Today’s class discussion centered around Toni Morrison’s short story “Recitatif.” While reading the story initially, I did not think much of it besides that it told about the various interactions between two girls who had grown up together and met again a few times later in life. Clues on the first page made it seem to me as if Twyla was the white girl and Roberta was the black girl, so I established images in my mind to depict each of the girls as their respective races. I took no notice of the ambiguity factor of the characterizations, and didn’t even realize that it was supposed to be uncertain until my friend Amanda in my class texted me last night because she had had trouble discerning and wanted to hear my opinion.
Our class today was split up, each team assigned the task of arguing the opposite interpretations of which girl was which race. Hearing the proofs and explanations that each group argued made me realize how lax I had been in my initial reading of the story. Morrison presented plenty of details that could have easily strengthened either argument, which made me feel a little ignorant that I had failed to pick up on both of the sides of the story.
Reading “Recitatif” taught me a lesson that extends beyond just the scope of the short story. Many decisions that we have to make can be confusing and uncertain, especially when details are skewed and biases are established in people’s minds. Like how I made up my mind after the first page of reading and failed to see the other side because of initial descriptions of Twyla and Roberta, often times people form opinions based off of just one fact or piece of evidence, which then sets in stone how they view an entire situation. It is important for any person to try to see both sides of the argument like I did in class today, and eventually make their own educated decision based upon the facts presented to them.
Ultimately, there was no one definitive answer about the races of Twyla and Roberta. But, the members of our class did each make an informed judgement after reading, analyzing, and especially hearing what the other side has to say. This important exercise showed me the power of open-mindedness, and why it is such a crucial trait for anyone who wants to learn responsibly, rather than jumping to conclusions.