Reply To: Toni Morrison, “Recitatif”

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Iris Kang

This short story by Toni Morrison was very moving and eye-opening for me. I read Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” a few years ago and really appreciated its depth and complexity, but I also appreciate how this particular short story takes on similar issues of racial inequality through the lens of a different time period. The techniques that Morrison used in this story, including changing syntax and word structure to reflect Twyla’s changing perspective from childhood to motherhood, contributed greatly to her ability to tackle the constant issue of poverty and racial inequality in various different angles from stages of life. Furthermore, I really appreciated how Morrison was able to contrast the life experiences of Twyla and Roberta through each phase by recounting their coincidental meetings. Through these encounters, Morrison highlighted the apparent disparity between the two women’s life changes–two women who started with very similar experiences in a shelter but who ended up on very different paths. It really brought into immediacy how opportunities for improving one’s socioeconomic well-being (including health, jobs, security, etc.) are heavily dictated by one’s race. In the end, I think Morrison wanted to show that these two women are still at their core remnants of the girls who were inconsciencely trying to break free from the society’s unjust structural chains of racial inequality.