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.
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.
...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)