beginning to end, Maggie remains a figure of ambiguity. As the final line of the story suggests, Morrison has no intention of resolving the questions Maggie raises; instead she leaves her readers with this challenge. But she does so only after supplying a wealth of clues that help us understand why Twyla and Roberta return again and again to the subject of what happened to Maggie. In this essay I will explore Maggie as a metaphor—a figure that represents not only the conflicts within and between the two main characters, but the broader social dynamics that these conflicts reflect.
Write an essay comparing how the adult lives and personalities of the two central characters in RECITATIF are shaped by their experience in the orphanage. Why and how is this experience so traumatic? In these terms, how are Twyla and Roberta both similar and different, and what role does Maggie play in their efforts to come to terms with their past?