 and Details: Act 4 Act 4 Historical Perspective Ask students to define these terms: When they have finished, have a few students share the standard definitions.
Ask students to keep these terms in mind as they read the rest of the story. Reading Journal Give students the opportunity to freewrite about the video clips. Possible topics include describing how the footage made them feel, recording other information about the Civil Rights movement, and expressing whether students believe that segregation and discrimination still exist.
Discussion Bring the class together for discussion. Unlike race, Morrison explicitly describes that Twyla was the one who went on to live a middle class lifestyle and Roberta went on to marry a rich guy and have servants. This is important because the story starts off with the two girls having a lot in common, from their mothers all the way to them failing the same classes and as they grow up and start living in the society that is racist, they become different.
She adds the difference of class in the story to differentiate the two even more and give us a perspective of racial divide.
May 16, at Give at least two examples. The mothers of Roberta and Twyla give the reader some background of their lives, and how it affects them in the future. Each one of them strives to be the mother that they did not have and fears becoming the mother that they did have.
Maternity is explored in the third encounter between Twyla and Roberta where they exchange details of their married life and children. Roberta did not give birth to her children but Twyla did and that portrays a much closer connection to motherhood.
Her life seems to be more distant and cold. Twyla gave birth to her children thus creating a much stronger connection to them and the feeling of motherhood. She is part of the middle class where people seem to be more family oriented and tight knit, and that portrays a much warmer image than that of a higher class.
Another part of the story where motherhood is explored is in the issues Roberta and Twyla have with Maggie, a servant girl. They both see Maggie as a representation of their mothers. The mothers that were not there to care for them or provide anything, not even love. Their ability to see their mothers in this woman led to their hatred towards her and their desire to hurt her.
Theses that arise without her presence and the types of actions it motivates. May 16, at 4: I think Morrison chooses not to be explicit about their races is because she wants her readers to figure out their races just by look at their conversations and actions. Since each reader has his or her own perspective and expectation of who should acts in what way, which is their prejudice, their races seem do not have a great impacts. In the meanwhile, by not telling their races, the author is also able to shows her readers her mean points beyond the race.
However, the race seems do not have a roles in the story actually plays a significant role. The main characters do not have a perspective of their races and their lives seem do not impact by their races when they were in their childhood, Yet as story continued on, they actually do got affect by their races. May 17, at 6: Morrison is trying to prove a point by intentionally hiding the race of the girls.
English 2850 JMWE Spring 2016: Great Works of World Literature
He wants readers to make their own assumptions about which girl is which race. By analyzing their own assumptions, they will realize their own reasoning. Morrison is trying to show that stereotyping is wrong and that people can not be differentiated just by their skin color.
May 18, at In reality race should never matter and we are all human. I like that he did not tell us who is who and just left us guessing. May 20, at I think it is better to not be explicit about their race. If the audience knows which girl is African American and which girl is Caucasian, they will look at them with prejudice. This will make Morrison more difficult to tell us what he wants to say through the story.
They disagree because race is something neither of them had taken into account when their friendship was being considered. May 22, at I think Morrison chooses not to be explicit about which girl is African American and which girl is Caucasian is try to make us focus on the issue of class not race and against stereotypes about white people and black people.
Honestly, half the time when I am reading this text, I try to figure out which girl is black and which girl is white by the descriptions that the narrator gives us. However, the description that the narrator gives out is not clear enough to point out the race, which makes me confuse about their races.
May 22, at 6: I think that the main reason as to why she never disclosed any race throughout the story is to make us assess our own stereotypes and biases. She draws our own attention as to how we make the determination as to who is White and who is Black. She wants us to find similarities and differences between the two characters and how that makes us determines their race.