Toni Morrison

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Recitatif can help.


The first sentence of the story introduces the symbol of dance, when Twyla states: “My mother danced all night and Roberta’s was sick.” In this sentence, Roberta’s mother’s illness is paralleled with Mary’s…

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The Orchard

“Recitatif” is filled with symbolic settings, including Twyla and Roberta’s bedroom, the chapel, Howard Johnson’s, the gourmet market, and the Newburgh diner. However, none is as important or meaningful as the orchard at St. Bonny’s…

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The Klondike Bars

Though only mentioned a handful of times, the Klondike bars Twyla buys at the gourmet market are an important signifier of her circumstances and character as an adult woman, and of the differences between her…

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Protest Signs

When the schools in Newburgh are forced to integrate through the policy of busing, Roberta and other local mothers form a protest. Here Roberta holds a sign “bigger than her mother’s cross” that reads: “MOTHERS…

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