Recitatif

Recitatif Characters

Twyla

Twyla is the narrator of the story, and along with Roberta is its main character. She is eight years old when the story opens, and has been brought to live at St. Bonny’s because her… (read full character analysis)

Roberta

The other main character of the story. When Roberta arrives at St. Bonny’s, she is assigned to be Twyla’s roommate. The two girls are both eight years old, and one is white and one… (read full character analysis)

Maggie

Introduced as a minor character, Maggie comes to take on a central—if mysterious—significance within the story. The children at St. Bonny’s refer to her as the “kitchen woman,” and Twyla’s initial description of her… (read full character analysis)

Big Bozo

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… (read full character analysis)

Mary (Twyla’s Mother)

Mary is Twyla’s mother, who is introduced in the first sentence of the story when Twyla explains she is in St. Bonny’s because “my mother danced all night.” Throughout the story, Twyla uses this… (read full character analysis)
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Roberta’s Mother

Unlike Mary, Roberta’s mother is never named, and the details of her character remains vague. She is described as “sick,” though it is unclear what she suffers from and possible that it is a… (read full character analysis)

The Gar Girls (The Older Girls)

Roberta and Twyla call the teenage girls at St. Bonny’s the gar girls, based on Roberta’s misunderstanding of the word “gargoyles.” The gar girls wear makeup, dance to the radio, and smoke cigarettes in the… (read full character analysis)

Joseph Benson

Joseph is the son of James and Twyla. We learn little about him, other than that he doesn’t seem to mind being bused to another school, prefers to watch TV rather than study at… (read full character analysis)

Jimi Hendrix

Although Jimi Hendrix does not make an active appearance in the story, Roberta and her two male friends are supposedly on their way to see him when they stop by at Howard Johnson’s. Hendrix was… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
Kenneth Norton
Kenneth is the rich husband of Roberta and father of her four stepchildren. A widower, he comes from the wealthy suburb Annandale and works, according to Roberta, in “computers and stuff.”
James Benson
Twyla's husband, whom she describes as "wonderful" and "as comfortable as a house slipper." He comes from a stable family that has lived in the town of Newburgh for generations.