Toni Morrison-lit paper1

Toni Morrison-lit paper1 - Annamarie Sysling October 3,...

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Annamarie Sysling October 3, 2007 Literary Interpretations-Paper 1 (Fiction) Toni Morrison’s “Recitatif” tactically uses an unclear definition of race primarily to reveal the reader’s own biases as well as dismiss these subjectivities to better reveal the very meaning (or lack thereof) of race and the different stereotypes that coincide with it. The colloquial diction in addition to the ever- evolving concept of Maggie are both engaged throughout “Recitatif” to simultaneously display the maturation of the two main characters as well as the effects of society’s perception of racial differences. Toni Morrison employs strategic symbolism as well as other literary devices to reveal the issue of race during the 1960’s as well as its’ eventual ambiguity. The story begins with Twyla (the narrator) being placed in an orphanage (St. Bonny’s) where she is introduced to Roberta; “a girl from a whole other race” (Morrison 202). Immediately it becomes apparent that even at Twyla’s young age this concept of racial-consciousness has been instilled in her, causing apprehension at the very prospect of living with someone of another race. During this period at the orphanage Twyla makes significant observations regarding the world around her in addition to the social-hierarchy present at St. Bonny’s. At this point Maggie is introduced as an “old and sandy-colored” (Morrison 203) mute, while her physical
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Annamarie Sysling October 3, 2007 Literary Interpretations-Paper 1 (Fiction) attributes and racial ambiguity are important, it is also essential to acknowledge her introduction into the story. Not only is Maggie old and incapable of speech but she is abused both mentally and physically by the girls in the orchard. This orchard seems to symbolize the cruelty and barbaric nature of society while the girls (who are closer to adulthood than Twyla and Roberta, thus allowing one to believe that they would act more accordingly to society’s ideologies) ruthlessly abuse Maggie essentially for existing. Twyla even criticizes Maggie for wearing a childish hat with earflaps but says nothing of the older girl’s feigned maturity complete with make-up and dancing. This serves to implicitly portray Twyla’s distorted view of adulthood as
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course LITERARY I 1100 taught by Professor Haskill during the Spring '08 term at Western Michigan.

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Toni Morrison-lit paper1 - Annamarie Sysling October 3,...

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