Create a thesis and outline with three warrants for the story “Recitatif.”

Consider creating a thesis for “Recitatif” that argues that Twyla is Black and Roberta is white. For evidence that could be used to form three warrants for this thesis, think about Roberta’s support of segregation, her admiration for Twyla’s hair, and her affiliation with affluent people.

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One thesis for Toni Morrison’s short story “Recitatif” could revolve around race. Although Morrison never clearly assigns either main character a specific race, one might argue that Twyla is Black and Roberta is white. One reason for this statement could relate to Roberta’s presence at the segregation protests. Roberta wants segregation to stay, and Twyla does not. From this evidence, a warrant that links their race to their positions on segregation can be made.

Another warrant for the thesis might center on Twyla’s hair. In the story, it’s noted that Roberta liked to play with Twyla’s hair. This reflects the way in which white people tend to fetishize Black people’s hair. From this evidence, it’s possible to create a warrant that ties Roberta’s previous interest in Twyla’s hair to racial identity.

For a third piece of evidence, consider what happens to Roberta after she leaves school. She becomes involved with the “rich IBM crowd.” A warrant would bridge Roberta’s socioeconomic position, and her ability to significantly improve her class status, to her racial identity.

If a thesis about race isn’t compelling, perhaps create a thesis about memory or truth. In Morrison’s short story, both memory and truth come across as fragile and subjective. Twyla and Roberta have different memories of St. Bonny’s and what happened to Maggie. They have their own version of events. It shouldn’t be too difficult to create warrants linking their divergent accounts to the claim that memory and truth often depend on the person providing that memory or truth.

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