Recitatif Essay Questions

Essay Questions

  1. 1

    Why does the author start out the book with Twyla and Roberta as children? Why are they at a state home instead of at a normal house?

    In the beginning of the book, we see both Twyla and Roberta as innocent children of opposite races. Their youth plays an important role in the story, because it shows what people should act like, not discriminating against others. Both of the girls are at a state home because their mothers could not provide proper care for them, and the fact that they are there instead of somewhere else plays a huge role in the story. For one, they meet Maggie, who is also black. She is old and cannot talk, working as the kitchen cook. Later in the story, we see that Maggie plays as a symbol for acceptance but also as a way for one of the girls to scrutinize the other. Also, both of them being in the home help them draw ties between each other, since being in the same situation makes them even closer friends.

  2. 2

    Why is the story divided into encounters instead of chapters or no divisions at all?

    Recitatif is divided into encounters, showing the girls at different times and at a different age. Each encounter is very different from the other, and it shows what age can do to a person. When they are young, they are great friends. When they are teenagers, they dont't like how the other is living, and when they are married, they look back on all of the great things they have done. When they get older, however, they develop more tensions. The author probably divided the story up this way to give the reader a more accurate description of the time that has passed, and how the girls didn't really keep in touch with each other, although they wanted to.

  3. 3

    Why doesn't the author say who is black and who is white?

    Because it isn't important. The author wanted to stress this as much as possible, and this is a great way of doing it. Although we can infer who is who, the only way we could do this is to use unfair stereotypes for each of the races. The race of Roberta and Twyla aren't specifically mentioned, so the reader has to use their own opinions to only think who is who, but in the end it doesn't matter.

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