Find a few of your favorite examples of lyrical writing from “Recitatif.” Choose one or two of these and analyze the language, imagery, or simply the sounds of the words (in the way you might explicate a poem). (This is also called “close reading.”) Discuss the significance of the passage (or passages) in relation to the major themes of the story (for example vulnerability, friendship, loyalty, race, sexuality, childhood, motherhood) of the novel.
How does Twyla (the narrator) fight back against the hurts she experiences? How does Morrison use humor to vary the tone of this story? If this story were to continue, what do you think might happen in the next hour? The next few months or years?
The narrator, Twyla has a very interesting voice. She seems to be telling the stories of her life in a stream of thought fashion. She just says what comes to her mind right in the moment. Her phrases aren’t well though out, but she does get her point across. She doesn’t speak in grammatically correct sentences or with perfect sentence structure. I like this style of writing because it’s more natural’ it’s how you talk when you’re with your friends or family. Twyla’s character feels more real and believable based on the way she tells her story.
I think the most major theme of this story is race. The big question is who is black and who is white? At some points of the story, race doesn’t matter to these two girls. As they get older it does matter, at least to Roberta it seems to matter more. Twyla has an innocence about her and doesn’t understand Roberta fully. In the beginning of the story Twyla says, “It was one thing to be taken out of your own bed early in the morning–it was something else to be stuck in a strange place with a girl from a whole other race. And Mary, that’s my mother, she was right. Every now and then she would stop dancing long enough to tell me something important and one of the things she said was that they never washed their hair and they smelled funny. Roberta sure did. Smell funny, I mean.” And that is the extent of it; they become best friends and race doesn’t matter.