Date of Award

Spring 5-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Joanna Levin

Second Advisor

Justine Van Meter

Third Advisor

Rei Magosaki


This project examines Toni Morrison’s short story “Recitatif.” The aim of this thesis is to analyze the ways in which the characters of Twyla and Roberta remain fixated on the question of Maggie, a disabled character, and their mothers. Drawing on the work of disability studies specialist Lennard J. Davis, this thesis explores how the binary “normal/abnormal” functions in the story and shapes Twyla’s and Roberta’s understandings of their pasts and identities. The White/Black binary also shapes Twyla’s and Roberta’s experiences—and understanding of Maggie. At a time when the category of “White” stood as a default universal or norm, Maggie’s possible Blackness increases her perceived vulnerability and raises the stakes of the question posed in the narrative, “What the hell happened to Maggie”?

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Available for download on Friday, May 01, 2026