Recitatif

The Gar Girls (The Older Girls) Character Analysis

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 orchard. Roberta and Twyla are afraid of them and see them as “tough” and “mean,” but Twyla observes retrospectively that they were in fact “put-out girls, scared runaways most of them. Poor little girls who fought their uncles off.” The gar girls are thus a paradox of toughness and vulnerability, and illustrate how children who have suffered neglect and abuse can be misperceived as threatening. At the same time, the gar girls are a genuine threat, kicking Maggie to the ground and tearing her clothes. The gar girls therefore represent a cycle of abuse that Roberta and Twyla are desperate to escape.

The Gar Girls (The Older Girls) Quotes in Recitatif

The Recitatif quotes below are all either spoken by The Gar Girls (The Older Girls) or refer to The Gar Girls (The Older Girls). 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

I used to dream a lot and almost always the orchard was there. Two acres, four maybe, of these little apple trees. Hundreds of them. Empty and crooked like beggar women when I first came to St. Bonny's but fat with flowers when I left. I don't know why I dreamt about that orchard so much. Nothing really happened there. Nothing all that important, I mean. Just the big girls dancing and playing the radio. Roberta and me watching. Maggie fell down there once.

Related Characters: Twyla (speaker), Roberta, Maggie, The Gar Girls (The Older Girls)
Related Symbols: Dance, The Orchard
Page Number: 205
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Recitatif quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

I didn't kick her; I didn't join in with the gar girls and kick that lady, but I sure did want to. We watched and never tried to help her and never called for help. Maggie was my dancing mother. Deaf, I thought, and dumb. Nobody inside. Nobody who would hear you if you cried in the night. Nobody who could tell you anything important that you could use. Rocking, dancing, swaying as she walked. And when the gar girls pushed her down and started rough-

housing, I knew she wouldn't scream, couldn't—just like me—and I was glad about that.

Related Characters: Twyla (speaker), Maggie, The Gar Girls (The Older Girls)
Related Symbols: Dance, The Orchard
Page Number: 225
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

And you were right. We didn’t kick her. It was the gar girls. Only them. But, well, I wanted to. I really wanted them to hurt her. I said we did it too. You and me, but that's not true. And I don't want you to carry that around. It was just that I wanted to do it so bad that day––wanting to is doing it.

Related Characters: Roberta (speaker), Twyla, The Gar Girls (The Older Girls)
Related Symbols: The Orchard
Page Number: 226-227
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Get the entire Recitatif LitChart as a printable PDF.
Recitatif.pdf.medium

The Gar Girls (The Older Girls) Character Timeline in Recitatif

The timeline below shows where the character The Gar Girls (The Older Girls) 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
...a can of Yoo-Hoo.” She explains that sometimes she and Roberta were tormented by the older teenage girls at the shelter, who wore makeup and seemed intimidating but were actually (in retrospect) “scared... (full context)
Outsiders, Outcasts, and the Unwanted Theme Icon
Sickness and Disability Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
...orchard, although she’s not sure why. She claims “nothing really happened there,” aside from the older girls dancing. She adds that “Maggie fell down there once,” and explains that Maggie was a... (full context)
Friendship vs. Family Theme Icon
Outsiders, Outcasts, and the Unwanted Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
...and on her last day she and Twyla sit in the orchard and watch the older girls dance and smoke. Roberta seems “sort of glad and sort of not” to be going... (full context)
Friendship vs. Family Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
...men with excessive facial hair. Roberta is wearing an outfit and makeup that “made the big girls look like nuns.” At the end of her shift, Twyla approaches her, wondering if Roberta... (full context)
Friendship vs. Family Theme Icon
Outsiders, Outcasts, and the Unwanted Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
Race and Prejudice Theme Icon
...are children again. She recalls the teenage girls at St. Bonny’s, who they called the gar girls (based on a misunderstanding of the word gargoyles). Going into the coffee shop, she and... (full context)
Friendship vs. Family Theme Icon
Outsiders, Outcasts, and the Unwanted Theme Icon
Sickness and Disability Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
...servants. Twyla asks Roberta if she remembers the time when Maggie fell down and the gar girls laughed at her. Roberta gravely responds that Maggie didn’t fall—the gar girls pushed her in... (full context)
Friendship vs. Family Theme Icon
Outsiders, Outcasts, and the Unwanted Theme Icon
Sickness and Disability Theme Icon
Childhood vs. Adulthood Theme Icon
Roberta confesses that Twyla was right, that it was only the gar girls who kicked Maggie. However, Roberta adds that she wanted to kick her, and “wanting to... (full context)