Recitatif Essay

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Madsen Hardy has a doctorate in English literature and is a freelance writer and editor. In the following essay, she discusses the figure of Maggie, the mute kitchen woman, as the story's most important metaphor.

"What the hell happened to Maggie?" Rather than offering a traditional resolution, Toni Morrison's short story "Recitatif" concludes with this question. Maggie—the mute, bowlegged kitchen woman at the orphanage where the story's two main characters, Twyla and Roberta, were raised—haunts their adult lives and their relationship to one another. Neither of the girls ever knew Maggie well or even had much contact with her. And neither of them ever saw her again after leaving St. Bonny's. But the issue of what happened to Maggie—literally and figuratively—recurs at many of the plot's main turning points. At several junctures Twyla, the narrator, reevaluates an incident in which...

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This section contains 1,681 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Recitatif Study Guide
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Short Stories for Students
Recitatif from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.