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The treatment of race in Toni Morrison's "Recitatif"

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  • Essay length: 2535 words
  • Submitted: 30/01/2008
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The treatment of race in Toni Morrison's "Recitatif"

Nowadays, race is considered more as an ideological or social construct rather than just a biological fact. This phenomenon is visible in many literary works. Toni Morrison, who is against all literary racism, presents in her works a new way to read American literature and enables the reader to see the hard racial truths that it contains. In her experimental short story "Recitatif" she purposely deprives her characters of their racial identity and creates ambiguity by constantly oscillating between racial codes that might apply both to black and white people. Morrison challenges the reader's expectations and any solution that is based on stereotypes by first creating and then re-creating the characters' racial identity. Her aim, by doing so, is to make the reader aware of the racial stereotypes, which are often contradictory.

Toni Morrison's "Recitatif" has lyrical and ironical undertones, achieved by such narrative strategies as allusions to race stereotypes, racism, perception of racial "otherness", reversal and indirection. She plays with the reader's expectations by many plot enigmas, language tricks and storyline gaps. She also encourages the reader to deeper engagement with the text and much closer

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