Recitatif

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 mental, rather than physical, illness. When she arrives to visit Roberta at St. Bonny’s, Twyla describes her as “bigger than any man,” wearing an enormous cross and carrying a Bible. In contrast to Mary, Roberta’s mother is deeply religious and serious. Later in the story, Roberta reveals that her mother was raised in an “institution” and that Roberta expected to be, too. In the final scene, Roberta sadly admits that her mother never got better.

Roberta’s Mother Quotes in Recitatif

The Recitatif quotes below are all either spoken by Roberta’s Mother or refer to Roberta’s Mother. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Friendship vs. Family Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the HarperCollins edition of Recitatif published in 1998.
Recitatif Quotes

My mother danced all night and Roberta’s was sick. That’s why we were taken to St. Bonny’s.

Related Characters: Twyla (speaker), Roberta, Mary (Twyla’s Mother), Roberta’s Mother
Related Symbols: Dance
Page Number: 203
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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I thought if my dancing mother met her sick mother it might be good for her. And Roberta thought her sick mother would get a big bang out of a dancing one. We got excited about it and curled each other's hair.

Related Characters: Twyla (speaker), Roberta, Mary (Twyla’s Mother), Roberta’s Mother
Related Symbols: Dance
Page Number: 207
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

I brought a painted sign in queenly red with huge black letters that said, IS YOUR MOTHER WELL?. Roberta took her lunch break and didn't come back for the rest of the day or any day after. Two days later I stopped going too and couldn't have been missed because nobody understood my signs anyway.

Related Characters: Twyla (speaker), Roberta, Roberta’s Mother
Related Symbols: Protest Signs
Page Number: 223-224
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

"Did I tell you? My mother, she never did stop dancing."
"Yes. You told me. And mine, she never got well." Roberta lifted her hands from the tabletop and covered her face with her palms. When she took them away she really was crying. "Oh, shit, Twyla. Shit, shit, shit. What the hell happened to Maggie?"

Related Characters: Twyla (speaker), Roberta (speaker), Maggie, Mary (Twyla’s Mother), Roberta’s Mother
Related Symbols: Dance
Page Number: 227
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Roberta’s Mother Character Timeline in Recitatif

The timeline below shows where the character Roberta’s Mother 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
...Roberta were in a shelter called St. Bonny’s because Twyla’s mother “danced all night” and Roberta’s mother was “sick.” Twyla says that people often feel pity for her when they learn she... (full context)
Friendship vs. Family Theme Icon
Sickness and Disability Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
Race and Prejudice Theme Icon
...briefly forgets about Roberta, until Roberta comes to introduce her mother to Twyla and Mary. Roberta’s mother is “bigger than any man,” wearing an enormous cross and carrying a huge Bible. Mary... (full context)
Friendship vs. Family Theme Icon
Outsiders, Outcasts, and the Unwanted Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
Race and Prejudice Theme Icon
...brought anything to eat for lunch, and Twyla again thinks, “I could have killed her.” Roberta’s mother , meanwhile, brought a large array of food; Roberta brings Twyla some graham crackers after... (full context)
Friendship vs. Family Theme Icon
Outsiders, Outcasts, and the Unwanted Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
...meant “Jimi Hendrix, asshole.” She goes to leave without saying goodbye, and Twyla asks after Roberta’s mother . Roberta says she is “fine” and Twyla says that Mary is “pretty as 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
...about each other’s mothers. Twyla says Mary never stopped dancing, and Roberta sadly admits that Roberta’s mother never got well. After Roberta goes, Twyla wonders if it’s possible Roberta is right about... (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
...crazy because she couldn’t talk, and that Maggie was brought up in an institution like Roberta’s mother was (and where Roberta assumed she also would be). (full context)