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The Role of An Individual As It Comes From Toni Morrison Essay

“If there’s a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. ” (Morrison). In reading Toni Morrison’s short story “Recitatif,” there are several things that Morrison does for her readers that allow us to relate and make the story our own. Morrison is a prime example of how language and translation play a role in the reader’s experience and what the reader takes away from the story. In “Recitatif” Morrison also helps the reader understand how much the past affects one’s future. “The past is never dead, it’s not even past. ” (William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun).

The way in which Toni Morrison begins “Recitatif” is crucial to understand the entire story. It is just as Faulkner has said in the aforementioned quote; the past is never dead. Twyla and Roberta have both been dramatically affected by their past and the stereotypes others have planted. Before Twyla and Roberta even got to talk more than a few words, Twyla had assumptions about Roberta, ideas constructed by her past. This is ever true for each of us.

Based on the experiences and circumstances we previously endured, we mold our future. Our individuality is mainly based on others in that because of what others inflict on us or walk with us through, we build our future. We are but the summation of our past. Thurmond 2 Both girls may have had already formed ideas about each other.

However the reader cannot do the same. Morrison does not allow the reader to know which character is white and which is black. She does this to portray the difference between necessary characteristics and accidental characteristics. By not know which girl is which race, we cannot make automatic assumptions, this is known as accidental characteristics. Accidental characteristics are not provided in a story but assumed, and dramatically affect perception.

A necessary characteristic is purposely revealed in hopes that we as readers would mold our ideas of the story more closely with what the author intended. Virginia Woolf believed that the problem with 1920s authors was that they focused on the physical, not the mental, but Toni Morrison removes the physical so readers can more accurately assess the story. Morrison is very straight to the point. She says what she needs to say and does not say what she does not need to say. She is honest and blunt, and this helps readers to dig deeper than the text.

Her language is very easy to understand, she eliminates any questions of confusion readers may have regarding the story. Also, by her putting the story into easy-to-understand language, it allows the reader to relate to her on a new level. Simple language and easy translation helps the audience take the story and make it their own, thus giving them a connection to the work. When a reader says a story “speaks” to them, perhaps this is what they mean. If a reader can easily understand the story, they can easily dig deeper and re-tell the story in a way that only they can.

My version of “Recitatif” would be considerably different that someone else’s because it means something different to me than to them. There are many things to be said about Toni Morrison and her story “Recitatif”. As it relates to language and translation, I do not think anyone would complain about her style. She has a way with words that allows the reader to, instead of evaluating the story, evaluate Thurmond 3 themselves through her story. Is this not what it is all about? As individuals, Morrison encourages us to be ourselves, because that is all we can be. We can shape our lives and tell our story in a way that no one else could; so be you, no one else can do that.


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