Recitatif

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Although her official title is never revealed, Big Bozo—whose real name is Mrs. Itkin—is in charge of the shelter, and assigns Twyla and Roberta to be roommates. When Twyla mentions her mother would object to the assignment, Big Bozo replies “Good… maybe then she’ll come and take you home.” The children dislike Big Bozo, and Twyla notes that the only time she saw her smile was the morning that Twyla and Roberta’s mothers came to visit (although this smile disappears when Twyla accidentally spills jelly beans on the floor). Years later, Roberta reveals that after the gar girls kicked Maggie in the orchard, Big Bozo was fired. During the protests over busing, Twyla exclaims that the mothers protesting integration are “Bozos,” to which Roberta replies, “No, they’re not. They’re just mothers.” Big Bozo represents the loveless authoritarianism that the children at St. Bonny’s must endure as a result of not being raised by their own parents; however, the story suggests that sometimes real parents can be just as unpleasant.
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Big Bozo Character Timeline in Recitatif

The timeline below shows where the character Big Bozo appears in Recitatif. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Recitatif
Friendship vs. Family Theme Icon
Outsiders, Outcasts, and the Unwanted Theme Icon
Sickness and Disability Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
Race and Prejudice Theme Icon
...that people of Roberta’s race never washed their hair and “smelled funny.” Twyla tells “ Big Bozo ,” the woman who runs the orphanage, that Mary would object to Twyla sharing a... (full context)
Friendship vs. Family Theme Icon
Outsiders, Outcasts, and the Unwanted Theme Icon
Sickness and Disability Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
Race and Prejudice Theme Icon
After Big Bozo leaves, Roberta asks Twyla if her mother is sick too; Twyla responds that her mother... (full context)
Friendship vs. Family Theme Icon
Outsiders, Outcasts, and the Unwanted Theme Icon
Sickness and Disability Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
Twyla recalls that Big Bozo was “disappointed” in her and Roberta, because they were the only children at St. Bonny’s... (full context)
Friendship vs. Family Theme Icon
Outsiders, Outcasts, and the Unwanted Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
...she will die in the room with four beds without her, but also knows that Big Bozo is planning to “move some other dumped kid” to be Twyla’s roommate. Roberta promises to... (full context)
Friendship vs. Family Theme Icon
Outsiders, Outcasts, and the Unwanted Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
Race and Prejudice Theme Icon
...car is being driven by a Chinese chauffeur, and the two women laugh imagining what Big Bozo would think if she could see them now. (full context)
Outsiders, Outcasts, and the Unwanted Theme Icon
Sickness and Disability Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
...this is what happened and that she and Twyla had been frightened. Roberta continues that Big Bozo was fired, which she knew because she returned to St Bonny’s twice after leaving. During... (full context)
Friendship vs. Family Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
Race and Prejudice Theme Icon
...are “swarming all over the place like they own it” and claiming that they are “Bozos.” Roberta replies that they are in fact “just mothers,” and the women begin bickering again. (full context)