Saturday, October 18, 2014


In Toni Morrison's "Recitatif," it is difficult to discern which of the girls, Roberta and Twyla, is black and which is white. I did pick up on what I thought were certain clues as to which is which, but even still I am not 100%. One of the instances that made me think maybe Twyla was white was early in the story, when Twyla notes "it didn't matter that we looked like salt and pepper standing there" (3542). I thought this implied that Twyna was white and Roberta was black, as people generally make a point to put themselves first when speaking. Yet this wasn't absolute proof. When the mothers met, it had me feeling a different way. Roberta's mother does not speak to Twyla or her mother, and has them walk away from her and her mother. This made me think Roberta may be white, as it signifies racism on her mother's part. Another clue was a little further into the story, where Roberta is going to see Jimi Hendrix. I couldn't take much from that, but Morrison later writes, "A black girl and a white girl meeting in a Howard Johnson's on the road and having nothing to say. One in a blue-and-white triangle waitress hat, the other on her way to see Hendrix" (3549). This made me think, since she has it in order, that Twyla is black.

These are just some of clues I picked up on, and I know there are probably way more. Yet from what I interpreted, Twyla was black, and Roberta was white. Thoughts?


  1. You mentioned that the reason you felt Roberta's mom did not shake hands with Twyla's mom was because of racial difference but I thought it was because she disapproved of her dress (tight pants).

  2. Cory,
    Does Morrison want us to know 100%? Can this word ordering tell us much? How often does anyone say "pepper and salt"?