Early in the novel, after we have seemingly received the unvarnished “truth” of her illness, Claudia, in “full adult dress” asks “[b]ut was it really like that? As painful as I remember…”(Morrison 12). This unexpected interjection ( which forces the reader to recall the temporal distance between the narrator and the protagonist) positions Adult Claudia in relationship to her own past similarly to the way that Nikki Giovanni positions her potential biographer in Nikki-Rosa.
This might suggest that the same operation that makes Giovanni’s happy childhood illegible as such is operative here but internalized into the one who experienced it ( Claudia is here her own white biographer). Considering this alongside later moments in the text where the narrative registers this shift in perspective at key moments of resistance and often violence (for example, the progression to love with Dolls and Shirley Temple, Maureen Peal),how might this help us to interpret adult Claudia as a character? How might this undercut some assumptions that readers hold regarding the the progress of maturity in the binary opposition of adult/child?