Recitatif Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Recitatif Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Symbol for depravation

When Twyla’s mother comes to visit her, she is dressed in a pair of green pants and a fur coat described by Twyla as being vulgar. Twyla is just a young girl, maybe eight or nine years old but despite her young age, she knows when her mother behaves in a way she should not have behaved. Thus, the way Mary, Twyla’s mother, dressed in this scene it is used as a symbol for depravation.

Judged by the other orphans

Twyla and Roberta were different from the other orphans because their parents were not dead, but rather they were incapable of taking care of their children. Because of this, the ‘’real’’ orphans regarded the two girls with distain since they were, in their opinion, frauds who had nothing to do with the orphanage. The idea that Twyla and Roberta are judged for their status as non-orphans is a common motif in the novel.

Symbol for adulthood

The orchard is an important place in Twyla and Roberta’s life as they often spend hours looking at the older girls in the orchard dancing, smoking, and hearing them talk about sex and other topics. The orchard is also the place where Twyla and Roberta and witnesses to violent acts and thus in a way, the orchard symbolizes depravation and the change that comes with adulthood.

Klondike Bars

Twyla mentions how soon after she got married, a gourmet shop opened in her neighborhood. Because Twyla and her family had modest means, the only things she could afford to buy were Klondike Bars which her family enjoyed eating. The bars are used here as a symbol for Twyla’s family modest means and for their lack of selfish desires.


Twyla meets with Roberta one more time in the gourmet shop opened in the neighborhood where Twyla was living. While Twyla was buying chocolate bars, the only thing she can afford, Roberta buys asparagus and "fancy water’.’ The asparagus and ‘’fancy water’’ are used here as a symbol for wealth and for prosperity.

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